A lot of ink has been spilled about Wi-Fi 6 and how it promises to be a game-changer. Many trade publications have encouraged its immediate adoption by businesses to take advantage of its benefits and to future-proof organizations. However, when many business leaders hear “Wi-Fi 6”, they may think of it as another hyped (and likely expensive) new technology that may or may not be important.
If you fit this category, it’s important to understand what Wi-Fi 6 is before you dismiss it out of hand. Wi-Fi 6 is a new Wi-Fi standard that promises higher connection speeds even when many users are on your network, using applications requiring a lot of bandwidth (videoconferencing, for example) at the same time.
Wi-Fi 6 promises, but does it deliver? The answer is yes.
Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi that, in addition to improving connection speeds, includes a host of new technologies that can be extraordinarily beneficial to any business or organization that must manage network resources under arable operating conditions.
Theoretically, on Wi-Fi 5, you could hit a maximum speed of 3.5 gigabytes-per-second (Gbps), but Wi-Fi 6 increases that maximum to 9.6 Gbps. Now, it’s important to note that a single computer does not typically reach these speeds for a single download, far from it. On a network, this speed is allocated across multiple devices. And on a heavily populated corporate network, the new 9.6 Gbps will yield greater potential speed per device.
Managing High-Density, High-Bandwidth Usage
But perhaps the more important benefit of Wi-Fi 6 is its effectiveness in improving speed, reliability, and power consumption when multiple devices are connected to a network. This is critical given that businesses must account not only for employee network activity but also for consumers who expect to be able to check a funny video a friend sent them or play a mobile game while they wait in line for service.
When you have a high density of mobile device users in a single area, all using applications requiring significant bandwidth, your older Wi-Fi infrastructure may not be able to support them. Further, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies whose sensors require continuous online access can gum up the works even further. And the last thing you want is a network overwhelmed with employee and consumer device requests, slowing down business operations and consumer access to their own devices, both diminishing the customer experience.
But Wi-Fi 6 routers are designed specifically to deal with high-density, high-bandwidth usage. Wi-Fi 6 uses a technology known as OFDMA (Orthogonal frequency division multiple access), which allows a single transmission to deliver data simultaneously to multiple devices. It also uses MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-user, multiple input, multiple output. MU-MIMO expands the number of devices a router can communicate with at one time. Both OFDMA and MU-MIMO are tremendously effective at managing network congestion, ensuring that, for example, your backroom video conference in your retail outlet won’t be slowed by consumer network activity on your showroom floor.
Reduced Power Consumption
Wi-Fi 6 can also significantly improve the battery life of your devices and reduce your power consumption needs. A feature called Target Wake Time allows a router to schedule times to check in and transmit signals to continuously connected devices. This feature is especially effective in reducing the power needs of IoT technologies, which only need periodic transmissions.
And in addition to improving operational efficiency, Wi-Fi 6 also improves cybersecurity – a necessity in this day and age of constant ransomware attacks. Wi-Fi 6 features a new security protocol, WPA3, which provides more secure authentication between routers and connected devices, individualized data encryption, and stronger protection against “brute force” attacks (efforts by hackers to guess passwords). While no single piece of technology can make a business hacker-proof, Wi-Fi 6, implemented in alignment with a robust internal cybersecurity plan, can greatly mitigate your risk of hackers successfully penetrating your network.
Another key benefit of Wi-Fi 6 is that adopting the new standard can help you future-proof your business to some extent. As new technologies are rolled out, with Wi-Fi 6, you’re unlikely to need to make substantial Wi-Fi upgrades to keep up. For example, Apple is making significant investments in augmented reality (AR) technology with the intent of mainstream adoption within the next decade. AR applications are resource-intensive, so ensuring your business has the infrastructure to support this and similar, evolving technologies now is likely a smart move.
If you’re looking to future-proof your business, you also may want to consider Wi-Fi 6E. This emerging standard is identical to Wi-Fi 6 in its underlying network management and security technologies. However, unlike Wi-Fi 6, 6E opens up the 6GHz band to Wi-Fi for devices in Canada, the U.S., European nations, and many other countries. The government of Canada has recently allowed Wi-Fi access for LPI, VLP, and standard power devices to this band, which can improve connection speeds well beyond those of Wi-Fi 6. While 6E devices are still coming online, the expanded capacity they offer will doubtlessly be increasingly necessary as new resource-intensive technologies become mainstream and business and consumer network resource demands continue to grow.
Upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 (or 6E) is not as daunting as it may first seem. Wi-Fi 6 routers can connect with Wi-Fi 5 devices and communicate with them according to that standard. You can either upgrade all of your devices at once or gradually phase out Wi-Fi 5 enabled devices over time as you see fit. But no matter how you implement Wi-Fi 6, you’ll want to do so strategically, in a manner that helps you maximize future performance, optimize cybersecurity, and minimize unnecessary expenditures.
Working with a trusted technology provider like Compunet Infotech is your best bet for effectively implementing Wi-Fi 6. With over three decades of experience serving businesses throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Compunet Infotech has the expertise you need to deploy and administer this new standard to provide better, more reliable, and more secure Internet access. Our staff will work with your team to help you assess your existing network infrastructure, identify and procure needed resources, and plan and execute their deployment effectively.
If you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve or just to improve your online access, contact us today and let’s discuss your business IT needs.