The game-changing wireless technologies you need to know
As the UK ramps up its commitment to 5G and full-fibre broadband, is business overlooking other wireless technologies that have the potential to be true game-changers? Both Wi-Fi 6 and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) are flying under the radar but have the potential to be truly disruptive - at least short term.
Better shared experience
Wi-Fi 6 addresses one of the most frustrating broadband issues - slow performance. By using orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), each device can effectively be given its own channel at the full network speed. So while the overall speed boost of 802.11 ax is only around 40%, the impact on individual device performance - especially when coupled with multiple input, multiple output - is significant.
It's not just speed that benefits. The standard 5GHz frequency that is used for its superior quality can't penetrate solid objects as effectively as the new 2.4 GHz standard. A new feature, beamforming, will allow routers to detect the location of a device requesting data and transmit a localised data stream directly to it. Another new feature, Wake on Wireless LAN, allows devices to connect only when they need to thus significantly increasing battery life. This technology also allows a greater IoT population to connect to a single access point creating greater opportunities to exploit that technology.
New use case scenarios
Wi-Fi 6 uses the new Passpoint protocol which requires a single authentication to one access point, while the new standard makes use of WPA3 security for stronger cryptographic protection for enterprise networks.
The overall performance boost will free network connections from the tethers of hardwiring, allowing a more sophisticated use of sensors and robots. PC users will experience faster and more reliable data transfers from the cloud. And remote workers will enjoy a seamless, jitter-free experience when connecting to the latest Teams meeting. Users who are WFH will be able to work from anywhere without worrying about their signal dropping out.
Enabling localised 5G networks
If the words 'Citizens Broadband' conjure up images of convoys and rubber ducks, think again. The new CBRS standard covers a spectrum in the 3550-3700 MHz range that was recently cleared for public use in the US. Ofcom is already indicating its intention to make the service available in the UK.
But what exactly is CBRS? Intended for use in geographically bounded areas like sports arenas and factories, it reaches further and faster than Wi-Fi, making its licensed use ideal for enterprise. Better yet, CBRS can deliver 4G and 5G services, opening up the possibility of businesses creating their own private 5G networks without involving a third party carrier.
Because CBRS can carry more frequencies and doesn't slow down under the weight of multiple connections, it has obvious uses for organisations that don't want to have to invest in multiple Wi-Fi points. CBRS provides more frequencies and thus more accurate and targeted delivery.
Enhancing business collaboration
Wi-Fi 6 delivers fast connections for organisations that need to satisfy remote workers or to connect across multiple sites while delivering a premium experience. The most demanding bandwidth applications include remote site surveys and video conferencing can be undertaken with faster speeds and stronger, more stable and reliable connections. While the competition is looking to 5G, should you be investing in Wi-Fi 6?