Organizations should start preparing now if they want to take full advantage of the next generation of Wi-Fi, say wireless experts.
“To deliver the workplace of the future, you need to do something differently. Wi-Fi 6 is a meaningful opportunity to deliver on a vision of the wireless office,” said Oleg Tolchinsky, Cisco Canada’s General Manager of Enterprise Networking at a recent ITWC webinar.
The sixth generation of Wi-Fi is more than an upgrade to the previous standard for wireless transmission. “Wi-Fi 6 is a rethink of the way Wi-Fi works from the ground up,” said Tolchinsky. “It was developed to make the network more efficient. It solves the problem of how to put more traffic on the same highway even though you can’t make the highway any bigger.”
The result is that Wi-Fi 6 offers dramatically improved performance in device-heavy environments.
What you need to know about Wi-Fi 6
- One of the biggest differentiators of Wi-Fi 6 is that it intelligently sorts data from multiple client devices into one transmission. “The access point acts as a coordinator,” said Tolchinsky. “It will make a huge difference in performance in today’s busy networks.” Wi-Fi 6 will be instrumental in unlocking the potential of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT).
- With up to four times improved performance in busy environments than current networks, Wi-Fi 6 will be a far better experience for users, said Tolchinsky. They will see better performance of sensitive apps like voice, video and collaboration. “People worry about the end user experience with the current wireless infrastructure,” noted John Dathan, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Insight Canada. Wi-Fi 6 also enhances battery life for devices. “This is important if you want to unchain users from their desks and avoid operational burden in managing IoT devices,” said Tolchinsky.
- Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, the latest generation in cellular technology, are complementary. “Our saying is to use Wi-Fi where you can and 5G where you must,” said Tolchinsky. The benefit of 5G is its incredible reach and speed over a large area. Typically, 5G will be the network of choice for outdoors, while Wi-Fi 6 is ideal for indoor enterprise networks.
- The entire network must be ready for Wi-Fi 6, said Tolchinsky. “If you’re putting more devices on the network and allowing them to go faster, the experience is only as good as the weakest link in the network.” As well, security policies will need to be maintained from the end device across the network.
- It may be necessary to rethink your management strategy to ensure the network performs as intended, Tolchinsky said. A controller-based approach to network management is essential. Given the proliferation of devices, this should include automated and continuous verification on all aspects of the network from configuration to compliance. As well, the management system should provide proactive insights on improvements and corrective actions. “The right technology and a good partner can guide you through this,” said Tolchinsky.
When will Wi-Fi 6 go mainstream?
Wi-Fi 6 is on a faster rollout as compared to 5G, said Tolchinsky. Equipment is available on the market today, and users will start making the transition by the end of the year and into 2020.
“Wi-Fi 6 goes beyond speed,” said Tolchinsky. “It addresses poor performance situations, and those are the real dollars in business.”