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Future of Wi-Fi: Predicting without a Crystal Ball

Posted on by Extreme


Written by: Mike Leibovitz

Solving for tomorrow, today, is no simple task. There is no way to know what tomorrow will bring and there’s no crystal ball to give you the answer. The mobile world that fuels our personal and professional lives continues to grow exponentially. The devices we hold are filled with functionality and apps we devour with an endless appetite. We see more devices and more applications that lead to more consumption of bandwidth day after day. According to the Wi-Fi alliance over 70% of all forms of wireless traffic traverses Wi-Fi as the access medium.

Compounding the growth in terms of mobile device and application use is the growth in our expectations. Every time we have a good mobile experience our expectation grows. We believe that the experience we have in our homes should be easily replicated everywhere we go: coffee shops, schools, hotels, hospitals, stadiums and of-course our workplace. We are compelled to believe that Wi-Fi should be simple, fast and smart to support our mobile lives “on-demand”. We expect Wi-Fi will be as simple as changing a channel on TV to find something to watch.

We bring our device of choice, and our personal expectation that it will work. IT has struggled for the past few years to address the consumerization of IT and specifically solve for BYOD. Yet, today, there is a new looming threat well beyond the scope of consumerized BYOD destined to dominate our technology landscape. Today we prepare for The Internet of Things (IoT).

The Internet of Things is well described in saying “things” as it’s about as accurate as you can get due to the enormous variation of devices (things) that will exist. Top of mind, for most, are the wearables we hear about: glasses, watches, and even clothing. Beyond the wearable products, IoT will include thermostats, TVs, clocks, projectors, medical equipment, sensors, cars, security devices, and cameras to name but a few. The common denominator for most of these devices, however, will be their use of Wi-Fi for connectivity and the proliferation that will occur everywhere.

The IoT has potential to significantly impact networks and take them to their breaking point. Different numbers range IoT projections from 10’s of Billions to 100’s of Billions of things in the next 5-10 years. No matter who’s number you are compelled to believe you can’t disagree that IoT will step BYOD into another dimension of size and scope in the not too distant future.

Let’s recap – growing expectations of people, growing number of mobile devices, growing use of mobile applications, Internet of Things looming and unprecedented use of Wi-Fi that has to support it all. Something has to give, right?

The days of providing coverage is no longer an acceptable methodology for planning and implementing Wi-Fi. Capacity is what will be required to carry you successfully into the future no matter what type of business you are in. Consider the classic rate vs. range discussion where some vendors tout a capability to transmit higher data rates at great distances from a given access point (AP). In tomorrow’s world this capability means very little. Between that AP and the device 200 feet away will be many, many more Wi-Fi devices demanding access for airtime. Transmitting RF signals to a device far away, in a coverage model, is an antiquated necessity that will be lost to time.

Consider the crystal ball again and the future starts to become clear. Wi-Fi that can scale to support more density and more performance becomes THE most critical factor to assure your success as growth and proliferation finds its way into your network.

IdentiFi Wireless from Extreme Networks scales beyond the crowd. IdentiFi is proven in the most challenging of Wi-Fi environments. Supporting more users, devices and applications in hyper-dense venues with more than 70,000 people validates an innate capability to do more with less. Providing robust connectivity can be achieved with fewer APs, but requires APs that can handle more load with flexible operation to support “what you don’t know” that soon will occupy your digital airspace.

We, at Extreme Networks, strive to deliver excellent mobile experiences to users everywhere through simple, fast and smart Wi-Fi solutions purposely built to meet the increasing demands of tomorrow’s world.

Click here to learn more about IdentiFi Wireless solutions.

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