For the past 20 years, Wi-Fi has created countless benefits for enterprises around the world. A report commissioned by Wi-Fi Alliance® estimates the annual global economic value of Wi-Fi at $1.96 trillion in 2018 and projecting that number to surpass $3.47 trillion by 2023. Not only do enterprises depend upon Wi-Fi to connect internal devices and people, but a growing number of enterprises also provide Wi-Fi access to external customers and visitors.
In fact, for the first quarter of 2019, spending on wireless technologies increased 6.9 percent overall; moreover, enterprise spending grew at a faster clip than consumer spending. This trend is expected to continue when the next generation of Wi-Fi – coined Wi-Fi 6 – is released later this year, giving enterprise users a plethora of new features that will revolutionize what Wi-Fi does and how it can be used.
For enterprise users, one of the most important features of Wi-Fi 6 is that it’s designed to operate in today’s increasingly congested environments. This becomes especially relevant when considering that the average person today has about 4 connectable devices. That number is expected to grow to more than 9 devices per person by 2025. To ensure enterprises can handle that growth, Wi-Fi 6 speeds will reach nearly 10 Gbps, which is 40 percent faster than what’s achievable with Wi-Fi 5.
Technology gets an upgrade in Wi-Fi 6, as well. For instance, today’s Wi-Fi makes use of multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technology. But Wi-Fi 6 technology allows a router to communicate with multiple devices at the same time, rather than broadcasting to one device, and then then next, and then next. Right now, MU-MIMO allows routers to communicate with four devices at a time. Wi-Fi 6 will allow devices to communicate with up to eight.
Another significant technological advancement to Wi-Fi 6 that impacts enterprise is orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), which allows one transmission to deliver data to multiple devices at once. Likewise, target wake time – another technology upgrade in Wi-Fi 6 – reduces the amount of time that antennas need to be powered on to transmit and search for signals. This translates to improved battery life, especially for sensors and other devices in the Internet of Things (IoT).
Enterprises also will benefit by utilizing Passpoint™ technology and the Next Generation Hotspot program (HS2.0), especially for enterprises that provide guest Wi-Fi access. NBH is a Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) program that makes the process of finding, gaining access and roaming to Wi-Fi networks a seamless experience. Passpoint is an industry-wide solution to streamline network access in Wi-Fi hotspots and eliminate the need for users to find and authenticate a network each time they connect.
The combination of NGH and Passpoint create a seamless and secure Wi-Fi experience. But enterprises also can use the technologies to create innovative monetization opportunities, as well as to apply analytics to data, thereby promoting business and engaging more closely with customers.
Finally, it’s important to note that enterprises soon will be grappling with how 5G networks will impact their business strategies. Importantly, Wi-Fi 6 will work in conjunction with 5G to ensure the success of both technologies. For a number of reasons – cost, deployment options, technology availability – most enterprises will embrace the strategy of using Wi-Fi when they can and 5G when they must.
WBA already is developing use cases to illustrate the real-world implications for Wi-Fi 6 and the enterprise. When Wi-Fi has its 21st birthday next June, savvy enterprises already will have a plethora of Wi-Fi 6 deployments to celebrate.
To find out more about Wi-Fi 6 and the work the Wireless Broadband Alliance is doing visit our website https://wballiance.com/wi-fi-6-deployment-guidelines-scenarios/
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