Many organizations that have relied on Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 are now realizing that these aging wireless technologies simply don’t have the capacity or the throughput to handle the ever-increasing demands of today’s business environment. These networks have more devices connecting to them than they have channels to distribute traffic through, leading to slowdowns or even temporary network failures, which cost time and money.
Meanwhile, new technology and business realities are poised to increase the demands placed on these networks. Devices are becoming more powerful, and applications are getting more bandwidth hungry. And distributed workforces have encouraged greater use of cloud-based applications, which have placed an even greater strain on legacy Wi-Fi networks.
To keep doing what they’re doing and do it better, organizations want to take advantage of new technologies without causing legacy operations to struggle. They’re increasingly seeking to leverage data to drive strategic decision-making, optimize operations, and identify new revenue streams. These organizations are leveraging the capabilities of Wi-Fi 6/6E to enable their digital transformation strategies. Here’s a look at how a some are harnessing the strengths of the latest and greatest version of Wi-Fi.
For some organizations, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E provide the ability to rise above today’s limitations by overcoming the increasing strain that additional, more powerful devices are placing on legacy wireless networks. The sports/entertainment industry is a good example.
The proliferation of more powerful mobile devices in high-density environments like stadiums has placed enormous demands on existing wireless networks. With attendees trying to do everything from livestream event to use in-game betting apps, to paying for concessions with their online wallet, the limited channels available to Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 mean that traffic routing is becoming increasingly inefficient. This leads to slowdowns and even network collapses.
With enhanced efficiency and multi-user capabilities, an additional 1,200 MHz of bandwidth to distribute traffic through, and superior traffic-routing capabilities, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are poised to ensure everything that helps bring people in keeps running smoothly.
Organizations in the education sector are looking to reap similar benefits. While a noisy stadium and a quiet lecture hall in a college or university sound dissimilar at a glance, the network side of the equation is humming the same tune. These are also high-density environments where people are running bandwidth-intensive applications. Rather than livestreaming a homerun or buying a beer with their phone, they might be watching a lecture or doing a test online.
In the K-12 environment, e-learning and cloud use have become part-and-parcel of people’s expectations of the education process. For example, a kindergarten class might be streaming video so parents can check on their children in real-time. A high-school class might have half of its students present in person and half joining in via video stream. These bandwidth-intensive offerings simply need more sophisticated networks to manage them.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E extend the capabilities of K-12 and higher education wireless networks with new spectrum that can support the most critical applications requiring maximum speed and bandwidth. The new standard offers not only three times more channels than were available in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands combined, but a near-pristine 6 GHz channel, which offers greater speed to support a variety of enhanced education applications.
For the healthcare industry Wi-Fi 6 and 6E provide the improved reliability and security needed to guarantee continuity of service for a variety of mission-critical applications. With the new standard, healthcare facilities are in a better position to adopt newer, more innovative technologies, such as telemedicine, high-resolution imaging, and more cloud-based applications. And because Wi-Fi 6 and 6E support 2.4 GHz devices, existing operations that work on that band can have their functional lifespan extended, allowing healthcare facilities to get more value from existing investments. Finally, the improved security certification built into all Wi-Fi 6/6E devices offers peace of mind for network security and makes it easier to conform to data privacy regulations.
While every enterprise stands to benefit from superior wireless infrastructure, many are also looking at the flexibility and the opportunity to leverage more data-driven operational insights that the new wireless standards offer.
Consider the manufacturing sector. Wireless sensors and equipment have played an increasingly large role on the production floor for decades. These devices that control and gather data on operations rely on a stable network that can efficiently route traffic. New technologies — such as Augmented Reality, mesh-networked robotics, and low-latency video collaboration — can further improve efficiency and safety. But they will add additional strain on already stretched wireless networks. Ensuring that the existing suite of wireless sensors and equipment can operate in concert with new technologies, without compromising the network, will be critical for all operations.
Wi-Fi 6’s and 6E’s additional 6 GHz range and huge increase in both channels and bands provide the critical network stability that enterprises in the manufacturing sector need to stabilize existing operations and get ready for additional network demands. All that extra room and more efficient data-routing capabilities also enable data-gathering to happen much more efficiently without compromising other network traffic. And better access to more data means better insights from the data resident in the network to drive strategy and decision-making while easing network support needs.
For the hospitality and retail sectors, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E provide stability. Businesses in these spaces typically operate under tight margins, and competition is fierce. To be successful, they must constantly look for new ways to increase operational efficiencies, leverage new wireless technologies to generate revenue, and collect data. They can neither afford network failures nor missed opportunities.
The improved capabilities of Wi-Fi 6/6E offer greater stability and security for growing networks, providing the peace of mind needed to handle both current demands and future opportunities. With this more powerful and flexible wireless foundation, hospitality operations and retailers are well-positioned to access cloud-based networking, artificial intelligence, and the bleeding-edge wireless performance required for increased data collection. These new capabilities will help reduce operating expenditures (OPEX) and provide the ability to integrate new wireless technologies into daily operations, such as more powerful mobile devices and bandwidth-hungry applications, tablets, and electronic displays.
Of course, different organizations in the sectors highlighted above will take their own unique approach to how they leverage Wi-Fi 6/6E to enable their own digital transformation.
Extreme Networks solutions are built to help you get maximum value out of Wi-Fi 6/6E for wherever you need their wireless infrastructure to go today and tomorrow: