While the world in general still has some way to go to become truly ‘wireless’, the use of Wi-Fi connectivity is an integral part of nearly every business today.
However, it has now evolved to become about more than mere connectivity, but it is now a business tool that supports how users — both internally and externally — interact with their business.
For example, Wi-Fi can be used to engage, reward, and impress guests through personalised applications and targeted marketing.
This not only transforms Wi-Fi into a platform for supporting new business opportunities, but by virtue of the power of pervasive, reliable and secure high-bandwidth connectivity, it drives interaction across communities and value chains
According to Riaan Graham, Director: Enterprise at CommScope sub-Saharan Africa, the pervasive nature of mobile devices, combined with the ever-growing array of applications and services being accessed, not only creates a challenge for Wi-Fi, but puts tremendous strain on these networks.
“Statistics suggest that the demands placed on Wi-Fi, by businesses, will only increase in the future. By 2025, the number of connected devices is expected to reach over 75 billion.”
“Clearly then, the Wi-Fi network must provide a secure and reliable connection, one that can scale to support a wide range of new applications, devices, and use cases,” he says.
“There are limits on the current iteration (Wi-Fi 5), and these are most noticeable where a very high density of users exists – such as in stadiums, convention centres, transportation hubs and auditoriums.”
“Despite there being more users relying on Wi-Fi in these locations can be tricky – but users still expect a reliable and fast connection, even during peak usage times. ”
“At the same time, organisations managing these venues recognise the new business opportunities that Wi-Fi enables and seek to use it to increase levels of customer engagement, deliver marketing promotions and obtain detailed analytics.”
“This is where Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) comes into the picture.”
Wi-Fi 6 is more than just a new iteration of a common standard, it provides the capacity, efficiency, coverage, and performance required by users today.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi 6 provides the foundation for a host of current and emerging uses from streaming ultra high-definition movies, as well as mission-critical business applications that require high bandwidth and low latency.
It also supports high data rates, increased capacity, increased device performance and improved power efficiency.
“Earlier iterations of Wi-Fi were beneficial, but they were similar to driving on a slip road next to the highway – useful, – but not nearly as fast or effective as the highway itself.”
“Wi-Fi 6, on the other hand, puts us firmly on the main freeway, even as richer, more interactive, bandwidth-intensive applications continue to emerge.”
“With Wi-Fi 6 you can get to your destination easily, thanks to the higher capacity offered, as well as the better service quality and very low latency.”
“While it is never too early to begin preparing your business for the implementation of Wi-Fi 6, remember that hardware and solutions based on previous-generation protocols may struggle to meet the diverse and demanding needs of these new use cases.”
“Therefore, if an organisation plans on leveraging the myriad advancements in Wi-Fi standards in this manner, they must consider the need for both hardware and software functionality all built upon, and optimised for, the 802.11ax standard.”
He suggests that a little further down the road – or the highway, as the case may be – Wi-Fi 6 will play a key role in a number of areas.
These include Internet of Things (IoT) deployments, network operators using Wi-Fi 6 for mobile data offload, and Smart City initiatives leveraging it to roll out public connectivity.
“In today’s world, Wi-Fi has never been more important for businesses.”
“As enterprise demands on the network continue to increase exponentially, an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 is no longer simply nice to have.”
“Those organisations that are the quickest to invest in the requisite hardware and software functionality, built upon this latest standard, will find that it paves the way for them to lead the way into a bright digital future,” concludes Graham.