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Cisco: 5G must be wed to WiFi 6 to ensure success

Marrying 5G to the deployment of sixth-generation WiFi will be crucial to the success of the global deployment of the technology, according to Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Robbins said that growth in connectivity will unleash “incredible applications” across industry and commerce, with 5G also opening up “a world of opportunity” for applications that currently rely on fast terrestrial connections.

The shift to mobile connectivity enabled by 5G will enable advanced applications to be delivered “everywhere”, according to Robbins. To enable this, technology companies have to be able to provide “highly secure” next-generation networks to “support billions of 5G connections at the edge of the network”.

WiFi version 6 will be crucial to enabling connectivity at the edge, said Robbins. “We see customers rolling out WiFi 6 while 5G is still at a pilot stage, but WiFi 6 and 5G are meant to work together,” he said.

Robbins said that technology companies such as his are tasked with bringing 5G and WiFi 6 together with common security.

Robbins said that most people believe the first 5G revenue streams will come from enterprise customers. This means not only creating networks but building the capability to deliver services across them, he said. Operators will have to be able to build services that enterprises can use in order to make a return on their network investment, he said.

Robbins cited Cisco’s deal with Verizon this week to enable the latter to use its 5G network to delvier services to enterprise customers as an example of what could be done.

“Partnerships will be incredibly important,” said Robbins. “We will all have to bet on partners to help us achieve what we are trying to achieve”.