Looking at the challenges and trends in connectivity and interconnections, this blog series introduces solutions powered by 5G and AI that bring benefits for enterprises along the digital transformation journey.
Why Wi-Fi 6 is an essential driver of digital transformation
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It has taken less than two decades for Wi-Fi to become a ubiquitous aspect of modern organisations, with customers and employees alike expecting easy access to fast and reliable networks.
So when the Wi-Fi network fails them, not only is this embarrassing for the network provider, but it also leads to lost productivity and sales.
As organisations accelerate their digital transformations, the pressure to invest in latest-generation wireless network technology is growing – not only to meet today’s expectations, but to ensure that wireless networks can also flex and evolve to meet emerging requirements.
The need for Wi-Fi 6
According to Tam Dell’Oro, a WAN analyst and founder and CEO of the research firm Dell’Oro group, many users are already frustrated with the performance of Wi-Fi networks.
“Users want to be able to walk from one location to another and receive the best Wi-Fi connection,” Dell’Oro says. “This is not supported with older Wi-Fi technologies and is a point of irritation.”
Rapid growth in data use is also placing strain on existing networks. High-bandwidth applications, such as 4K UHDTV, augmented reality, and virtual reality are becoming widely used in education, enterprise, and healthcare, with Gartner predicting 25 per cent of organisations will be using AR/VR applications by 2021. Delivering rich AR and VR experiences requires low packet loss and low-latency connections to create a jitter-free experience for users.
Networks also need to support more devices, such as those being connected via the Internet of Things, with research by Huawei suggesting two million new sensors will be connected every hour by 2025. And this doesn’t include the growing demand for remote connections, with FlexJobs finding 85 per cent of millennials prefer remote working.
All these needs must be catered for without increasing management overheads, meaning network owners require equipment that can be easily managed for optimal, interference-free performance.
These reasons and more are fuelling the decisions of transformative companies to invest in next-generation Wi-Fi 6 wireless access technology.
Not all Wi-Fi 6 is the same
Wi-Fi 6 offers numerous benefits over previous generations of wireless technology. For starters, it supports four times higher network bandwidth and user concurrency compared to Wi-Fi 5, with a host of other features to improve performance and reliability, and reduce the power drain for end-user devices.
Huawei has taken a leadership in Wi-Fi 6 innovation, with the introduction of 10 new AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 access point devices in February 2020. These feature a range of innovations that enable them to outperform the competition by offering seamless mobility, higher performance, and easier manageability, all while ensuring the best possible experience for specific users and critical network traffic.
For starters, Huawei is the first provider to enable always-on 100Mbps Wi-Fi continuous networking at scale, powered by Huawei’s leadership in 5G technologies, which means networks can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
It is also the only vendor to have implemented HE160 data transmission in eight spatial streams, featuring 9.6Gbps data transmission on 5GHz bandwidth and 1.15Gbps on 2.4GHz. This enables Huawei AirEngine access points to achieve 10.75 Gbit/s performance.
And Huawei is unique in its implementation of OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), which enables up to 1960 sub-carriers(in HT160MHz mode), together with MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output), which enables a wireless access point to connect with multiple users simultaneously. This improves spectrum resource utilisation, enabling Huawei AirEngine access points to set an industry benchmark of implementing 16 x 16 MU-MIMO. Together these innovations his provide for better single-user performance in multi-user concurrency scenarios.
AirEngine access points also use Smart Antenna technology with beamforming technology which analyses a user’s location and intelligently selects multiple physical antenna elements within the access point to send and receive signals, creating an optimal delivery ‘beam’.
This combination of MU-MIMO and Smart Antenna technology enables AirEngine access points to deliver superior signal strength while achieving coverage distances 20 percent greater than other devices. They also offer the lowest latency in the industry and zero packet loss when roaming, and the ability to set prioritisation for specific users, or more than 6000 different application types.
According to Dell’Oro Group, the need for higher-performance and reduced management overheads will fuel significant interest in Wi-Fi 6 technology in 2020, especially with vendors such as Huawei offering devices with rich features at prices comparable to Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 4 products.
“We are seeing Wi-Fi 6 beginning to ramp up significantly as the market moves from early adopters of new technology to the mass-market in 2020.”
Huawei’s AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 product line-up already has the largest global market share outside of the US, according to Dell’Oro’s Wi-Fi 6 market share statistics report from 2019, and has won recognition from customers and channel partners through upgrades and exclusive technologies such as smart antennas, lossless roaming, and smart application acceleration.
Huawei’s AirEngine range of access points have been specifically designed to meet the challenges of current and future wireless network users, helping organisations ensure they deliver seamless wireless connectivity to support a transformation to a digital future.