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Wi-Fi is trading in its ‘must-have’ status for ‘business-critical’

Mist Co-Founder: “Wi-Fi is entering into the business-critical phase”

In June of last year, Mist, a Juniper company, made major strides with their cloud-managed Wi-Fi 6 access points, and now that more devices are Wi-Fi 6 are in-market, the company says that new use cases are emerging and early adopters of Wi-Fi 6 are finding that wireless technology in becoming increasingly critical in the business and enterprise space.

Bob Friday, CTO and co-founder at Mist, told RCR Wireless News that in the early days of Wi-Fi, it was viewed as a “nice-to-have,” and then of course, eventually became a “must-have” amenity from anywhere to inside the home, to cafes, to manufacturing plants and enterprises.

“Now,” continued Friday, “we are entering into the “business-critical phase.”

In other words, Wi-Fi was up until very recently considered a necessity, but is now become much more than that.

“People are starting to put business critical things on top of these wireless networks,” Friday explained. “This tends to be happening a lot in the business to consumer enterprise space. They’re putting consumer experiences on top of the networks.”

He added that this trend is particularly notable in fields were the consumer is a critical business element, such as retail and healthcare facilities.

Similarly, Friday discussed what he referred to as the “location trend,” or the push to bring connectivity to more locations, particularly indoors.

As Wi-Fi connectivity continues to evolve, the question, Friday said, becomes whether this level of connectivity for indoor locations will also go from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have.”

The conversation around indoor connection brought us, unsurprisingly, to the topic of COVID-19 and how networks are handling the increase in traffic due to more people working and studying from home.

“They have data that shows that with shelter in place, the Wi-Fi traffic at home has gone up dramatically,” said Friday, confirming most people’s suspicions. “They’ve definitely seen that pattern. It will be interesting to see that if after this, will we maintain some of this behavior now that people are being forced to work from home. Is some of that going to stick long term? Are we going to see the work from home become a higher percentage of our workforce?”

Friday thinks that the answer is yes, suggesting that whatever service provider are doing to address this increase in traffic might become a more permanent solution that initially intended.

“We’re seeing an uptick in service providers beefing up their networks right now. I think it’s clear, especially from the remote workers side, they’re starting to put more bandwidth in place to handle the traffic, specifically the video traffic as more people turn to Zoom and other services to connect with coworkers and friends,” he said.


Catherine Sbeglia Nin
Catherine Sbeglia Nin
Catherine is the Managing Editor for RCR Wireless News and Enterprise IoT Insights, where she covers topics such as Wi-Fi, network infrastructure and edge computing. She also hosts Arden Media's podcast Well, technically... After studying English and Film & Media Studies at The University of Rochester, she moved to Madison, WI. Having already lived on both coasts, she thought she’d give the middle a try. So far, she likes it very much.

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