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Wi-Fi 6 Technology for Business

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Wi-Fi technology is among the greatest success stories of this new technology era, and its societal benefits are known to most of the world’s population. Wi-Fi has connected and entertained people, and has assisted in the creation of new technologies, industries, and careers around the globe. According to a recent report from the Wi-Fi Alliance (Telecom Advisory Services, LLC 2018), more than 9 billion Wi-Fi devices are currently in use worldwide, where individuals, families, governments, and global organizations depend on Wi-Fi every day. According to the same report, the economic value provided by Wi-Fi reached the astounding amount of nearly $2 trillion by 2018, and is forecast to grow to almost $3.5 trillion by 2023. Since Wi-Fi has become an essential part of the home, and a key complementary technology for both enterprise and carrier networks, this economic value is only expected to increase beyond 2023, as the newly defined generation of more capable Wi-Fi products becomes widely available.

Concurrently, the requirements of wireless data services continue to increase in many scenarios such as homes, enterprises, and hotspots, beyond the capabilities of Wi-Fi 6. Video traffic will be the dominant traffic type in the years to come, and its throughput demand will keep growing to tens of gigabits per second with the emergence of more sophisticated technologies (e.g., 4k and 8k video). Simultaneously, new applications demanding both high throughput and low latency are also proliferating. Among these, augmented and virtual reality, gaming, remote office, and cloud computing pose the most stringent requirements, including sub-5 ms latency needs. Reliability is also a major concern in the emerging digital industry, where guaranteeing that 99.99% of the data packets are correctly delivered within their given deadline may be the bare minimum to replace wired with wireless communications. With these high-throughput, low-latency, and high-reliability requirements, 1 consumer will demand a further improved Wi-Fi.

How It Works

A wireless network uses radio waves, just like cell phones, televisions and radios do. In fact, communication across a wireless network is a lot like two-way radio communication. Here’s what happens: 1) a computer’s wireless adapter translates data into a radio signal and transmits it using an antenna; 2) a wireless router receives the signal and decodes it. The router sends the information to the Internet using a physical, wired Ethernet connection. The process also works in reverse, with the router receiving information from the Internet, translating it into a radio signal and sending it to the computer’s wireless adapter.

The radios used for Wi-Fi communication are very similar to the radios used for walkie-talkies, cell phones and other devices. They can transmit and receive radio waves, and they can convert 1s and 0s into radio waves and convert the radio waves back into 1s and 0s (V. Gunasekaran, 2009). But Wi-Fi radios have a few notable differences from other radios: They transmit at frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz. This frequency is considerably higher than the frequencies used for cell phones, walkie-talkies and televisions. The higher frequency allows the signal to carry more data.

Known in the tech community as 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 is the latest wireless LAN architecture that allows more data to be transferred, more devices to be connected to one router and more efficient power use. It still works on the same frequency channels as Wi-Fi 5 (2.4 GHz and 5GHz), but it floods the channels with more data to make better use of them.

Thanks to its bigger data transfers, it offers speeds up to 11Gbps as compared to Wi-Fi 5 which transfers a maximum of 1Gbps, according to Cisco 2019. If you’ve been in an airport, coffee shop, library or hotel recently, chances are you’ve been right in the middle of a wireless network. Many people also use wireless networking, to connect their computers at home, and some cities are trying to use the technology to provide free or low-cost Internet access to residents. In the near future, wireless networking may become so widespread that you can access the Internet just about anywhere at any time, without using wires.

Significance and Benefits of Wi-Fi 6 in Business

With larger data transfer rates and wider connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 can give businesses the same value they get from 5G – for a more affordable price.

The faster speed would make working on any SaaS (software as a service) much more of a breeze. Browsing, upload and download speeds would also increase dramatically and this would result in smoother con-calls and faster file transfers, especially large ones.

Wi-Fi 6 would help businesses drive more value from their present IT infrastructure. For instance, the huge transfer rate would allow businesses to attain 5G-level performance for a much affordable price by changing little hardware in their office, like the routers.

It would also make connectivity at crowded offices and cafe much easier thanks to its ability to connect more devices at one go. Being one of the biggest issues with the current Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6 can ensure that with its improved antenna technology (MIMO), no connections will be dropped and speeds will be constant between devices, leaving no room for lags.

What’s more, since the hardware doesn’t cost as much as 5G devices, it may find other uses too apart from just offices, homes and public spots. With more Wi-Fi-ready devices being available, experts predict that Wi-Fi 6 will see application in almost every industry, ranging from agriculture to zoology according to the info-graphic by World Broadband Alliance (Tech HQ 2019).

By improving the antenna’s Multiple-in, Multiple-out (MIMO) technology, it also allows more devices to be connected to it at one go, as opposed to Wi-Fi 5 and its predecessors where some devices fail to connect due to frequency overpopulation. That’s something SMEs would find this useful especially companies that practice agile working and café’s that provide Wi-Fi for patrons.

Since Wi-Fi 6 is designed to be part of a secure corporate LAN, staff would no longer need to tunnel their connection through a VPN to access applications, files and data that’s stored in their corporate intranet, as opposed to 5G users that would need VPN as it is a cellular network. This makes the biggest difference between these two techs, thus far.

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The greatest benefit of Wi-Fi 6 is that it handles more traffic more efficiently, meaning it can shoulder a heavier load than its widely deployed predecessors. Better still, the new Wi-Fi standard is backward compatible with earlier versions, letting users avoid stranded investments and flash cutovers (Bob Wallace, 2019).

Importance of Wi-Fi 6 in Business

The flow of information and the users of such become ever more mobile. The Internet has opened the possibilities of companies addressing their customers independently of time and location ‘anytime, anywhere, always’. One could say that the interaction between company and potential customer is always ‘one click away’. This ‘click’ is often farther away than one might think. It’s often difficult to justify spending on new IT infrastructure without a solid ROI. But that’s where consumer-first applications can continue to drive wireless technology implementations.

Enter the media, sports, and hospitality verticals. Wi-Fi 6 is already envisioned as delivering higher-speed streaming content services to consumers, at a price and likely with ads and sponsorships. That’s a clear ROI.

Many sports venues have been challenged to keep up with fan demand for more and faster wireless to access and share video clips and more on social media. But forward-thinking venue owners have used data analytics to learn more about and better engage with their customers. The new version’s efficiency and congestion-addressing features should help meet increasing demands for speed, data, and performance.

Wi-Fi in the hospitality industry has evolved from a nice-to-have perk to a must-have one, to one that must be challenge-free, or the customer experience goes from dependent to dissatisfy. It can be argued that providing a superior customer experience is one step removed from revenue generation. It can also be argued that an unsatisfied customer is a departing customer. Quality of experience is core to the hospitality industry (Bob Wallace, 2019).

Challenges of Deploying Wi-Fi 6

It’s recommended that in preparing for Wi-Fi 6, firms continue the practice of designing high-quality 20 MHz channels. Planners must also remember that the new standard specifies lower power consumption for the devices connecting to networks with improved efficiency, especially sleep wake time optimization. This benefits the mobile phones, laptops, or other IoT devices.

Also, remember to budget power as Wi-Fi 6 networks require even more power for the businesses and organizations deploying them. This makes power budgeting increasingly important as you add 802.11ax APs with more powerful processors and additional radio chains.

And when an upgrade plan progresses, don’t forget to save time for extensive field testing and validation as these functions are crucial to assembling high-quality and performance networks.

With efficiency-focused Wi-Fi 6, proper planning should lead to much more than just a smooth deployment.

For many WiFi-6 implementers, their efforts are driven more by traffic management and greater efficiency required by high-density networks, than by higher data rates and bigger channels. This is because prior versions of 802.11 created excessive overhead at the MAC sub-layer and medium contention overhead for each small frame.

Although the Wi-Fi 6 ecosystem is far from robust, the standard’s allure has more than captured the attention of enterprises across vertical industries. Facing growing user bases and soaring traffic, some large public venue owners have already begun to deploy the new technology.

The wireless industry association Wi-Fi Alliance has begun Wi-Fi certification testing, which covers such staple network infrastructure as access points (AP) and routers. Though it’s safe to expect current gear providers to provide any upgrades to meet certification requirements, those who sleep better with an official stamp might want to plan accordingly (Bob Wallace, 2019). Some other common challenges include:

  • Slow and unstable connection. Even when connected to the Internet, many users commonly experience unstable or slow connection speeds with their wireless connections. This is especially severe in areas where multiple access points are installed. Signal interference is one of the reasons for unstable connection. The interference is resulted from the various equipment of Wi-Fi environments coupled with different electromagnetic waves. Wi-Fi signals are the most easily affected, which poses another challenge for providing a high-quality wireless connection.
  • Efficient bandwidth usage. One of the greatest challenges in managing a wireless connection is ensuring that every user within the same environment is satisfied with their connection speed and usage stability. With the more usages on bandwidth-hungry applications, bandwidth optimization and efficiency have become key factors that determine the quality of the user’s experience. This is especially true in business environments.
  • Connection safety and cyber security. Apart from efficiency, connection safety and cyber security has also become one of the key concerns for many in the virtual world, especially regarding cyber security of personal privacy and rights. Related issues tend to make headline news due to their severity, which also makes it one of the frequent issues that keep CTOCEO’s awake at night. As a result, connection safety and cyber security is one of the key points of consideration when designing a wireless network.
  • IT investment assessment. Increasing management efficiency and seeking continued growth are primary targets for all profit-seeking enterprises. The underlying cost for Internet system renewal adds to the burden of operation costs, which has also become a key concern for managers. Not only do managers have to consider the cost to upgrade the system, they also have to think about how to prevent usage expenses from rising when increasing efficiency (ZyXEL Communications, 2016).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the importance and benefits of Wi-Fi 6 in business are great, but the deployment of Wi-Fi 6 in this area also has significant risks that must be taken into account in order to get the most out of this new technology.

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Wi-Fi 6 Technology for Business. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/wi-fi-6-technology-for-business/
“Wi-Fi 6 Technology for Business.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/wi-fi-6-technology-for-business/
Wi-Fi 6 Technology for Business. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/wi-fi-6-technology-for-business/> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
Wi-Fi 6 Technology for Business [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2023 Feb 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/wi-fi-6-technology-for-business/
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