Why organisations must adopt Wi-Fi 6 now.

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Organisations have had to undergo a tremendous digital evolution in a short number of years — some quickly, others with greater reluctance. However, the past three years in particular have shown that the pace of change required for everyone has gone into hyperspeed.

No one could have foreseen the global and granular changes to everyday life brought on by the pandemic. Even two-and- a-bit years on, it is still difficult to correctly predict the longer- term impact that it will have on everyone’s life and work.

In early 2020, only around 2% of employees worked remotely. Unsurprisingly, that number ballooned in March 2020 when lockdown was initiated in the UK. In April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment did some work at home. Since then, the proportion of employees hybrid working has steadied. Per the ONS, in February 2022, 84% of workers who had to work from home due to the pandemic said they planned to carry out a mix of hybrid work going forward.

This pivot was only possible due to organisations dramatically adjusting their own infrastructure to meet these new working demands. One of the most important parts was implanting a successful wireless technology solution.

Wifi’s Wild West

The importance of wireless technology goes beyond just enabling remote work In no uncertain terms, businesses that better adopt wireless capabilities create a significant competitive advantage for themselves. It allows them to not only innovate but increase their agility.

Wireless technology have evolved to affect not just how one works, but how one experiences everyday ventures, including shopping, consuming film and television, and spending time with loved ones both near and far. With this increased reliance on wireless technology comes a greater expectation for it to work.

The faster it becomes, the more people expect it to constantly work and the quicker they become frustrated if that is not the case. Add in the vast number of existing devices and the ever-growing amount of bandwidth being consumed, and it makes the need for strong wireless technology even greater.

Evolving The Wireless Network

Wi-Fi 6 is the next step in ensuring a reality of high-performing and secure wireless technology. But what exactly is it, and what does it do differently? Wi-Fi 6, known formally as 802.11ax, is the successor to 802.11ac Wave 2, or Wi-Fi 5. It is a future-facing upgrade that is designed with the next few years in mind. It ensures that one’s internet speed doesn’t massively slow down in the future, keeping connections faster and more efficient.

It is designed for IoT and complex environments that constantly face the challenge of being simultaneously both secure and open. For example, a university would need to have easy access enabled for students requiring various resources, while the administrative team would need to ensure records are safe and personal information is properly secured. Simply put, larger congregations of people all connecting to a system at the same time require a far stronger wireless technology. That is why the primary goal of Wi-Fi 6 is to enhance throughput (the amount of material or items passing through a system or process) in such environments.

There are, of course, additional benefits to this, such as improving performance and security. The OFDMA’s multi-user support makes Wi-Fi 6 access points more efficient, resulting in lower latency. Additionally, Wi-Fi 6 uses WPA3, providing stronger general encryption and advancing security features to enable better authentication. Wi-Fi 6 sees less interference and more harmonious service in complex environments, while Target Wake Time (TWT) allows devices to determine how little or often to wake to receive/send data with the goal of improving overall battery life. Lastly, Wi-Fi 6’s MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) supports multiple users within a single network environment. Multiple users are then able to upload and download data simultaneously, reducing wait time while keeping network speed at the highest level. While each element on its own is beneficial, when combined they make an enormous difference to an organisation’s wireless network.

Securing The Network

Yet this set of benefits brings a greater point to light. A strong wireless network is no longer “nice to have,” it is a necessity for modern businesses. This need lies primarily with the cybersecurity implications associated with the arrival of Wi-Fi 6: As networks grow, so does the attack surface. This can be mitigated, however, by embracing a Wi-Fi 6 wireless security product line. These provide always-on, always- secured connectivity for these newer complex, multi-device environments.

Embracing a product line of this nature will help enable organisations to automatically secure wireless traffic, simplifying connectivity while boosting performance. From threat detection and removal to advanced cyberattack prevention and reduced downtime, implementing a secure product line to Wi-Fi 6 addresses a wide variety of business needs.

While businesses and future thinkers look ahead to the introduction of Wi-Fi 7, they must not get ahead of themselves. The threat landscape evolves at a rapid pace, and a direct emphasis must be placed on extending the performance and life of wireless networks.

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David Stansfield

Product Marketing Manager SonicWall