News & Updates

Should You Make the Jump to Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi has become more than just a nice-to-have, it is now a critical resource for enterprise operations, whether supporting user devices or connectivity to data sources such as IoT devices. As the demand for connectivity grows, businesses can battle to stay ahead of the technology curve and provide improvements to the way Wi-Fi is used.

Unless you’ve made a large upgrade recently, the performance of the current business Wi-Fi standard tends to not match the usage expectations of users. The last thing any organisation wants is reduction in employee productivity because they can’t send emails due to a congested network or hamper mobility around the workplace.  These expectations also extend to users in environments such as accommodation sites or age care facilities who expect to be able to stream content easily but are often met with slow speeds.

With more and more Wi-Fi enabled devices in play and daily usage increasing, it only makes sense that Wi-Fi should evolve to support the demand.

This is where the next generation of wireless standard comes into play. The introduction of Wi-Fi 6, also known as “802.11ax”, is here and it’s promising to enhance user experience with new technology designed to increase throughput speeds, increase density of user devices, speed up the handover between access points on a network, and lower latency.  

If you’ve been trying to navigate the hype of Wi-Fi 6, you may be familiar with the apparent improved features, but there are still some important things to consider before making the jump. We asked Ross Macbeth, one of our wireless specialists, to dive into the benefits and what it means for enterprise.

Aqura: What is the big deal about Wi-Fi 6?

RM: There’s no doubt that Wi-Fi 6 delivers more than current standards. This is great for businesses with heavy wireless usage. Simple tasks like video calls or downloading or transferring data-heavy files will become quicker.

However, there is more to Wi-Fi 6 than just being faster. Wi-Fi 6 utilises new technology that allows for many more devices to be connected simultaneously, with reduced latency. This is possible through an improved function called OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) which is designed to greatly reduce network overhead and can shape the way the network can support the rising amount of bandwidth-demanding applications.

Additionally, new Wi-Fi 6 Access Points have a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT), which can greatly improve the battery life of Wi-Fi devices by enabling more efficient device communication. This is hugely appealing to facilitate technology such as low-energy sensors. And with the growing dependency on Wireless devices in the workplace, this feature will be music to the ears of employees who need longer lasting battery life.

The benefits of Wi-Fi for business spans to customers and clients as well. Optimising the performance of your internal systems will improve how you get things done, meaning you can communicate better with your partners and clients.

Aqura: Should a company be looking to move today?

RM: Wi-Fi has become widespread and is an important resource for many organisations. If your current wi-fi doesn’t meet your business needs, then you should start exploring your options.

First ask, what is motivating you to make the change?

If you’re looking to exploit the benefits of increased device density, better handovers and lower latency, it may be worth looking at an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 Access Points. Keep in mind however that a new Wi-Fi 6 access point won’t resolve poor traffic management or backhaul issues.

With that in mind, is a Wi-Fi upgrade the best solution for your business needs or are alternatives like LTE more suitable?

If your organisation is looking to large scale automation of equipment and broad outdoor coverage, Private 4G LTE still remains the better choice for mission – critical applications and devices which need high capacity, low latency connections.

Utilising local cellular technology, Private LTE can be the better solution in specific use cases involving remote and underground areas.

This all comes down to having a clear understanding of your enterprise needs, to determine what solution is best. Wi-Fi 6 will be beneficial for locations that struggle to cope with multiple devices in a congested area such as stadiums and large public venues. However, in other cases, choosing Wi-Fi alone may not allow you to achieve the level of performance that LTE networks can offer from the perspective of security, reliability, coverage and latency (Khan, S. (2019). Private LTE vs. Wi-Fi: Comparing Options for Enterprise Connectivity – Telit)

Before making the jump to Wi-Fi 6, ask yourself, are all your devices Wi-Fi 6 ready?

Although new Wi-Fi 6 Access Points support previous generation devices, it is important to note that if a Wi-Fi 6 router is not connected to a Wi-Fi 6 enabled client, then you won’t be seeing much of the benefits. It is worth checking if the wireless equipment you currently have is compatible with the new standard before making the switch.

From an end-user perspective, most current mobile devices (iPhone 11 and Samsung S10) already have Wi-Fi 6 chips in them that will allow them to utilise this technology straight away. We will see this as a driver for enterprises to adopt Wi-Fi 6 to meet expectations of their users. It will also help improve network speed and reduce congestion for others with older Wi-Fi devices.

At the end of the day, we’re all looking for the best solution to our business problems. But the question is, is your current wireless technology partner able to provide this?

Aqura Technologies has vast experience in helping organisations support the development and adoption of wireless solutions. We specialise in providing fast, reliable and secure Wireless solutions that are essential to efficient, safe and profitable business operations.

We have the in-house capability and utilise industry recognised tools capable of modelling Wi-Fi 6 network deployments.

If you would like a better understanding of how a wireless solution can help your business, get in contact with us and we can help you determine the best way forward for your business needs.

 

Ross Macbeth has vast experience in LAN, FAN, WAN, structured cabling, FTTX (GPON and XGPON) and industrial networks. His technical knowledge and passion for the industry has facilitated in the development of long-lasting customer relationships and has allowed him to amass a very high-level understanding of fibre optic networks.