By Jeffrey Schwartz
Few things are hyped more than the coming of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 when it comes to next-generation wireless networks. Nevertheless, both new wireless technologies must be part of any discussion with a client looking to deploy a new network or upgrade an existing one.
Neil Anderson is an expert on both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 and will share insights from his discussions with customers at next month’s Channel Partners Evolution in Washington, D.C. Anderson is director of the network solutions practice at World Wide Technology and his session, “Wi-Fi 6 and Your Customers,” Sept. 10, part of the 5G and Wi-Fi track presented with Light Reading and sponsored by Nextiva, will explain how to help customers understand what decisions they need to make.
In advance of next month’s conference, Anderson talked with Channel Partners about both some of the long-tail technical and business considerations and implications of these new technologies.
Channel Partners: What are you seeing right now with Wi-Fi 6? Quite a few vendors have rolled out new access points that support Wi-Fi 6 but it doesn’t appear there are many endpoints yet that support it. So what do you advise clients about whether they should deploy it knowing that they will see little benefit from it in the short term?
Neil Anderson: We see a couple of things. An awful lot of our customer base skipped over Wi-Fi 5 [aka 802.11 AC] and are running with their Wi-Fi 4 [802.11n] network. A lot of customers were skeptical of the AC value. They typically said, “You know, I just did a refresh, do I really need to do another one when what we have works pretty well?” But what we’re also seeing is that the way people are using the network, wireless has become the primary network. And for new deployments, most are building out more modern office spaces that don’t lend themselves to wired access. And most of the Wi-Fi 4 networks were never built for that type of usage.
|Hear from Anderson and dozens of other industry experts at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C. It’s not too late to register!|
CP: And Wi-Fi 6 is built for that type of usage?
NA: The trend we are hearing is, ‘If I’m going to refresh, I’m going to wait for Wi-Fi 6.” I believe we’re going to see a pretty big wave. And we’re starting to see some pretty big replacements of those older networks, with the newer networks, for sure. As that happens, you can’t necessarily just pull down the Wi-Fi 4 [access point] and put up a Wi-Fi 6 AP. Wi-Fi 6 is going to take a little bit of redesign of the network, which includes taking a fresh look at where your access points are.
CP: Do the Wi-Fi 6 APs need to be deployed differently?
NA: You’re going to probably need more of them just because of the way they the Wi-Fi 6 standard works. To get those theoretical speeds, or even close to them, you have to be closer to the access point. That’s just a fact. And a lot of those older networks our customers put out there, as kind of a network of convenience in …