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Wi-Fi 6: How Switching Can Impact Your Business

Date posted: 10 November 2021  –   Category: Wi-Fi Services

When Wi-Fi 5 was released in 2014, it came out to a very different world. Smartphones had just edged out dumb phones in sales. Much of the general excitement around the Internet of Things revolved around how you can use it to automatically lock your doors or control security cameras.

Wi-Fi 6 comes online in a much busier space. The lights in your office, the printers and fax machines, your deskphone, even the coffee maker–loads more connected devices are jockeying for bandwidth on your network.

But just because the next standard is available, doesn’t mean it’ll go mainstream quickly. Many old devices and routers won’t be compatible with Wi-Fi 6, which means companies looking to upgrade early will have to buy new products even before their existing tech reaches end of life. 

For now, Wi-Fi 5 speeds are sufficient for daily use–if you’re a consumer. But in business, there are merits to upgrading sooner rather than later.

Widening the Data Highway

Wi-Fi 6 is around 40 percent faster than the previous standard, capable of a maximum throughput of 9.6Gbps. Faster broadband is always a good thing. Yet in this case, it’s not the new standard’s largest selling point for businesses. Many will do fine with only 100Mbps.

The operative word here is theoretical. Just because it can support 9.6Gbps doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll always get. The fastest speed you can expect will be determined by your service plan. 

What Wi-Fi 6 offers is greater capacity. Leveraging multi-user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology, Wi-Fi 6 can deliver stable speeds to more devices.

In a household where the most stress a network can experience is streaming Netflix in high definition while someone attends online classes, the increased capacity might not mean much right now. Yet in an office where video conference calls, endless file uploads, and work software are all competing to merge into the network? Wi-Fi 6 presents a way to decongest bottlenecks created by the increasingly bandwidth-hungry tasks.

Enabling IoT Solutions

It’s 8:30am on a workday. Knowing your schedule starts at 9am, the thermostat in your office kicks in. You walk into work and, instead of shuffling to the machine to make coffee, you ask Alexa to make it for you.

These micro IoT ecosystems already exist in many modern offices. Yet the true power of IoT devices for work lie leagues beyond brewing beans automatically. Internet-enabled devices like sensors can provide a wealth of data businesses can use to improve operations and workplace safety. Wearables can monitor the health of workers, particularly in hazardous work environments like factories and plants. Remote sensors can predict when a machine is about to break down.

These higher level use cases, especially those that involve safety, will need to be supported by reliable and fast networks like Wi-Fi 6. With a range that’s over 50 percent more than the previous standard, it’s also going to be beneficial for deploying IoT devices such as sensors over greater distances.

Increased Security

As the network of connected devices expands, so do the vulnerabilities to threats and data breaches. Even your smart coffee machine can be used as a gateway to the other Internet-connected devices on your network.

Wi-Fi 6 utilises WPA3, which is currently the highest security protocol from the Wi-Fi Alliance. It uses 256-bit AES-GCMP encryption, an improvement from WPA2’s 128-bit encryption. Further, WPA3 uses an authentication technique that makes it extremely difficult for attackers to use the constant connecting and reconnecting of multiple devices to brute force their way into the network.

Better Battery for Mobile Devices

In order to keep a device connected to a Wi-Fi network, your router needs to constantly ping it over a set interval. This is a process that continues in the background, whether or not you’re using the device or not.

Wi-Fi 6 introduces a new feature called Target Wake Time (TWT). TWT takes a smarter approach by scheduling check-ins based on when data is being transmitted. Routers can instruct devices to only “wake” and access the network when needed, which can significantly reduce the drain on batteries. Using TWT, devices can potentially consume 67 percent less power.

Upgrading To Wi-Fi 6: What Do You Need To Change?

The next standard in wireless connectivity can bring significant improvements at the office. Yet before you harness those benefits, you will have to change your existing infrastructure to make it compatible with Wi-Fi 6.

First, you’ll have to buy new routers. Wi-Fi 6 routers are built with the ability to take full advantage of the standard’s widened capacity for more devices. Businesses who use a mesh system to amplify connectivity will also have to upgrade individual nodes to extend the performance boosts across the office.

Of course, devices on the network actually have to support Wi-Fi 6. Many mainstream mobile phones and laptops already do. If you’re using desktop computers at work, you’ll need to check your motherboards for compatibility.
Wi-Fi 6 can unlock better security and operational efficiency, especially for businesses looking to ease bottlenecks. TVNET can help determine whether you should wait to adopt, or give your network a boost now. Schedule a free consultation today.

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