Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

WBA releases guidelines for next-generation wifi

Steve Rogerson
July 11, 2019
In preparation for the impending release of next-generation wifi technology later this year, the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) this week published a white paper that provides deployment guidelines including IoT applications for a number of possible scenarios using WiFi 6 technology.
With the white paper release, operators, enterprises and cities now have tools to embrace and deploy WiFi 6 when it’s released later this year.
Globally, dependence on wifi continues to grow exponentially, driven by a number of factors:

  • The number of wifi devices in the world – nine billion – now outnumbers the 7.6 billion people on the planet.
  • Global enterprises this year will generate more than 33 billion exabytes of IP traffic. By 2022, that number will grow to more than 63 billion exabytes of IP traffic, a compound annual growth rate of 23 per cent.
  • Wifi is the primary access technology in most broadband households, with 76 per cent of US households using wifi as the primary broadband connection.
As this newest white paper from WBA illustrates, savvy deployment of WiFi 6 can mitigate some of the growing pains that wifi is experiencing, while ensuring that operators, enterprises and vendors meet important service-level agreements (SLAs). As such, the work proposes guidelines to ensure SLAs around bandwidth, throughput, latency, traffic prioritisation and numerous other factors.
The paper also provides guidelines for RF planning and design, with consideration given to factors such as band steering, Mu-Mimo and adjusting for high-density deployments that demand increased capacity. Additionally, the release addresses ways that WiFi 6 deployments can provide seamless mobility and backwards compatibility with previous wifi technology.
“Since its inception 20 years ago, wifi has become a fundamental expectation for consumers and enterprises alike,” said Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the WBA. “This latest white paper comes at a crucial time; not only is global demand for wifi continuing unabated, but operators worldwide are ramping up 5G networks, and governmental authorities around the world are preparing to open 6GHz spectrum to wifi traffic. This announcement illustrates the dedication of the WBA and its member companies to providing timely, expert direction to ensure that wifi deployments successfully accommodate all of these global factors.”
To that end, the paper provides a number of deployment scenarios for WiFi 6, including public venues, stadiums, residential and multi-dwelling units, the IoT, and enterprise WLANs.
“Enterprises like hotels, travel hubs and retail can use WiFi 6 to build carrier-grade infrastructure that will complement 5G,” said Chris Bruce, managing director of GlobalReach Technology and board member of the WBA. “Deploying WiFi 6 alongside Hotspot 2.0/NGH allows venue owners to control their entire user experience. This next generation of wifi will also allow these venues to negotiate mobile data offload access to their infrastructure on equal terms with cellular operators."
The release was developed with operator representatives from Boingo Wireless, BT and Charter Communications, as well as vendor representatives from Broadcom, Cisco and CommScope.
“Technologies like WiFi 6 and Passpoint are steering unlicensed networks into the 5G era, meeting high performance expectations across speed, latency, reliability, security and traffic management,” said Derek Peterson, CTO at Boingo Wireless and co-chair of the WBA. “To realise digital transformations for both people and things, we’ll need wifi and its ability to carry the bulk of data traffic with unparalleled efficiencies.”
Youngseok Oh, manager at SK Telecom, added: “Investment is driven by market opportunities, wifi-cellular aggregation, customer retention and new business opportunities, such as IoT. SK Telecom has been engaging in WiFi 6 services that provide reliable, predictable services to customers anytime and anywhere, while also delivering new capabilities and business models.”
And Finbarr Coghlan, CTO of Accuris Networks, said: “As we work with mobile and broadband operators around the world, the need for high-capacity wifi continues to be a major driver. WiFi 6 addresses a number of critical requirements being driven by user experience and service delivery demands, including connecting to more devices simultaneously, interference management and reduced power consumption, which dramatically improves battery life for mobile and IoT devices. Accuris is excited to work with our wifi equipment partners to realise these benefits to further improve enterprise and IoT applications over wifi.”