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To combat the explosion of data traffic hitting their mobile networks, operators around the world (in both developed and developing economies) have been looking to migrate to 4G or, as it's also known, 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE),  Some LTE enthusiasts think that Wi-Fi is simply a short-term bandaid for today’s overtaxed 3G networks, and that it will fade from relevance to the mobile operator scene once LTE is widely deployed. A closer look at the facts reveals that Wi-Fi is destined to play a longer-term and complementary role right alongside LTE. Wi-Fi remains one of most attractive cost structures for high capacity urban and suburban areas of any wireless technology on the planet. Installation of additional macro/femto equipment or licensed spectrum is costly. In contrast, Wi-Fi is a cost-efficient alternative for traffic with low QoS demand, with 550MHz of unlicensed spectrum and a large (often underappreciated) installed base.

Think of it this way: LTE will be used primarily for the macrocell environment and high mobility where licensed-band performance characteristics are essential while Wi-Fi will be used for an underlay of smaller cells where high capacity density with minimal visual footprint and infrastructure cost will be key.  That said, with hundreds of millions of powerful new Wi-Fi enabled devices now in the hands of our children, you can bet that in both the immedate and long term, operators will use better Wi-Fi everywhere to address this Mobile Internet craze and the resulting broadband landgrab currently underway.

Read more about this article at Ruckus Wireless "With LTE, Who Needs Wi-Fi?" .

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