If you pay attention to the technology press, you might have seen an increasing number of mentions of a new Wi-Fi standard -- Wi-Fi 6 -- as 2018 draws to a close. Wi-Fi 6 is a major advance over previous standards, and can make your network more productive while also giving you the opportunity to reduce your commercial real estate occupancy costs.
For most users, the primary benefit of Wi-Fi 6 is that it runs much more quickly. The 801.11ac standard (now referred to as Wi-Fi 5) has a theoretical maximum speed of 1.3 gigabits per second. Wi-Fi 6 supports transfers that are almost 4 times faster in the band that is likely to get used in an open floor plan office. In laboratory settings, speeds of 10 gigabits per second have been achieved even though the system is still in its infancy, as of the last part of 2018.
While network speed isn't always the main constraint on business Wi-Fi networks, additional bandwidth will be important for the future. As technologies like video conferencing become more prevalent and as more and more workers ditch laptops with wired connections for mobile devices, the additional speed -- which translates into additional bandwidth for each user -- will help you stay ahead of these concerns.
Better Capacity and Efficiency
In many commercial real estate settings, the biggest challenge with Wi-Fi is that it doesn't always support enough connections. When you think about an open floor plan office with scores of people connecting to a single access point with multiple devices, you can see how the limited number of channels available inside a Wi-Fi connection can become problematic. Throw in devices connecting over the Internet of Things (IoT), and the network becomes even more clogged.
Wi-Fi 6 fixes many of these limitations. It expands the MU-MIMO technology present in earlier versions of Wi-Fi, allowing more people to transmit data at the same time. In addition, the new standard manages connections to prevent users from having their devices tie up the network as they fight for a chance to send or receive data. Wi-Fi 6 also offers better handling of connections at different speeds, allowing everyone to move at the fastest speed possible without letting an old or poorly connected device slow down the rest of the network.
Finally, Wi-Fi 6 offers efficiency savings. Better use of radio frequencies means that radios consume less power on both the access point and device end. For users on mobile devices, this can translate to longer battery life.
Wi-Fi 6 in Commercial Real Estate
As Wi-Fi 6 technology deploys (likely at full scale in 2019), upgrading the access points throughout your commercial real estate portfolio should be a consideration. While newer devices that support Wi-Fi 6 can take full advantage of the new system, it can improve performance with older devices as well. Better wireless bandwidth and capacity could even allow you to run less Ethernet wire, lowering future build out costs.
Here are a few other articles to check out: