Happy World Wi-Fi Day - Will Wi-Fi Still Exist in 2033?

Happy World Wi-Fi Day OCTO

For a quarter of a century now, Wi-Fi has been transforming our world offering real-time mobility and secure connections to every corner of the globe. It's safe to say, asyou'll often hear me declare, that Wi-Fi has seamlessly woven itself into the very fabric of our daily worldwide communication culture. Our reliance on Wi-Fi extends from our professional landscape to the tranquility of our homes. In the context of today's society, Wi-Fi has infiltrated almost all spaces we frequent - our local cafés, retail shops, sports stadiums and so much more. Chances are, as you read this, you're connected to the world through the magic of Wi-Fi.

And to honor this remarkable technology that has help shape our society, we commemorate World Wi-Fi Day every year on June 20th.But will we be celebrating this event in 10 years from now on June 20th, 2033?  Will some other technology replace Wi-Fi, or will Wi-Fi continue to rule the day as the primary wireless access technology?  I have a utopian view, but first let’s take a quick look back at past success.

As with many technologies there are often paradigm shifts or watershed moments. In my perspective, the last big paradigm shift was when the 4th generation of Wi-Fi (802.11n) was introduced in 2009.The first three generations of Wi-Fi all used single-input, single-output (SISO) radios which were susceptible to the negative impacts of an RF phenomena known as multipath. 802.11n brought multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) radios to Wi-Fi and now multipath was our friend.It was this turning point that led to the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi in the enterprise sector.

In my view, the next big watershed moment for Wi-Fi was realized in the early months of 2020 when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collectively resolved to allocate 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band for unregulated use within the United States. This ignited a wave of 6 GHz Wi-Fi adoption in various other countries around the globe.To comprehend the magnitude of this change, consider this: the new 6 GHz spectrum available for Wi-Fi is more than double the usable channels of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels combined. 

This decision marks a significant step forward in the ongoing evolution of Wi-Fi technology, with potential ramifications that are both exciting and profound moving forward. As we navigate through the current 6th iteration of Wi-Fi, the forthcoming generations of Wi-Fi will be constructed upon this 6 GHz spectrum superhighway - a foundation that promises to serve us for the next 10 years and potentially even more!

The unfolding narrative of Wi-Fi over the next decade until 2033 is set to feature two exciting chapters – Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 8. We can expect Wi-Fi 7 to introduce itself in 2024, harnessing the potential of the 6 GHz spectrum to offer a suite of new features, the highlight being multi-link operation (MLO). Picture a scenario where a Wi-Fi 7 client device interfaces simultaneously with a Wi-Fi 7 access point across two different channels on separate bands. On the horizon, Wi-Fi 8 is predicted to push these boundaries even further by introducing multi-AP operation, enabling a Wi-Fi 8 client device to synchronously communicatwith multiple Wi-Fi 8 APs within a dispersed network architecture.

While these future developments paint an encouraging picture, there's no shortage of doomsayers. If one were to put stock in some of the more exuberant marketing narratives spun by a few telecom providers, 5G cellular technology should have already replaced Wi-Fi by now. Don’t  get me wrong - I firmly acknowledge the value of public 5G in our society and recognize the emerging interest in private 5G technology within the enterprise sector. I foresee both 5G and Wi-Fi thriving in the years to come. However, can you imagine a world without Wi-Fi?  I asked Midjourney to envision such a world and this is what the world would look like in 2033 if Wi-Fi was to disappear. Clearly a dystopian world awaits us.

2033 – a dystopian world without Wi-Fi

2033 – a dystopian world without Wi-Fi

ChatGPT served as a significant milestone in the evolution of AI, much in the same way I anticipate the Apple VisionPro will reshape the landscape of AR/VR. In my mind, this innovative device is poised to instigate a renaissance in the realm of augmented and virtual reality, with Wi-Fi as its indispensable companion and primary access technology.

Such technological breakthroughs are underscored by the ongoing evolution of Wi-Fi, which has brought about substantial cultural shifts with each new generation. The proliferation of Wi-Fi has seen our world become increasingly interconnected, ushering in novel modes of communication, entertainment, and productivity. It has been instrumental in propelling us into a new epoch of mobile computing, offering the liberty to work, learn, and relax wherever and whenever we please.Furthermore, Wi-Fi has laid the groundwork for emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These advancements are fueling the forthcoming wave of innovation and transformation, promising exciting possibilities for our future. Hence, as we brace ourselves for the impact of AR/VR, let's not forget the integral role that Wi-Fi continues to play in this tech-infused narrative.

I harbor an optimistic outlook, firmly believing that Wi-Fi will serve as the wireless powerhouse propelling a multitude of innovations across various sectors.So, I promptedMidjourney to imagine what our society might look like in 2033, deeply impacted by the empowering force of Wi-Fi.Clearly a utopian world awaits us.

2033 – the utopia of Wi-Fi

2033 – the utopia of Wi-Fi

Happy World Wi-Fi Day from Extreme Networks!

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About the Author
David Coleman
Director, Wireless Networking at the Office of the CTO

David D. Coleman is the Director of Wireless Networking at the Office of the CTO for Extreme Networks. David is a technology evangelist, public speaker and proficient author.

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