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Wi-Fi 6: Feel the connection

When organisations are coming to look at what IT investments can do for their future they are coming up with even more complicated answers, to fairly simple questions.

What is the point of investing in WiFi today? Do we really need this? What benefit will it bring? How good is it?

Well, things have changed. When we talk about investing in WiFi and spending any amount of investment in today’s connectivity needs, we often think about how it will affect us, as a user, and try to relate that to the larger organisational needs.

Consider for a few minutes that the device you are connecting with today, and even the one you are reading this on, is likely not what you had 3 short years ago.

It likely won’t be the device you’ll be using in another 2 or 3 years hence. Especially if it’s a corporate device, with business refresh policies trying to keep up to date with what they want to use, be seen using, and what is the most cost-effective.

From personal experience, walking around with a 2kg laptop in a shoulder bag really does weigh you down. My neck is still not the same from my days lugging around a workstation laptop, because we HAD to have the apps installed on our machines, not in the cloud.

The following is a brief I have put together, to further explain the benefits of not just reviewing IF your wireless infrastructure is ready to be updated, but why you should pay some attention to something called WiFi 6.

With those devices I mentioned at the forefront of the technology evolution change, getting lighter, smarter, and sometimes not (how big is the iPhone 11 again vs the 7?) it is super important that the underlying infrastructure is ready to cope with HOW those devices demand service.

Those devices are migrating around your offices, and places you cater to.

So it’s not a huge leap to say with the mobile-connected world, so too does your centre of gravity, or brand reputation, shift. It’s easier to topple over if your centre is off, and so too is it easy to have a poor experience if you’re not centred around a fantastic underlying support structure.

Even your staff doing their day job by the same wire and air as the general public, demands the best end-user experience possible, as do the devices on your network. Yes, I just said devices AND end users.

Devices such as iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S10, HP’s latest Elitebook x360 G6, Splicecom phone systems, and new IoT devices such as IPTV cameras, fridges, even room temperature sensors to name but a few, will have an ever-growing need for better connectivity.

They’re “born-ready” or “bought-ready” for the connectivity challenges of the future, but what’s the point in investing in those amazing shiny goods, if your network isn’t up to it?

Having a network infrastructure that is fit for purpose today, and at the bleeding edge of technology, will enable you to feel the benefits of your investment decisions, and technology features you hear too often about, long into the future.

Consider that the mix of old and newer devices on the network, and the introduction of BYOD and IOT, can be handled better and more effectively by investing in a wireless infrastructure that allows both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz connection speeds. You don’t need to invest on making all corporate devices the same ever 3 years for example if you can make the right investments to unlock flexibility in how you choose to roll out new products (or introduce new services!) in the future.

Want to ensure the dedicated networks for your IoT devices are not impacting on your lodgers in your hotel, and they receive the best connectivity to their rooms?

Want to run a TV streaming service as a new source of demand into your environment, consuming a large part of your internet traffic, but don’t that to detract from the connectivity and experience of your users?

Are the point of sale systems in your environment starting to go wireless, and simply need power now, and you don’t want to impact on guest experience as they browse the clothes rails for 4th time in 10 minutes?

One of the main technical reasons and benefits to you, as the IT team and Business teams, about why WiFi 6 devices installed today are absolutely future-proofed, is due to enhancements such as OFDMA.

In short, OFDMA enables better handling of multiple simultaneously connected devices, and thus better handle areas where the need is greatest far more efficiently than before.

That important stakeholder Zoom meeting, happening at the same time of general internet browsing and guest wifi calling, without a dip in performance, is one of thing end-users expect, and you can expect to receive in the WiFi 6 world.

Handle more devices better with the same number of access points? I’m thinking about boarding houses, airport arrival lounges, hotels, shopping centres… where are the population that you are trying to cater to, and where is your wireless connectivity the most important?

Too often are wireless infrastructures dealing with individual users and packets of data at a time, and often ‘smart’ quality of service tools are delaying the service to the user because they are looking for those devices which are identified as important or applications that should get precedence.

OFDMA handles that delay and latency far better and allows you to do far more, with less, both now and in the future.

One of the main reasons WiFi 6 is so relevant to the true end-user populace, is something we probably haven’t considered in years past.

Remember I mentioned those devices are constantly looking for connectivity and trying to identify what’s important, or what data?

That means the devices are working, even in your laptop bags and jacket pockets, and those of you who still wear belt-clip phone holders. The batteries are being used, as phones talk and beep to each other.

Target wake time, a WiFi 6 innovation, negates needless battery drain (on WiFi6 capable devices such as the ones listed above) whilst these devices are not in active personal use. Simple, but effective.

In the future, you won’t have to design your break out areas in coffee shops to have power outlets, because your shoppers and students are focused on where the power outlets are first, and what your service is second.

When aiming for the “at-home” experience and feel, so too are both battery and wifi coverage ubiquitous expectations within a boarding house grounds, WiFi 6 access points go a ways to start relieving those challenges, and improving the end-user experience on the network.

Finally, through all of the above brief one consistent thing remains the same. The Wireless infrastructure we refer to is purely a way to connect to your wired network.

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