The WBA highlights the importance of savvy Wi-Fi 6 deployment
Based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard, Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, was built in response to the ever-growing number of connected devices worldwide. Wi-Fi 6 was designed to improve speed, capacity, coverage and performance of connected devices, even in challenging environments like stadiums and transportation hubs, which struggle to provide adequate connection to thousands of devices simultaneously.
While the official release of the latest Wi-Fi iteration is not expected until later this year, a few companies have been getting an early start with the technology by launching commercial and industrial trials. Cisco, Boingo and the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) are among those already testing out the new technology.
Cisco and USGA Pebble Beach commercial trial
Last month, a partnership between Cisco and the United States Golf Association (USGA) sought to make Pebble Beach, the site of the U.S. Open Championship, the most connected course in the world. A massive sporting event is precisely what Wi-Fi 6 was made for. Cisco powered a robust Wi-Fi network throughout the grounds with 400 wireless access points.
The Cisco Vision IPTV display management system was also used to provide fans with onsite information and features, such as shot-tracking graphics to show live player performances on the driving range. Fans had the ability to map multiple players and see a range of shot stats.
After the event, the USGA said the network saw 25 total terabytes of data used during the championship, and that it saw more than 100,000 connections to the network, but did not specify if that number represents unique connections or contains multiple connections from the same devices.
In a prepared statement, Navin Singh, chief commercial officer of the USGA, said the trial “elevate[d] the fan experience.”
“We also learned a lot and recognize that mobile consumption demands are only going to continue to grow. We are excited to get to work on providing an even better experience in 2020 at the 120th U.S. Open at Winged Foot,” he added.
Boingo and John Wayne Airport commercial trial
According to Boingo Chief Technology Officer Derek Peterson, the Wi-Fi 6 commercial trial with John Wayne Airport announced in April was showing triple-digit speeds using a 20 megahertz channel.
Peterson added that while they are running additional tests and performing tweaks here and there, the airport “definitely” saw an improvement in speed and connectivity.
“One of the great things about Wi-Fi 6 is the channel sharing because it’s using OFDMA, which is basically the ability to share a channel more effectively like what cellular does today,” said Peterson. “That’s going to improve your experience in your dense locations in an airport where you have 400 people coming off an airplane trying to get connected.”
The trial included Cisco equipment and Samsung devices.
WBA and Mettis Aerospace industrial trial
Also in April, the WBA announced the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 Industrial Enterprise and IoT trial, as part of its ongoing Wi-Fi 6 program. The alliance is working with Mettis Aerospace, a designer and manufacturer of precision-forged, machined and sub-assembled components, to test several use cases on a Wi-Fi 6 network at its 27-acre facility.
The trial is intended to be the first of a series of global trials, and will enable the use of augmented reality, real-time monitoring of equipment and a host of other applications in an enterprise network environment designed to digitize Mettis’ production line.
While not an enormous sporting event or a highly-trafficked airport, the Mettis Aerospace facility has its own connectivity challenges. First, it covers a large geography. Second, industrial radio interference can disrupt signals.
Further, some applications require high bandwidth, others low latency and mission critical applications need clear prioritization for data, as well as security. These types of specifications are another area in which Wi-Fi 6 is well-positioned to support.
At the beginning of the month, the WBA released guidelines to assist operators, enterprises and cities with Wi-Fi 6 deployment as the technology unwaveringly gains momentum. The guidelines explain that global dependence on Wi-Fi continues to grow exponentially, and the number of Wi-Fi devices in the world — 9 billion — now outnumbers the 7.6 billion people on the planet.
Running Wi-Fi 6 trials may have been the right approach because, according to the WBA, savvy deployment of Wi-Fi 6 can mitigate some of the growing pains that Wi-Fi is experiencing, and ensure that important service-level agreements (SLAs) are being met, and what better way to prepare for the real deal than to test it out first?