Blog Mobility

How Wi-Fi 6E will Advance Connected Healthcare Environments

Matt McNeel Senior Director, U.S. Healthcare Published 1 Dec 2021

Introduced by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the latest standard of Wi-Fi – called Wi-Fi 6E – presents an enormous opportunity for enterprise organizations and their connected environments, including the healthcare industry.  Learn what Wi-Fi 6E is all about, and how it could address some of the critical pain points for IT healthcare professionals in the blog post below!

What’s Wi-Fi 6E All About?

Wi-Fi 6E, where ‘E’ means “extended,” operates in the 6 GHz band of the Wi-Fi frequency spectrum; not to be confused with ‘Wi-Fi 6,’ which relies exclusively on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, Wi-Fi 6E and the 6 GHz band represents the largest opening of capacity in the history of Wi-Fi.

For connected enterprise environments, Wi-Fi 6E will provide the next generation of devices connectivity through less congested airwaves, broader channels, and faster connections to enable a range of innovations in the market.

Did You Know: according to 650 Group, Wi-Fi 6E will see rapid adoption in the next couple years; more than 350M devices planned to enter the market in ’22 that supports 6 GHz, and more than 200% expected unit growth of Wi-Fi 6E enterprise wireless APs in 2022. 

Inherent IT Challenges for Healthcare Environments

For healthcare technology leaders, Wi-Fi 6E could help solve several pain points inherent in large healthcare environments.  For one, a big benefit of Wi-Fi 6E is how it addresses high-density RF environments with a significant number of devices/users in one area. Acute care hospitals and healthcare campuses in particular are perfect examples of congested, high traffic, constantly changing environments.

Hospital campuses are complex and dynamic settings, with multiple devices per person, mobile staff/guests and devices, and noise from other technologies.  Between mission critical devices, IoT, and BYOB devices, the number of devices and the amount of data these devices consume continues to grow – creating a fight for resources and throttling application performance. The potential result? Critical healthcare devices/applications not fully functioning, healthcare brands are delivering subpar user experiences, and IT staff are unable to focus on innovation – all of which lead to overall poor healthcare outcomes.

The Potential of Wi-Fi 6E for Healthcare

Improved Performance & Advancing Voice over Wi-FiWi-Fi 6E takes advantage of the new 6 GHz band that will initially only serve the highest-performance, next-generation client device to create a cleaner RF environment.  By offloading congestion in 2.4 GHz/5 GHz bands with 6E-capable hardware being created, it helps to eliminates RF contention for a more efficient wireless experience for all devices and users.  This means easier transfer of video, medical imaging, analytics, and documents with better support of videoconferencing and voice calls; it also means hospital administrators and physicians won’t have to contend with slow download times or inhibited communications.

Improved Care through Better Efficiency: connected devices often ‘wake up’ to share data and keep connection with the network; this can cause battery life and energy to die prematurely – certainly not ideal in mission critical (if not life critical) settings.  Wi-Fi 6E employs Target Wake Time (TWT) to boost device life; as clinicians increasingly rely on devices, every bit of battery life counts and unexpected shutdowns only interrupt patient care and/or operational efficiency

Superior Performance and Security = MORE Innovation! Wi-Fi 6E wireless access points could prove to deliver 2.5x faster throughput compared to equivalent Wi-Fi 6 APs. With greater throughput equals faster transmission speeds for large data files such as MRI, radiography, and ultrasounds – not to mention better quality telemedicine sessions.  Wi-Fi 6E also supports new WPA3 encryption and authentication protocol, providing stronger security to any client or device. With more capacity, improved efficiency, and fortified security, Wi-Fi 6E will empower healthcare IT leaders to accelerate digital transformation, and better accommodate the influx of IoT and other client devices coming onto the network

Wi-Fi 6E and Extreme Networks

As a leader in wired and wireless networking, Extreme Networks understands the enormous opportunity Wi-Fi 6E presents for technology leaders and the enterprise environments they’re tasked with supporting.  As such, Extreme was the first Wi-Fi manufacturer in the industry to ship enterprise grade Wi-Fi 6E solution.  Extreme’s AP4000 is the most advanced Wi-Fi 6E solution in the market, with industry-leading cloud management and ability to operate on 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and the new 6 GHz band.

Designed for high-density environments such as healthcare facilities and large campus hospitals, Extreme’s lead customers, including large healthcare providers, are rolling out Wi-Fi 6E technology.  Take Novant Health, which has partnered with Extreme to roll out Wi-Fi 6E for expanded network capacity and improved performance for mission critical healthcare applications and medical devices.

More information on Wi-Fi 6E and Healthcare:

Get the latest stories sent straight to your inbox!

Related Healthcare Stories