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Wi-Fi 6 Business Benefits for Early Adopters

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This 8-minute video discusses the business drivers for migrating to Wi-Fi 6, outlining the benefits to early migration ahead of the Wi-Fi 6 client explosion.

Read the transcript below:

Today I'm going to discuss Wi-Fi 6 and the underlying technology that is different in Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6 is the current name for 802.11ax. The WIFI Alliance is not expected to ratified the current Wi-Fi 6 standard until the end of 2020. The WIFI Alliance went back through and renamed all of the 802.11 standards such as 802.11 and 802.11b and 802.11a and 802.11g, 802.11n and named them Wi-Fi 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. You could also see Wi-Fi 6 referred to as high efficiency wireless or HEW.

The modern workplace

The evolution of the modern workplace now has open floor plans. Our modern office is an all-wireless office and we use wireless collaboration tools through voice and video and streaming apps. There is an exponential growth in wireless traffic through mobile devices, Internet of Thing (IoT) devices, smart devices and how people work has changed. Wireless is typically the primary network within an office. Wi-Fi 6 is designed to solve the problem of more devices, more simultaneous users, more applications, more bandwidth hungry apps and devices that need longer battery life. 

Designing for capacity, not coverage

Given that the design of the modern office has changed substantially, that means that we have to rethink our current wireless deployment design. We have to plan for higher density AP placements, because you need to be closer to the access point to get the higher speeds in Wi-Fi 6. If the client device isn’t close to the Wi-Fi 6 Access Point (AP), your Wi-Fi session will downshift to lower connectivity speeds. 

Fundamentally, we changing our wireless designs to support capacity not just coverage. In previous days, we designed strictly for coverage models where APs were put wherever they were most likely to be used; like conference rooms, lunchrooms, break rooms, wherever people gathered.

When designing for capacity, ultimately more access points will be deployed. The goal is give every end user device an optimal experience - fast connectivity and supporting many more concurrent users than ever before. 

Channel bonding and spectrum

It may seem that there are plenty of non-overlapping channels available in the 5GHz spectrum, and bonding channels together to make 40, 80 or 160 MHz wide channels, is ideal, but that's not considered “Best Practices” and here is why. In the 5GHz spectrum, if channels are bonded together, and 160 MHz wide channels are created, you’ve created a Wi-Fi network where there are only 2 non-overlapping channels to use. The Best Practice is still to set the channel widths to 20 MHz, and let the algorithm within your wireless vendors’ hardware determine when it is possible to bond channels. The channel bonding decisions being based upon what client devices are currently present in the RF environment and what channel widths those client devices can support.

New spectrum

On the radar for the Americas, there will be some channels that will be added in the 6 GHz spectrum, but that's kind of outside the scope of the conversation for today, but just be aware that it's coming.

Office design trends - the "new normal"

Your current Wi-Fi deployment is probably not designed for capacity. It's probably not designed for mission critical applications, it's probably a dated standard like 802.11n.  It may be difficult to operate, you may have weak security configured, you may have legacy networks.

What we all have right now is Covid-19, and this means is very few people are actually at the office. Most people are working from home, and as such, the office design trends for the “new normal” have changed. We are now shifting to design for and support remote workers.

We are reimagining the use of “hot desks” or “hotel desks”, the practice of using shared office space will require an overhaul based upon how these workplaces and workstations are monitored and cleaned. We're going to see smaller and semi open meeting rooms with more desk devices where people can bring in their personal computers and phones and use proximity pairing and no touch collaboration.

We're seeing more collaboration tools and less travel as technology powers meetings in the future. As a result, more and more distributed teams and employees coming to the office at different times, there will be fewer spontaneous meetings.

The monitoring and analysis of common space usage in offices will leverage the location tracking capabilities of Wi-Fi infrastructures.

Controlling the maximum number of people in a meeting room at any time is now a focal point of office spaces. Organizations can build alerts based upon capacity tracking of spaces, popularity of spaces or even create triggers to clean a room after it's been used to hold an in-person meeting.

Real estate usage will be optimized by leveraging location tracking capabilities of wireless infrastructures as well. Using insights and analytics will be the best way to demonstrate savings ROI on real estate holdings. 

Taking a look at what's needed to work from home when you extend the corporate office into the home office, here are some of the current popular hardware solutions from Cisco, Cisco Meraki and Aruba.

Cisco solutions can utilize an 1815T Teleworkers Access Point, a WebEx Desk Pro video conferencing display, a DX80, a Room Kit Mini, or maybe leverage Cisco Meraki access points for the home. A Cisco Meraki solution could leverage any of the MX security appliance platform options whether it be a MX64, MX67 or a MX65 or a MX68W with wireless built in.

We could see a Meraki Z1 or Z3 teleworkers gateway, Meraki MR Access Points or MX Security Appliance devices to support remote worker VPN connectivity. The Aruba devices that you might see deployed in the extension of a corporate office could be the Aruba Instant APs for remote access, work from home, or hospitality type deployment. The Aruba Instant H series access points have a small form factor and a convenient desk top stand. You might see the Aruba VIA application deployed on mobile phones, laptops or desktops to create secure connectivity from wherever the end user is, back to the corporate office. Aruba VPN concentrators can also be used to support Instant AP's via VPN and RAP deployments and Aruba supports cloud and on-premises management options.

End user experience improvements

End users will see improvements in higher data rates, increased overall network capacity, reduced latency, greater reliability, and improved power efficiency. Utilizing the Target Wait Time feature is achieving up to 3 times better battery life for client devices. New data encoding structures and signaling procedures are enabling better transmit and receive efficiencies. Scheduled uplink and downlink OFDMA for deterministic, cellular like latency, reliability and QoS is all part of the improved Wi-Fi 6 end user experience. Achievements of 3 to 4 times more throughput than 802.11ac with OFDMA, and up to 4 times capacity gain in scenarios with BSS coloring have been tested. With WI-Fi 6 at the technology level, we're seeing larger channel widths that are possible, more spatial streams, faster encoding, Multi-User MIMO, up to 10 Gigabit throughput with Wi-Fi 6.

WWT knows wireless

We know that deploying wireless can be complex. WWT offers a number of workshops, and offers customized lab or proof of concept environments in our Advanced Technology Center, or we can support onsite wireless services for site surveys, workshops or briefings. Our Integrated Technology Center can help speed staging and deployment, or our managed services offerings could enable you to offload the ongoing operations of your wireless infrastructure to us.

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