To Upgrade (or Not) to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) in the Enterprise?
Last Post: April 30, 2021:
I'm a freelance tech writer currently working on a buyers guide to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) for the enterprise environment.
Any one have thoughts on upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 in the enterprise?
Why upgrade now? Or why not?
What features of Wi-Fi 6 make it a good or bad choice?
What factors as a Wi-Fi pro would you consider?
Thanks for any feedback!
Your question specifically relates to Enterprise installations, but as a point of interest, one fact that may interest some users is that /ax networks with only one user actually run slower than a single user on an /ac, and in some cases, an /n network.
The extra effort required for /ax to add its additional (temporal) multiplexing scheme, adds substantial new processing requirements and overhead in the "radios". It has already been shown that the major cost in upgrades to client device "radios" has been with the additional memory and CPU power required to support the higher /ac rates.
Supporting /ax may exceed the utility of some less expensive handheld devices.
It can easily be demonstrated that /ax is superior in providing a more uniform performance in environments with hundreds or thousands of users, as in an extremely large classroom, or sports venue. However, the cost of all the /ax compliant client devices is greatly increased, for the collective pocketbooks of the individual users.
For many years, the Wi-Fi networks in most large warehouses were not upgraded from really slow two Mbps, or lower, radios even though much higher speeds (54 Mbps) were available. It was not until the total cost of the older hardware greatly exceeded the price of newer gear that management upgraded their installations.
Likewise, companies that have recently expended a considerable sum of money upgrading from /n to /ac networks may see no advantage to upgrading again. Not everyone believes the marketing hype.
Many IoT devices, like handheld scanners and printers simply do not not need rates higher than a few Mbps to function well. And in several circumstances, increased range is more handy than a higher data rate.
Thank you all for your feedback!
Say a company does decide to implement Wi-Fi 6 (like in a new building), do you have any feedback along these lines?
- Learning curve going from Wi-Fi 5 to 6
- Features to look for in the APs
- Wired Infrastructure Considerations
- Use Consultants or Do In-House
Nothing really new or earth shattering. Same as any upgrade since the introduction of 802.11n dual-band AP's.
Use an experienced site-survey team, and perform a post-installation validation.
Make sure your network backbone can handle the expected throughput , and power requirements, BEFORE you invest in cabling, and make sure your cabling team has the correct gear to certify the cables and drops. Invest in critical redundancy if required..
Verify that the AP control dashboards will provide sufficient real-time information to understand the networks true behavior.
Have your Wireless Admins attend advanced training from the AP dashboard/controller providers.
Make sure management has realistic expectations regarding system performance.