Prepare Your Business for Wi-Fi 6
Decide if your enterprise should upgrade to Wi-Fi 6. Work through 5 questions to prepare for the new Wi-Fi standard. Look at the advantages of Wi-Fi 6.
The next generation of Wi-Fi is on the horizon. Dubbed Wi-Fi 6, the new standard brings increased speed and more support for high-density networks. In particular, Wi-Fi 6 boasts a 37% faster data rate for single users and can handle four times the throughput per user in dense environments.
Is your enterprise ready to reap these advantages? To assess whether or not you should take the leap, take some time to work through these five questions.
1. Does Your Enterprise Need Speed?
With a Wi-Fi 6 access point (AP), you can get a 2.5 Gbps or a 5 Gbps LAN connection. These speeds are ideal for enterprises that use a lot of high-throughput applications or have a high-density of users like Dickies Arena or Herman Clark Stadium in Fort Worth. However, if you just need to support minimal Wi-Fi usage on employee smartphones and laptops, you may not need the upgrade. Additionally, if your network caps its speeds at a gigabit, you won’t be able to take advantage of the full speeds of Wi-Fi 6 APs.
2. What Do You Need to Prepare Your Wired Network?
To prepare your wired network, you can work through these steps:
- Make sure your switches can handle the Wi-Fi 6 data rates. Check switches between the APs and the routers as well as any other switches along your traffic paths.
- Look at your Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) standards or external injectors and make sure they can work with your Wi-Fi 6 APs. Ideally, you should upgrade to the PoE+ or PoE++ standard. Although some Wi-Fi 6 APs can support legacy PoE standards, that can limit your speeds to 1Gbps.
- Upgrade your cabling between the APs, the routers, and all intermediary connections. To support speeds over 1 Gbps, you need at least Cat6, but to meet your long-term needs, you should go with Cat6a, Cat7, Cat7a, or Cat8.
- Replace routers as needed to support extra speed.
3. Where Are You Going to Place Your APs?
To make the most of your upgrade, don’t necessarily put your Wi-Fi APs in the same places you have your existing APs. Although the new APs are similar, there are differences especially related to density, and you should take these nuances into account when choosing your placement and configuration settings.
To ensure you choose the positions that offer the best coverage and performance, you may want to work with a professional. They can utilize analyzer and heat mapping software to help you find the optimal spots. The wrong placement can reduce Wi-Fi quality and cost your enterprise in the long run.
4. Are Your Devices Ready?
Devices with older Wi-Fi standards can connect to Wi-Fi 6 APs, but they cannot take advantage of all the improvements. You may want to upgrade your devices, invest in PCIe adapter cards for desktop computers, or put M.2/NGFF Wi-Fi 6 adapters in laptops. Alternatively, you may want to wait until you upgrade devices on your regular schedule and make the leap to Wi-Fi 6 at that time.
5. Does Wi-Fi 6 Have the Features You Want Yet?
The Wi-Fi 6 features are going to be rolled out in phases. If you followed the 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) upgrade, you might have noticed a similar pattern. At first, devices connected to Wi-Fi 6 can only send and receive up to four spatial streams at the same time, but eventually, that number will increase to eight.
Similarly, in the early days of Wi-Fi 6, the multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) options are only available on the AP-to-client downlink. Still, over time, the MU-MIMO will also be available on the AP-to-client uplink. One feature that is available right away is the orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) feature, which works in both directions. The OFDMA lets multiple devices with varying bandwidth requirements connect to the Wi-Fi 6 AP simultaneously.
Need more guidance to decide if your enterprise should upgrade to Wi-Fi 6? Want help implementing this new Wi-Fi standard? Then, contact us today. At Corptek, we provide quality IT services in Fort Worth, TX, and the surrounding area.