If you’ve asked or pondered the question, Which is better, 5G or Wi-Fi 6?, here’s your answer—both. As is customary with any new technology, they’re both touted as faster, which in this case is no exaggeration. Speeds for 5G are supposed to be over ten times (10x) that of 4G, or around 1 Gbps, and latency will be greatly reduced. Both are critically needed enhancements in our IoT world. But, because upgrading wireless towers can’t be done at once, 5G won’t be fully deployed until 2022, even though it’s offered by the top 4 U.S. carriers in select markets (iPhones won’t support it until 2020).
Yes, 5G will be great, but what about those times when you’re sitting at home with a laptop balanced on your lap. You’ve entered the Wi-Fi zone. Sure, you can turn your phone into a Mobile Hotspot, but once those glorious unlimited data plans went the way of the TV antenna, this option became connectivity’s last resort. If you’re continually disappointed with Wi-Fi and think utilizing 5G via a Hotspot will be worth the risk of data overage fees, you’ll be happy to learn that Wi-Fi 6 promises to provide speeds that will rival 5G. But, don’t think of them as competitors, but as collaborators in connectivity. 5G for the great outdoors, Wi-Fi 6 for the air-conditioned indoors.
When can I start enjoying Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 (technically, 802.11ax) will be available once the Wi-Fi Alliance, which is comprised of a worldwide network of Wi-Fi companies, has given the technology its internationally-recognized seal of approval. The approvals will begin in 3rd quarter, 2019—yes, we’re now in it—with widespread completion in the 1st half of 2020. In addition to faster speeds, Wi-Fi 6 will provide Increased capacity, performance in environments with many connected devices, and improved power efficiency.
“What will depend on how well 5G and Wi-Fi 6 work together is the interoperability between the two,” said Greg Clark, GDT’s Director of Technical Sales. “When a phone switches from one to the other, the handoff needs to be seamless, and without affecting performance. And Cisco’s OpenRoaming will do just that.”
Longtime GDT partner Cisco is ahead of the Wi-Fi 6 curve, especially as it relates to interoperability and handoffs between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. Through Cisco OpenRoaming, which is achieved through industry partner collaborators, Cisco will securely bridge devices and automatically connect them between technologies. They successfully beta-tested OpenRoaming at the Mobile World Congress 2019 with Samsung devices.
Cisco’s Wi-Fi 6 Solutions
Cisco’s Wi-Fi 6 solutions all start with its Catalyst 9100 Access Points, which are currently available. They provide integrated security, resiliency, operational flexibility and enhanced network intelligence. They extend Cisco’s intent-based network and can scale to the ever-increasing demands of IoT. Also, they fully support the latest innovations and technologies, and are perfect for organizations of all sizes.
In addition to their Catalyst 9100-series access points, Cisco’s Wi-Fi 6 solution set includes Catalyst 9800-series wireless controllers for managing multiple access points, and 2 dual-band, cloud-managed Meraki access points (MR45 and MR55), which utilize the Meraki Enterprise Cloud-based controller.
The Catalyst 9800 controllers come in 3 flavors—the 9800-04 for small- to medium-sized enterprises, the 9800-80 for larger campuses and service providers, and the 9800-CL for deployment in the public or private cloud. Also, they have the Catalyst 9300, which is 9800 controller software embedded on a Catalyst 9000 switch—perfect for those distributed branches and small campuses that are Cisco SD-Access-enabled.
One big, happy family of connectivity
There’s another family member to include in discussions about 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and Cisco’s portfolio of offerings to help customers enjoy the vast array of benefits both will deliver—GDT. GDT is a Cisco Gold Partner, and its Mobility Solutions practice is comprised of experienced solutions architects and engineers who have implemented mobility solutions for some of the largest organizations in the world. They can be reached at Mobility_Team@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.