Wi-Fi 6 is the new buzzword in the enterprise connectivity solutions space. The technology efficiently uses the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and is backward compatible with devices from previous generations. IT offers speeds of up to 11 Gbps and is, therefore useful for enterprises that require a high-throughput network. Wi-Fi 6 also makes the videoconferencing, cloud access and virtual events experience smoother and more seamless. What also makes it an attractive solution for enterprises is its better streaming capabilities, dependable connectivity and improved filesharing capacity. Moreover, the deployment of Wi-Fi 6 can enhance the battery life of client devices such as smartphones, laptops and IoT devices. Given the host of benefits offered by the technology, its integration with the Wi-Fi network of enterprises can help create unique use cases.

A look at some of the key benefits of the technology, its use cases and role in the 5G ecosystem, and the way forward…

Wi-Fi 6: Benefits and use cases

As with any new version of a technology, Wi-Fi 6 comes with a host of benefits over previous generations. It promises a significantly better performance. Analysts have pointed out that a multiple user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO)

downlink/uplink and the ability to scale up to eight streams help increase throughput by up to four times. Wi-Fi 6 also includes the beamforming capability to address dead zones in buildings. In addition, the technology comes with orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), which helps provide greater support to the dense client environment, a key necessity in today’s age of connected devices and IoT. With OFDMA modulation come enhanced capacity and improved traffic management.

Further, Wi-Fi 6 technology has lower latency, which translates into better performing applications. Owing to this feature, the technology can be of immense value for industries that have heavy throughput demand and high density requirements. For instance, airports have a large number of users at any given time and the provision of a seamless Wi-Fi connection to these users is a key goal. This purpose can be fulfilled by Wi-Fi 6.

In the education sector, too, universities and colleges can deploy Wi-Fi 6 technology to facilitate the efficient use of various applications, devices and services being offered on the college premises that require robust connectivity. Further, the healthcare sector is seeing growing adoption of various new-age technology solutions such as blockchain-based data management systems and IoT-based monitoring devices. Given the criticality of solutions deployed in hospitals, it is imperative that they be supported by seamless connectivity, which can be provided by technologies like Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6 can also be of great use in smart cities. The different components that sum up to make a city smart are dependent on a robust connectivity system. Be it a command and control centre, a traffic monitoring system, or a CCTV camera surveillance system, they all require constant connectivity and a better performing network. Thus, any network that provides support for high-throughput applications in a high density environment will benefit the most from Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6 in the 5G scenario

Industry analysts have pointed out that Wi-Fi 6 can help enterprises derive value from 5G. This is because Wi-Fi 6 can deliver highly competitive performance without requiring a complete overhaul of existing systems. This allows enterprises to access 5G-level performance at a more affordable price point. As per the findings of some key industry reports, Wi-Fi 6 will be able to support MU-MIMO, dual-band frequencies, and flexible channel sizes. Owing to this high capacity bandwidth, Wi-Fi 6 technology can enable enterprises to implement and scale up 5G use cases ahead of schedule.

While Wi-Fi 6 will play a supporting role in facilitating 5G use cases, industry experts have pointed out that the two technologies will also operate in isolation as they have their own unique use cases as well. Analysts have highlighted that cellular technologies such as 5G will continue to dominate outdoor environments requiring large geographical coverage, while Wi-Fi will be more useful in indoor environments and on campuses.

That said, there is still time for 5G to reach commercial scale in the industry. Until then, Wi-Fi 6 is the key technology that can effectively cater to the growing bandwidth requirement.

By Diksha Sharma