4/24/2019

802.11 ax is Wi-Fi 6, the next gen wireless network standard. Read about its benefits and listen to experts discussing it via a podcast.

If you’re anything like me, you’re always wondering when the best time is to buy a pc, or phone or technical gizmo. Why? Because the moment you buy the latest and greatest, a newer, better, faster, higher capacity version comes out!

The reality is, you will at some point need to upgrade your devices and if you’re an IT person, you’ll also need to upgrade your network to support the technology and the increasing number of varied devices taking advantage of it and the Wi-Fi it provides.

Networks are feeling the pressure of IoT

What about your business? How long can you afford to wait for the next best thing just because you know there will always be something even better down the line? Your customers and staff are already pushing the limits of what your network can handle, even if you upgraded just last year. And, if your network is not “that bad” yet, it will soon be as WLAN radios have become so cheap that they are ending up in more and different devices that your network will end up having to support. The demand for connectivity and WLAN density will bring your older WLAN infrastructure to its knees.  So, what can you do about it?

Wi-Fi 6 to the rescue

The latest and greatest Wi-Fi technology to be heading to market is 802.11ax, or as it is also known, Wi-Fi 6. What the “6” means is that it is the sixth generation of Wi-Fi technology, which is a lot easier to remember than the various letters placed after 802.11!

Wi-Fi 6 offers many benefits, however the most significant are:

1. Better raw performance. The multiple user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) downlink/uplink and ability to scale up to eight streams help increase throughput by up to four times, and support for 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) packs more bits further increasing capacity.

2. Better dense client environment support with orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), for the massively connected world of users and the Internet of Things (IOT).

Lower latency which translates into better performing applications.

High density, higher throughput applications to benefit the most

Wi-Fi 6 will help applications in industries that have heavy throughput demand and high-density requirements. Industries such as airports where you have a high volume of users passing through at any given time, whether they are using the airport as a transfer point or as a departure location, Wi-Fi access for information or entertainment to pass some time is imperative.

Additional industries include higher education institutions like colleges and universities with their broad and diverse user base, applications, and devices. Healthcare is experiencing a growing need to modernize services with IoT. Smart cities with their various departments, civic buildings, and citizens all have specific requirements, but all need better network performance, and the list goes on. Any network that must provide support for high throughput applications in a high-density environment will benefit the most from Wi-Fi 6.

2.4GHz & 5GHz deployment

We all know the current 2.4 GHz band remains crowded. However, Wi-Fi 6 brings some relief as all major improvements of this technology such as uplink MU-MIMO, downlink MU-MIMO, OFDMA, 1024-QAM, target wake time (TWT) and more are coming to both Wi-Fi bands. This will significantly improve the efficiency of 2.4GHz clients which will be dominated by IoT.

Wi-Fi 6, is it available?

802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), an almost ratified standard along with Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) certification and compliance, is expected to be available by Q3 of 2019. Every network manager should start thinking about 802.11ax, especially if you’re still using 802.11n or if you’re considering deploying many new wireless devices or into new spaces where WLAN will be in high demand.

How can ALE help?

ALE Wi-Fi solutions are found in enterprises of all sizes, from small to extra-large, in various verticals such as healthcare, education in primary/K-12 or large universities, transportation, retail, hospitality, government and even utilities. 

Many of our customers look at upgrading their Wi-Fi infrastructure every 4-5 years and with Wi-Fi 6, some will begin transitioning earlier than that – at least partially, depending on areas where their network is reaching capacity as well as those who simply want the latest technological advances. In the next 24 months, we expect most enterprises to have some components of their infrastructure running on this newest technology.

Given that upgrading your network is not as fast as upgrading a personal device, now might be a good time to start planning your network infrastructure upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 before your users and IoT devices bring your network to its knees.

For more information

For more details on Wi-Fi 6 and what you can expect, check out my podcast with Kevin Tolly of The Tolly Group

Tags - Mobile Campus, WLAN, Mobility, Internet of Things

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Subash Bohra photo for blog author page

Subash Bohra

Senior Product Manager, ALE

Technology enthusiast striving to improve end users and enterprise customers digital journey and experience. Currently Sr. Product Manager @ Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise helping define and design the platform evolution in the areas of #Cloud #Wi-Fi #IoT #Analytics.

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