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As a wireless engineer, the most exciting thing I saw at Atmosphere was the announcement of Open Locate. This initiative promises to locate the wireless infrastructure, in a universal reference frame (latitude and longitude), automatically and precisely. This capability is enabled using a combination of GPS technology and the Fine Time Measurement (FTM) protocol. While I believe Aruba is still scratching the surface of the potential Open Locate brings, the following benefits were highlighted during Atmosphere.

Indoor location

Today, outdoor location applications and indoor location applications use different technology for determining the application user's location. Adding GPS-based location awareness to the Wi-Fi infrastructure brings the potential to eliminate this discontinuity between indoor and outdoor mobile application behavior. Open Locate creates new possibilities and a new way to approach mobile applications that offer indoor locations services such as asset tracking and indoor wayfinding.

Wi-Fi calling

Wi-Fi calling can be very beneficial in buildings where cellular coverage is inadequate. However, Wi-Fi calling has lacked precise location information necessary for emergency services like dialing 911, leading to safety risks associated with its use. Open Locate has the potential to mitigate these risks by providing precise location of the indoor wireless network using GPS and FTM.

Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi 6E brings a massive amount of capacity and potential to the wireless networks of the future by permitting unlicensed use of the 6 GHz spectrum. Permitting unlicensed use does come with rules to avoid disruption of existing licensed 6 GHz wireless network operators. One of the rules relates to one of the classifications of AP's and where it's permitted to operate. Standard Power (SP) AP's are required to have the ability to self-locate so they can participate with an automated frequency coordination (AFC) system. This is mandated by the FCC to prevent Wi-Fi 6E AP's from interfering with existing licensed 6 GHz wireless networks. Open Locate will unlock the full potential of Wi-Fi 6E by providing the capability to meet the requirements for SP operation indoors.

Operational efficiency

Last, but certainly not least, Open Locate and Aruba Central bring automatic placement of AP's on maps, eliminating the manual effort network administrators have traditionally had to perform. In addition to eliminating this manual effort, Open Locate will also ensure the location of every AP is accurate and remains accurate in the event AP's are repositioned after the initial installation. 

Open initiative

What is most powerful about Open Locate is that Aruba is making this information freely and readily available in all network tools and applications and throughout the ecosystem over standardized interfaces. This is why Aruba chose to name it "Open" Locate. I believe that making such a powerful capability openly available will significantly increase the adoption of this technology within the enterprise wireless industry. I'm very excited to see how this technology impacts the Wi-Fi industry in the future.