Wi-Fi 6 uses the latest generation of IEEE wireless LAN standards: 802.11ax, and the Wi-Fi Alliance calls the new standard Wi-Fi 6 for easy reference (Wi-Fi 5 is 802.11ac). That means the Wi-Fi 6 technologies are standard and interoperate easily with previous Wi-Fi versions.
One of the goals of Wi-Fi 6 was to have better user experience and increase throughput by a factor of 4 or more, to individual network clients. The 802.11ax standard was expected to improve Wi-Fi performance in dense environments with high numbers of users, like public venues, by using the available spectrum more efficiently, managing interference, and making enhancements to protocols such as Medium Access Control (MAC). Also the idea was to start using OFDMA, a standard that was already used in LTE and earlier Wi-Fi standards. This would eventually help to pack more data into the same air space.
One of the major use cases of Wi-Fi 6 is in the dense environments where there is a large number of users e.g. outdoor venues like stadiums, shopping malls, and airports, or indoor places like auditoriums or classrooms. Wi-Fi 6 becomes really useful where the number of clients are engaged in bandwidth-intensive applications or latency-sensitive applications. Not only the throughput increases, but also the technological advances in Wi-Fi 6 help to deliver superior user experiences for application performance whether it is on-demand learning or AR/VR applications. IOT applications will get an extra uplift using Wi-Fi 6 given the features like Target Wait Time (TWT) that helps to reduce the power consumption and conserve battery life.
As chairman of the 802.11ax standard working group, Huawei’s Dr. Osama Aboul-Magd was instrumental in developing the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. Recently, Huawei’s Osama was interviewed (link of the video) for the latest Wi-Fi standard and its implications and various use cases relevant to the new standard. He discussed why there is a change of name and why customers should start thinking about Wi-Fi 6 now if they have not been planning for it already.
As per Osama, companies like Huawei have played a key role in the development of the Wi-Fi 6 standard and protocol. In addition to the supporting the chair position, Huawei delegates provided almost 25 percent of the contributions submitted to the technical group. Most of these submissions were adopted in the standard document. Huawei has been one of the early adopters for Wi-Fi 6 by releasing its prototype as early as 2014 and rolling out its AP way back in 2017.
As for adoption, now is the good time to start planning for the Wi-Fi 6. By looking at your digital transformation strategy and how it is going to impact IT infrastructure changes, CIOs and IT managers need to start thinking of the Wi-Fi 6 upgrades in the future for smoother migration. Many of the hardware manufacturers and chip vendors have already come out with chips for Wi-Fi 6 and ensuring the interoperability among them. 2019 is the year of adoption for Wi-Fi 6 as many organizations start evaluating their long term Wi-Fi strategy in the wake of new challenges from digitization.