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Online All the Time: Why Your Business Needs to Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6

Today’s consumers demand Wi-Fi everywhere they go. That means businesses must be prepared to provide high-speed, reliable Wi-Fi in public spaces. And consumers aren’t merely using their cellphones and tablets to check their email. A diner may stream a movie while they eat at a restaurant, while a shopper may watch an influencer’s video while browsing through clothing at an apparel store. Businesses have to account for both dense activity and high bandwidth consumption when providing Wi-Fi to their prospective customers.

Moreover, businesses need Wi-Fi access to power their daily operations. With hybrid remote work becoming more common, business IT leaders must provide reliable access not only to headquarters but also satellite locations and, to strengthen corporate cybersecurity, remote locations as well. Even onsite Wi-Fi installations can be a major challenge as well, when Wi-Fi access must be uniform despite variations in operating conditions in different parts of a building.

Consider a mixed-use building with a basement warehouse, retail spaces – some equipped with kitchens, and office space on the upper levels. Temperature variations, wall density, and outdated cabling may impede your Wi-Fi signal strength and speed. Or take a cruise line, where, despite the sites, passengers will expect high-speed, reliable Internet access, whether above or below deck. On the high seas, operating conditions can vary greatly, but passenger and operator demand for online access will not.

How Wi-Fi 6 Helps Businesses Improve Online Access

The latest Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6, helps IT admins address many of these issues as it provides higher throughput and speed, lower latency, and greater range than Wi-Fi 5. Compared to its predecessor, Wi-Fi 6 offers speeds up to 40 percent higher by encoding data more efficiently. Whether using GHz or 2.4 GHz, Wi-Fi 6 users should see higher speeds and experience significantly less interference.

The new standard also helps IT admins improve the efficiency of their power consumption. Wi-Fi 6 access points can tell devices when to activate their Wi-Fi radios to receive transmissions and when they can go to sleep mode, greatly conserving each device’s battery life. When you consider IoT technologies that collect considerable amounts of data, the Wi-Fi 6 standard power consumption reduction can be significant indeed.

Further, Wi-Fi 6 helps IT admins deal with congestion using multiple new technologies. One such technology, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (or OFDMA for short), allows each Wi-Fi 6 access point to divide each wireless channel into various subchannels tailored to carry data to different devices. Further, improved MIMO (Multiple In/Multiple Out) technologies allows each access point to not only speak to multiple devices simultaneously. Unlike its predecessor, Wi-Fi 6 access points allow multiple devices to respond to the access point simultaneously as well.

In cases where two access points in close proximity are transmitting on the same channel, an access point typically waits for a clear signal before transmission. Two Wi-Fi 6 access points can be configured to have different Basic Service Set (BSS) colors, enabling an access point to bypass its normal waiting protocol if another access point with a different BSS color broadcasting on the same channel is sending or receiving a weak signal. Doing so can help improve performance in high-traffic areas as well.

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E: What’s the Difference?

You may have also heard about Wi-Fi 6E, which is incredibly similar to the Wi-Fi 6 standard. The one big difference is that 6E-enabled devices can now tap into the 6GHz range, which was previously prohibited under FCC rules. This new standard offers wider channels and extremely low latency (less than 1ms), as well as minimizes interference, yielding much higher capacity. And it is much, much faster.

Depending on your business needs, the 6E standard may be what’s required. Businesses with significant numbers of remote employees connecting via videoconference may benefit, as may those which must offer consumers and employees alike the network resources for high bandwidth activities like streaming and using augmented reality applications. Many South Florida businesses, such as healthcare providers, resorts and casinos, aviation and aerospace companies, and logistics firms, among others, may want to consider making the switch to 6E rather than 6.

Upgrading to the Wi-Fi 6 Standard

Increasingly, new devices are equipped to support Wi-Fi 6. However, many businesses may still have older access points and devices in use that don’t. Upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 may seem daunting, but there are several things to consider when doing so that can make the process manageable and cost-effective.

The first is that prices for Wi-Fi 6 access points and enabled devices are coming down, which should be of great comfort to your senior leadership and finance department. But perhaps just as importantly, you don’t necessarily need to rush out and replace all of your devices. Wi-Fi 6 access points can ensure access for Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices, while simultaneously connecting with Wi-Fi 5 enabled devices according to that standard. Depending on your Wi-Fi needs, after purchasing the necessary Wi-Fi 6 access points, you might gradually phase in Wi-Fi 6 devices over time as you naturally retire older Wi-Fi 5 devices.

No matter what your Wi-Fi needs are, it’s helpful to have a trusted service provider to help you understand the key improvements of Wi-Fi 6, the differences between 6 and 6E, and how your business’ bottom line can benefit from upgrading to either. Moreover, a third-party evaluation of existing network operations can often provide valuable insight and perspective on not just how such an IT upgrade can improve revenue and performance, but also how it may improve cybersecurity and reduce risk.

If you’re a South Florida company interested in how Wi-Fi 6 may help you grow your business, LAN Infotech can help. A top technology provider servicing companies throughout Fort Lauderdale and the greater South Florida area, LAN Infotech has the expertise your team needs to research, plan, and execute an effective Wi-Fi 6 deployment that helps you achieve your strategic business goals. We’ve worked with healthcare providers, law firms, nonprofits, and a range of other small and midsized businesses to help them provide high-speed, reliable and secure access, among other IT needs.

Whether you’re considering upgrading to Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, or need support with another technology-related challenge, contact us today and let us put our experience and expertise to work for you.

Special thanks to our friends at 4BIS.COM, a top Cincinnati IT services company for their help with this research.