Should businesses opt for Wi-Fi 6, 5G, or both? D-Link’s Paul Routledge explores the connectivity options available to businesses in 2019 and beyond
2019 will be a landmark year for wireless connectivity and IoT, with the launches of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G making headlines across the globe.
In a world where access to the Internet and data has become a necessity for every business, the superfast Internet speeds and high bandwidth efficiencies that these technologies will deliver are something worth getting excited about.
However, for anyone looking to move beyond the hype and truly benefit from these standards, it’s important to know the tangible advantages of both, and how their introduction will meet current and future commercial needs.
In 2018, Wi-Fi Alliance, the organisation behind developing and naming the Wi-Fi standard we use today, introduced a new generation of Wi-Fi labelling designed to demystify and simplify wireless selection.
Gone is the daunting 802.11ax, 802.11ac, 802.11n naming convention, which caused a real annoyance for the average person trying to figure out what those numbers and little letters at the end meant, and in its place is a new user-friendly naming system.
802.11ax is replaced by Wi-Fi 6, the new name for the latest generation of Wi-Fi, and the same system applies retroactively to older standards. For example: 802.11n is now Wi-Fi 4; 802.11ac, Wi-Fi 5; and the upcoming 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6. As a result, it will be much easier to understand the capabilities, compatibility and speeds of their connections.
What advantages does Wi-Fi 6 bring to businesses?
The main selling point of Wi-Fi 6 is that it can provide up to four times better wireless performance in dense or congested areas compared to Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac).
As IoT becomes more established in homes and businesses, and the number of devices requiring connection to the Wi-Fi leads to increased wireless interference, particularly in urban areas, this will be of benefit to everyone. Wi-Fi 6 will also be compatible both with current standard frequencies (using 2.4 GHz and 5GHz) and future bands (1GHz and 6GHz) once available.
This means that if you want to guarantee connectivity with a broad range of devices, and serve legacy equipment, you need to be considering Wi-Fi 6. Also, with more of the spectrum available, Wi-Fi 6 can divide bandwidth into narrower sub-channels; providing more avenues for clients and access points to communicate along, and supporting additional connected devices on any given network.
MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) also gets an upgrade with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6.
Before MU-MIMO, imagine your Wi-Fi as a single lane road, along which cars must pass in both directions to receive and send information. You easily imagine why having to stop periodically to allow traffic in the opposite direction to pass causes slowdown. With MU-MIMO, extra lanes are added to the road, so that you now have dedicated lanes for transferring information in both directions.