How AI is transforming the next-gen Wi-Fi infrastructure

Sheikh Sadiq of ALT Technology comments on how 5G and AI will forever impact the way we work

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How AI is transforming the next-gen Wi-Fi infrastructure (iStock)
By  Kevin Sebastian Published  April 25, 2019

The way we work has evolved significantly with the dominance of automation. The rollout of 5G and the ensuing adoption of machines that are learning to adopt will further impact the way we work.

And connecting us to these multiple processes is the Wi-Fi system. A recent study indicated hotel guests' preference for free Wi-Fi compared to free breakfast is a point to note. Safe, secure and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity is critical to individuals and businesses all over.

That's more so a reason why a seamless Wi-Fi network is ever so important and managing the network is going hi-tech. The Wi-Fi technology in itself has evolved from autonomous access points to controller-based architecture. Gone are the days when a typical network would only handle several hundred devices and endpoints. Today there are several hundred thousands of connected devices and innumerable endpoints that are being managed.

During instances of downtime, IT managers have been struggling of late to sort the massive data source emanating from the wireless network, identify its root cause and fix it in time.  Manual classification of received messages and their analysis have become more untenable. That's where machine learning and artificial intelligence is beginning to play an increasing role. Troubleshooting is moving beyond humans and into the domain of machines. In what can be termed as a loop, a seamless Wi-Fi system has enabled the evolution of AI and that in turn is now playing a role in enabling a trouble-free, self-healing Wi-Fi network.

AI is already turning out to be a game changer across various sectors and almost all new products, software and services will be AI-driven and the Wi-Fi technology is no exception. We are already seeing the evolution of a new system that can simplify operations, understand and learn from user experience and identify and fix errors.

However, how exactly are AI-based solutions playing a role? The emergence of broadband and fibre optics have enabled the transfer of data at speeds of about 100 GB, allowing cloud-based computing to process data at speeds that cannot be matched by human elements. This enables the AI system to process and analyse data related to failed attempts, access point uptime, user experience etc.,

New systems being developed measure the user experience and correlate this with data extracted from the network. What's more, AI and machine learning are enabling the development of new systems based on its analysis.

The result has been the advent of various software-defined networks (SDN) to systems that can manage and self-correct. These solutions do not wait for the errors to occur and for the user to report back complaints. Instead, it constantly analyses available data, flags off areas of concern and gives actionable recommendation on how to fix the problem. Each of these devices is capable of extracting data from behavioral patterns and auto-adjust to boost performance. The AI system learns from past errors and enables rectification methods.

It should be noted that at present we are not talking about completely replacing human intelligence. AI can today guide us towards the right solutions. We still require human intervention. However, having said that we are also moving towards developing a self-managing system that can work without human intervention.

The result has been massive savings for the industry in terms of cost and time. It frees up IT managers from processing hundreds of thousands of logs in an effort to identify the problem.

We are expecting AI-enabled Wi-Fi solutions gaining widespread deployment within the next year.We are witnessing an exciting period of transformation and there is no better place to be than here.

The fast adoption of the latest technology and the widespread installation of 5G technology across the UAE makes it one of the fast adopters of machines that analyse, self learn and act on their own. IT managers across the region are also more trained towards adopting new innovations and dealing with its implementation.

The author heads the Chicago based ALIS Technology and is a partner at the UAE-based ALT Technology, an IT network and cybersecurity consultancy

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