Let’s talk about side effects. Specifically, a business side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the virus is still with us, daily work routines have shifted back to a semblance of pre-pandemic normal in many countries. Offices have reopened and employers are moving back to in-person work routines or new hybrid operating models. Amid the adjustments, businesses are finding that they must address an interesting side effect of the pandemic: increasing employee expectations about their office work environment.
The uncertainty and restrictions during the pandemic that shifted employees to working from home taught them how well wireless technology can enable work, life, and leisure. The pandemic showed everyone that, with the right wireless technology, they can do almost everything from home — shop, eat, access healthcare and entertainment, and work when and how they want. Supported by cloud-based applications delivered to any device, employees got used to the experience of being able to fire up a laptop anywhere in the house, do business on multiple devices at once, and leverage all the benefits of the technology at their fingertips.
At the same time, employers realized that with the right technologies, an infinite enterprise that is infinitely distributed to meet users wherever they are and that can deliver a consumer-centric experience at scale can be a reality. But they also realized that to encourage a return to in-person or hybrid work models, they must revamp their wireless network to create quality application and user experiences that address the new expectations employees have of a work environment.
Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E enable businesses to meet and even exceed expectations when employees leave home for an office setting. What exactly are those expectations? In a nutshell, comfort, convenience, and efficiency.
Employees expect that if they are going to leave their home office environment they will have always on, easily accessible, powerful, and fast wireless access — everywhere. They expect that wireless access to enable the use of any application at any time, without a network hiccup. And they expect the network to provide the security needed to allow them to exchange business-critical information with colleagues, partners, and suppliers wherever they are.
As noted in a recent survey of employees in the U.S. and Europe by CCS Insight, 37% of respondents point to slow fixed networks in corporate offices as the biggest connectivity issue, and 29% cite unreliable corporate office Wi-Fi as a main source of frustration. The same survey noted that this will be a significant concern for enterprises as employees return to the office expecting to continue to use many of the same online meeting apps they have been using at home over the past two years. According to the survey, those apps are currently used to enable 46% of all work calls, 28% of which are video calls. Employees will continue to rely on these apps, and the use of video calls in particular is expected to continue to rise. The survey report notes that “this will put even more pressure on the corporate network and will also undoubtedly drive demand for more-reliable office Wi-Fi.”
But current wireless networks were never engineered to support the number of users, volume of traffic, application requirements, and always-on connectivity needed to deliver the quality of experience employees demand. With Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, enterprise IT teams can ensure their wireless networks are ready for any requirement.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E make it easier to rise above the limitations of current Wi-Fi networks. They support the most demanding application requirements enhanced efficiency, reliability, and speed. To enable enterprises to create quality experiences that go beyond user expectations, Wi-Fi 6E operates in the 6 GHz band, and it can take full advantage of the 1,200 MHz of bandwidth the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States released in that band for unlicensed use. Worldwide, more than 60 countries have or are considering making the 6 GHz band available for Wi-Fi.
Security for all applications is assured with Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3)-personal and WPA3-enterprise security standards. As more advanced applications and devices are added to the network, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are ready to deliver faster and more advanced encryption to protect increasing volumes of business-critical data.
And to ensure an enterprise wireless network is always available and operating at peak efficiency, a Wi-Fi-6/6E environment can be matched with a cloud-managed networking platform that simplifies network management for already overburdened IT teams. With the right platform, IT teams can extract the data they need from the network to manage all access points, switches, and routers from a single unified view.
Harnessing the power of Wi-Fi 6/6E requires the right tools. Extreme Networks provides everything enterprises need to create the quality application and user experiences that employees will expect in an in-person or hybrid work environment.
The Extreme Networks AP4000 is the industry’s first Wi-Fi 6E tri-radio access point capable of multiple operating modes. It’s optimized to deliver maximum performance and security in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands. This makes it easier for IT teams to rise above the challenges tomorrow’s in-person work environments will face by supporting the needs of more users, more user devices, and applications. The AP5010is a 4×4:4 Wi-Fi 6E tri-radio access point with cloud and on-premises management, and full Wi-Fi functionality over 802.3at.
Our Extreme Cloud IQ Cloud Services Platform provides that single, unified view of wired and wireless networks that IT teams will need to manage and analyze the network edge, campus, and data center to ensure all Wi-Fi 6/6E network elements are always providing the most efficient network experience.
And our Extreme Cloud IQ CoPilot simplifies Wi-Fi 6/6E wireless network management for always-on networks using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and real-time data analytics to detect network issues, identify causes, determine their potential impact on users, and recommend solutions.