On the New Normal Breakout Channel of Extreme Connect 2020, Perry Correll, Director of Wireless Solutions at Extreme, and Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst at ZK Research, spoke about The Future of Wi-Fi and Why Your Next Upgrade is So Important. If you didn’t catch the session, we highly encourage you to check out the on-demand link where you can hear the details of what’s happening in Wi-Fi today and key considerations when deploying wireless technologies.
As Perry and Zeus pointed out, digital transformation has been accelerated by the global pandemic – the workforce had to become more agile, healthcare has been administered in pop-up, mobile facilities, and faculty and students across the globe have had to adapt to learning at a “distance” – and Wi-Fi has been the key enabler in making all these occurrences (and more) possible. When you think of digital transformation you think of cloud, mobility, IoT – the one commonality between them all is that they’re all network-centric in nature, and ALL driven by Wi-Fi.
As Zeus states, “Wi-fi is no longer just a network convenience – it’s the network convenience AND the mission-critical network…Wi-Fi is now the primary network connect.”
Wi-Fi is 21 years old now and over the decades there have been continuous improvements in reliability, security, and performance. You could expect that every 2-3 years, a new Wi-Fi ‘upgrade’ would be announced. One of the key questions Perry and Zeus address is what makes Wi-Fi 6 so different than its predecessors? The answer – its all in the technology. Wi-Fi 6 is the first wireless technology designed for the all wireless workplace. 802.1111ax/Wi-Fi 6 has the ability to support multi-user communication, enabling more than one client to talk at a time. It’s no longer a matter of it just being faster – Wi-Fi 6 advances and improves the Wi-Fi service.
But it’s not just stopping at Wi-Fi 6. Perry and Zeus detail the current landscape around Wi-Fi 6E and its ability to double the available bandwidth in some areas. They discuss how it’s not just a second wave of Wi-Fi 6 – it gives fresh spectrum to use to empower and enable an entire class of users, including higher levels of security, more channels, etc. Perry says, “Wi-Fi 6E is not a revolution; it’s just another step in the continuing evolution of Wi-Fi” as we’re now looking at Wi-Fi 6 R2, and even Wi-Fi 7 on the horizon.
As in any discussion about Wi-Fi, they also touched on 5G Goals and Capabilities. And while 5G is game-changing in its very nature (massive IoT, enhanced mobile broadband, mission-critical control), Perry and Zeus squash the rumors that it will replace Wi-Fi, saying instead, that 5G is a fantastic complement to Wi-Fi.
Lastly, as Wi-Fi becomes an increasingly critical component to our daily lives, the way in which Wi-Fi is managed becomes equally important. Whether troubleshooting a network, or learning from the data provided, or being proactive vs reactive, technologies like AI, machine learning and deep learning will be key considerations when looking at management solutions.
The Wi-Fi network is a foundational component of digital transformation. The next Wi-Fi upgrade is what’s going to power your digital company for years to come.