Huawei Middle East managing director and vice president of Enterprise Business Group, Alaa Elshimy gives his take on the future of WLAN technology with the advent of Wi-Fi 6.
As the Middle East prepares for the introduction of 5G networks, it makes sense that communications standards across the board will be upped in order to keep pace with the increasing demand. Wi-Fi – a staple of everyday connectivity in homes and businesses alike – is one of the most exciting areas where this innovation is coming through.
Some of us will recall when Wi-Fi was first introduced to the world in 1997. Over the past 22 years, it has become an integral part of day to day life, something that we take for granted. It’s also something that we often criticise if it isn’t fast enough to keep up with our growing expectations for speed and reliability in our communications.
Naturally, 22 years is a long time for a technology to develop. Wi-Fi has seen many upgrades over the course of the past two decades, in sync with the world’s digital transformation journey. Now, at the precipice of the 5G era, it is about to experience its next evolution – Wi-Fi 6.
A transformation for user experience
With the need to contend with a growing number of connected devices, Wi-Fi has been due for an upgrade.
The High Efficiency WLAN Study Group recognised this back in 2013. It began to examine the different challenges Wi-Fi would need to contend with in order to keep up with the demands of user traffic. As a result of this, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as project 802.11ax) was initiated in May 2014. The project’s standard task group was actually led by Osama Aboul Magd, a network innovator at Huawei.
As has become standard across the board with communications technology, a major driving force for the next stage of Wi-Fi was providing a superior user experience. This is an essential consideration for businesses that are prioritising digital transformation – and in today’s world, digital transformation is a necessity if a company is to survive the 5G connected era and what lies beyond.
Wi-Fi is ultimately the first point of connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). With its larger capacity, it will be a driving force in ensuring the successful implementation of artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), cloud computing, and many other vast technology applications that define tomorrow’s business world.
In the next three to five years, technologies such as 4K/8K Ultra HD Video, IoT, VR, AR, and automatic guided vehicle (AGV) will be widely used in education, enterprise, and industrial automation. Wi-Fi 6 will meet future development requirements in terms of bandwidth, latency, connection quality, transmission efficiency, and terminal power consumption management. Based on the actual application scenarios of the customer. Digital enterprise will need to leverage Wi-Fi 6 technology to build a high-quality network with high bandwidth, low latency, and high reliability – all while ensuring it remains maintenance-free.
As the fastest WLAN technology to date, Wi-Fi 6 is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors. Solutions such as Huawei’s newly-introduced AirEngine are ready to make enterprise-class Wi-Fi products a reality, building on technical strengths originating from Huawei 5G smart antenna technology to achieve intelligent optimisation for better user experiences and service continuity. It also has the capacity to perform with excellent results in dense environments, supporting the connectivity needs of high numbers of users.
Think back to the last conference, concert, or major sports match you attended, or that time you were trying to stream a video in the shopping mall or watch an online lecture at university. You might remember how poorly local Wi-Fi performed under the stress of immense demand. Wi-Fi 6 will use available spectrum more efficiently, packing more data into the same air space to provide an enhanced experience for every connected user.
In short, Wi-Fi 6 is one thing that businesses cannot do without in the coming decade. It will be the linchpin of a successful enterprise in the era of 5G and IoT, in which customers of all kinds will expect a seamless experience across all touchpoints—enabled through the application of smart and connected solutions.