Clashing Signals: Licensing in overlapping 5G🗼and Wi-Fi 6📶Technologies

#️⃣ As the worlds of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G continue to converge, we’re witnessing a fascinating intersection of technologies that’s not only driving innovation but may also lead to potential rise in litigations by SEP holders.
#️⃣ Let’s look into some of the overlapping technologies between 5G and Wi-Fi 6:
1️⃣ Carrier Aggregation: Combining multiple radio frequency bands or carriers into a single data channel to increase data speeds and network capacity
2️⃣ OFDMA: Dividing the available frequency spectrum into multiple orthogonal subcarriers, each carrying data independently. This allows multiple users to access the same frequency band simultaneously.
3️⃣ MU-MIMO: Access points using multiple antennas to send and receive data streams to and from multiple devices simultaneously.
4️⃣ Beamforming: Focusing radio signals in specific directions, rather than broadcasting them in all directions equally.

#️⃣ As per the patent filing trends some of the notable SEP owners in these technologies are: Qualcomm, Huawei, Intel, LG Electronics and Interdigital.
#️⃣ Obviously most of these players are already major SEP owners in 5G space. Therefore, these SEP owners would be keen on leveraging the applicability of their SEPs in Wifi6 ecosystem.
#️⃣ As a result the patent licensing/litigation in WI-FI 6 domain is likely to pick up. For instance, Huawei has sued multiple players like Amazon (now settled), Netgear, and German WIFI router maker AVM. Nokia won against OPPO over Wi-Fi connections scanning technology patent. TP link is sued by Atlas Global Technologies. Atlas Global also sued DELL and HP for Wi-Fi 6 technologies.
#️⃣ The cost of a Wi-Fi modem is one tenth of the cellular modem, but royalty numbers may change dramatically owing to use in higher number of devices. Considering the adoption trends, sooner Wi-Fi 6 modem would be implemented in more cell phones. Therefore, in future may be the number of Wi-Fi 6 compliant devices would be more than 5G devices? Because all 5G phones will also use the Wi-Fi 6 modem.
#️⃣ An interesting space to watch out for and to see how the overlapping nature of technologies impact the royalty rate negotiations. For instance, if royalty has been paid for MU-MIMO while paying royalty for cell phone modem, so why to take license for overlapping patents for Wi-Fi connectivity. Will SEP holders not ask for royalty for same set of patents for multiple chipsets in a single device?
#️⃣ Beyond these questions, the age old debate on apportionment (appropriate contribution SEPs to the end device), component level/smallest saleable patent practicing unit (SSPPU) level or end device licensing model is still on. The SEP holders do not like (SSPPU) level licensing model for the reasons known.
The SEP licensing world is likely to evolve like the technologies to resolve many of these conflicts.

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