Wi-Fi 6 and why it matters

Ali Amer, Managing Director, Service Provider Sales, Middle East and Africa at Cisco talks Wifi 6 and why it's the next natural progression in networking

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Wi-Fi 6 and why it matters
By  Kevin Sebastian Published  June 2, 2019

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Along with 5G, Wi-Fi 6 is the massive shift in connectivity happening worldwide. 5G is the new industry standard for cellular networks, and Wi-Fi 6 is the new standard for those Wi-Fi networks found in businesses and hotspots around the world. Both of these new standards represent a quantum leap forward by delivering dramatically higher speeds, lower latency and greater density. This will allow businesses and consumers to do things unimaginable on previous Wi-Fi iterations.

How does it differ from what came before?

Wi-Fi 6 offers greater speed, latency and density. If you're in a conference room full of people, and you want 100 MBP throughput, Wi-Fi 6 is better in that high-density setting. Wi-Fi 6 also has something called deterministic scheduling, which allows for the use of any given band. It even makes significant improvements over today's Wi-Fi's power utilization in devices. Last but not least, if you're looking to download an HD movie in 10 seconds, Wi-Fi 6 can do it-however, Wi-Fi today, not likely.

Besides higher degree of predictability, the new Wi-Fi technology can support latencies of less than 1 millisecond, bandwidth of up to 10 Gbps and low-power IoT devices reliably connected at scale. This means Wi-Fi 6 can enable the proliferation of medical IoT devices, AR/VR-based immersive training, and automatic guided vehicles in warehouses. While supporting the trend of increasing workloads moving to the cloud with higher data rates, Wi-Fi 6 can unlock possibilities for improved operations and intelligent solutions in every vertical.

How will it improve the experience for the consumer?

Wi-Fi 6 will create a better experience for typical wireless networks with more predictable performance for demanding applications, such as 4K or 8K video, high-density, high-definition collaboration apps, all-wireless offices, and the IoT. With higher speeds and lower latency, it helps connected Wi-Fi devices preserve battery life. For example, a crowded baseball stadium is filled with internet-connected devices, which leads to slow speeds and connection for fans, inhibiting their ability to share photos, videos and content. Wi-Fi 6 will significantly improve our connections and will preserve our phones' battery life because they won't need to struggle to remain connected.

Another way we'll see the impact of Wi-Fi 6 is with immersive experiences that bring the physical world and digital worlds together. That's going to require high speeds and low latency. Think of AR/VR gaming in university dorms, HD imaging in health-care settings or mixed-reality training in manufacturing. Mixed reality requires high throughput and needs to be very quick with how things react within. As these technologies mature, so will mixed-reality applications, and this will have a significant impact in our day-to-day lives.

Wi-Fi 6 is often seen as a competitor to 5G. Do you see them as competing or complementary technologies and why?

5G and Wi-Fi 6 are complementary technologies. 5G is largely outdoors and mostly affects mobile devices outside of Wi-Fi networks. For example, anytime you're in the car or walking from the coffee shop to the office, 5G is going to keep you connected. But once you're in the office, you will keep that connectivity strength with Wi-Fi 6 indoors.

Today, mobile and Wi-Fi networks have become pervasive. These technologies can also work in tandem by making the hand-off between the two. Today, when you go into a Starbucks, you need to manually log onto that wireless network. We believe there's an opportunity to make the handoff between mobile and Wi-Fi network seamless and secure. 

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