Wi-Fi 7 hasn’t yet been ratified, but the IEEE (the people who write the Wi-Fi standards) started working on Wi-Fi 7 in March 2019 and thanks to initial drafts, we do have an understanding of what Wi-Fi 7 could look like: faster, more adaptable, excelling in high density.
So what does Wi-Fi 7 look like?
Wi-Fi 7 is going to be faster than its predecessors. A new ultra-wide 320Mhz and 4096 QAM will both be supported as part of the standard, allowing more data to travel over the air. Theoretical figures are as high as 46.1Gbit/s; while real-world results will almost certainly fall short of this, it’s clear that Wi-Fi 7 will give us more bandwidth than ever before.
Latency is another big focus of Wi-Fi 7; VR/AR and other applications can have very demanding latency requirements, and Wi-Fi 7 will address this challenge with Multi-Link Operation, which allows two Wi-Fi channels to be used simultaneously to reduce latency.
Wi-Fi 7 also looks to make more efficient use of the 5GHz and 6GHz frequency bands when wider channel widths are used. Multi Resource Units (RU) and Puncturing allow the Wi-Fi channel to be split into different parts. This enables multiple users to use the channel and allows the access point to side-step interference that only affects part of the channel. All this means a better user experience, especially in environments with a higher user density or environments susceptible to external sources of interference.
What are the key differences between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7?
Wi-Fi 7 isn’t a revolutionary shift in the way Wi-Fi 6 was, but it makes several really important steps forward in terms of standards.
- In terms of speed, it’ll surge with a maximum speed of 36 Gbps compared to Wi-Fi 6’s 9.6 Gbps
- It’ll support up to 320MHz channels compared to 160 channels
- It will introduce Multi-Link Operation (MLO), making it possible for devices to send and receive data simultaneously across multiple frequency bands and channels
- Multi resource unit puncturing will make to most efficient use of bandwidth
- It can use 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz
When can we expect Wi-Fi 7 to become available?
Whilst the official launch happened just a few months ago (November 2022), displaying early device designs, routers coming to market isn’t expected until later into 2023, probably towards the end of the year and into 2024. Wi-Fi 7 compatible devices will be longer, meaning the uptake of the new standard will largely follow user demand.
If you’d like to know more about Wi-Fi 7 and how best to plan network upgrades, get in touch with our team.
Today marks 12 months since the simple instruction to “stay home, save lives, and protect the NHS” caused a huge shift in the way we live; the COVID-19 pandemic sent millions of employees home to work, learn and socialise within their own 4 walls, and staying connected to the outside world beyond our household became entirely reliant on the internet.
Wireless connectivity has been so vital during this time that digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation has recommended that the internet be classified as an essential utility, alongside electricity, water and heating. We would argue that enterprise connectivity has always been crucial, but that COVID-19 has shone a light on just how vital a part of modern day living, learning and working it is.
So what changes in perspectives and priorities have taken place in the world of WiFi in the last 12 months as a direct result of the pandemic?
Increase in Global Bandwidth & Speed
At the start of the pandemic, global internet traffic was predicted to rise by 28% but in reality it was almost double at 47% according to Telegeography. In March 2020, the UK’s major internet service and mobile providers agreed to temporarily remove data allowance caps on fixed line broadband services and added free extras to customers’ plans following discussions with the government.
Global internet bandwidth rose by 35% to meet the increase in demand, a substantial increase over the previous year’s modest 26%, showing the acute awareness that keeping the world connected digitally was vital for minimising disruption.
When reviewing the last year, speeds in the UK have increased. According to the internet speed testing giant Ookla, upload and download speeds in the UK have actually increased (and stayed elevated) since March 2020.
WiFi Means Safety
For those without adequate connectivity and security, COVID put them at higher risk of misinformation, fraud and cyber scams. The ability to book health appointments online, including vaccination jabs, put those with WiFi and connected devices such as smartphones, laptops and PCs at a significant advantage, particularly the elderly. This has caused a wave of learning within this societal bracket; 95% of adults in the UK have used the internet in the last 3 months according to ONS, meaning a significant number have been forced to become connected for the first time.
Connectivity = Continuity
Incorporating agility, capacity and BYOD into network models has been a growing focus for many years, but many organisations had not progressively adopted these factors into their IT infrastructure. The need to suddenly support remote working, video meetings, a huge rise in the number of devices connected to the network, and ensure business-wide security was a huge obstacle that caused business disruption and backlogs in work. COVID forced those lagging behind the curve to adapt in a hurry, and a year on most are in a position to offer employees a level of ongoing flexibility that did not exist in 2019.
Closing the Digital Divide
Since March 2020, wireless connectivity has been the backbone for delivering education throughout multiple lockdowns and widespread social and professional isolation. The importance of learning continuity for children, teens, and young adults meant that a close eye was kept on student experience and results, which shone a light on the ‘digital divide’.
60% of private schools and 37% of state schools in the most affluent areas already had an online platform in place to receive students’ work, meaning they were largely prepared for the shift to remote learning and teaching. This was compared with just 23% amongst the most deprived schools, showing that children from more disadvantaged backgrounds saw the biggest negative impact to their learning due to a lack of access to adequate devices such as laptops, tablets, and adequate Wi-Fi, in addition to teachers being less accustomed to digital learning and the use of EdTech. Hundreds of thousands of devices have been distributed to these students over the last 12 months, with significant grants and bursaries being given to schools to fund these improvements, but the divide remains to be closed.
Stretching the Security Blanket
With the sudden adoption of digitally working, learning and living came an explosion in terms of the number of devices connected to business networks. Security and privacy concerns sky-rocketed as every source, smartphone, portal and PC became a hacking target, and protecting businesses from cyber-attacks became a more prominent part of new network projects.
Although the initial peak in protecting business data has largely been and gone over the last 12 months, keeping your security up to date against the latest risks will remain an elevated priority in line with the elevated risks of larger and more agile networks.
Pandemic Proof Network Management
Over the last year, IT teams across the country have been under extreme pressure to deliver higher performance to more devices with less visibility. For businesses less ready for agile working, getting the workforce online and able to do their jobs remotely was a huge initial struggle. As with security, the shift has largely been made a year on, but if the size and scope of networks is set to remain ‘as is’ post COVID, managing and monitoring networks will be both more time consuming and more complex.
Uniformity across devices is less easy to ensure, and its harder to fix problems and respond to troubleshooting questions if your network isn’t cloud-based and cloud-managed. Network management will need to allow total visibility from anytime, anywhere, and will progressively need to be able to adopt AI, machine learning and other emerging technologies.
All this explains why investing in wireless connectivity is booming, and rightly so. Businesses want networks that can support the future – whatever it has to throw at us. “Business Wi-Fi isn’t a luxury or a nice-to-have anymore. The devices connecting to our networks, ranging from personal phones and laptops to connected machinery and handheld scanners, are Wi-Fi-first and many times Wi-Fi-only”. says Ekahau, the leaders in WiFi survey and design software.
For further reading, our partner Ekahau just published their latest white paper, titled “The Global State of WiFi”, which takes a long, hard, holistic view of the shape of things to come in the world of wireless.
As connected partners of Cambium Networks, we believe in wireless solutions that can deliver peak performance in the toughest environments, whether indoors, outdoors, in a warehouse, school, office – or at 18,000 feet.
Recent years have shown huge developments in where and how wireless technology can be provided, extending to the farthest and most challenging places on the planet. Few places can be as challenging for first-class connectivity than Mount Everest, characterized by craggy cliffs, ice, swift rivers and extreme weather conditions across the entire northeastern region of Nepal.
With experience in extreme conditions, it was no surprise that Everest Link approached our partner Cambium Networks to provide a wireless solution.
Despite the challenges posed to technology across these thousands of square miles of hostile terrain, reliable, secure and fast connectivity is paramount both for locals and tourists. The area sees around 40,000 visitors annually, including over 1,600 climbers across the various mountains, of which Everest is one. Tsering G. Sherpa, CEO of Everest Link said of the project, “our goal was to give them a perfect connection across the toughest terrain in the world.”
One major obstacle was power sources; at Base Camp the only viable option was renewable energy which meant carrying solar panels and devices to the installation sites by porters or pack animals. Cambium’s lightweight, energy efficient solutions made them a good match. Another issue was weather conditions; Cambium focus heavily on leading outdoor wireless technology that can withstand dust, high wind, and is waterproof, providing another solution to a highly unique challenge.
After deploying over 200 hotspots in addition to PTP 650 access points, the region has a solid connection 24 hours a day. Tsering G. Sherpa commented, “it gives us high throughput and perfect reliability. At the moment, we’re connected to the Everest base camp. There, at 5,320 meters altitude, we have a solar powered cnPilot™ e500 outdoor Wi-Fi hotspot.”
The project didn’t just set its sights on supporting tourism. In addition, Cambium Networks connected over 40 villages and 34,000 locals, with connectivity significantly boosting regional education through distance-learning.
Watch the video below to see Cambium Networks in action with Everest Link at Everest Base Camp.
We are pleased to announce we have been awarded the technology accreditation of ExtremeWireless Cloud Specialized partner status from Extreme Networks. As wireless experts, this latest accreditation further confirms our commitment and capability with world-leading enterprise wireless technology.
A leader in customer-driven networking, Extreme Networks’ specializations reflect its partners breadth of delivery and installation competency within a specific technology or solution area and we have demonstrated the highest levels of proficiency and expertise in wireless specialised technology.
As one of a select few partners, we provide Extreme Networks’ world-leading technology solutions around the U.K. and Europe. We already hold Extreme Networks Gold Partner status and this wireless technology specialisation further showcases Redway Networks as a trusted Extreme partner who can provide differentiated value and support to our customers – who include businesses, organisations and education establishments.
Our extensive experience in designing, installing and configuring enterprise networks across multiple sectors including education, warehousing and logistics, manufacturing and business office environments has helped our customers improve connectivity, efficiency and business resilience with our cloud-managed wireless infrastructure. Now more than ever, networks need to be monitored and managed from anywhere, and our ExtremeWireless Cloud expertise means we can advise you on a future-proofed network solution that fits your business’ precise needs.
Leigh Hayes, Sales Director at Redway Networks says: “ We value our partnership with Extreme and this wireless technology accreditation demonstrates we can provide an even greater customer experience at every stage of an Extreme wireless solution. Meaning our customers can better utilise their Extreme wireless investment which results in a more robust, agile and future-proofed network. Our ethos is to consistently go above and beyond with any wireless installation. We call this the Redway Experience’, which has led to a 100% customer satisfaction”.
Internet access has not only become a way of life, it’s become something we feel strongly entitled to in the western world. It’s become such a commodity at home and at work that we’ve even become justified in our frustration when we experience slow speeds, poor connection or a weak cellular service.
When you really consider it, you probably struggle to imagine how your day would look without it; how you’d communicate with colleagues and clients at work, how you’d keep track of your finances, how you’d get from A to B avoiding motorway closures and a myriad of other challenges that the internet helps us circumvent or shortcut.
The simple fact is that today’s world couldn’t operate without wireless connectivity, and neither can tomorrow’s.
But in this instance, tomorrow is #NationalDayOfUnplugging, celebrating all things switching off, and given we’re all about tech – specifically wireless networks – we thought we’d ask the team how they’d feel about a life offline.
So, just how does Redway Networks feel about a world with all its access points unplugged?
What would you miss?
- “I would miss the ability to look up things instantly for information, using my phone as a dictionary, directory and map. I would miss emailing – but we all coped without internet once before – it just gives us the speed to obtain the information, so I would certainly miss that element of it i.e. everything being at our fingertips.”
- “I’d certainly miss a tidy, largely paperless office! I’d also miss low cost communication!”
- “Google Maps! Although re-learning to use actual maps wouldn’t be all bad…”
- “I’d miss the ease of being organised and connected on the go. We take for granted how useful it is to be able to check birthdays on Facebook and send well-wishes, transfer money in seconds, set reminders without carrying scraps of paper around. Okay, I admit it, I’d be lost without Google Sheets!”
- “I’d really miss being able to speak to friends, family and my girlfriend anywhere in the world at any time.”
- “And perhaps most poignantly… “our jobs!””
What would you count on or enjoy more?
- “I’d absolutely be relying on long, boozy working lunches à la 90s!”
- “I’d certainly enjoy not seeing what everyone ate for dinner plastered all over social media… !”
- “HAM radio.”
- “I’d be forced to rely more on my rubbish short term memory. I’d enjoy life possibly slowing down a little and having a screen or two less.”
- “I’d have to go back to sending letters, cards, or travelling more… not all bad!”
- Your WiFi should offer reliability, even when you’re asking big things in terms of capacity, coverage and complexity
- Loving your wireless means trusting that it can deliver your business requirements and support growth
- Don’t get us wrong, speed is still important (and becoming more so), but a high-performing wireless network means less of the lottery aspect
- A reliable network won’t have you considering a return to the dating world, since it offers fast speeds wherever you are and you won’t experience peaks and troughs that inconvenience operations
- With the addition of WiFi6 in late 2019, we’re expecting huge improvements in speed in the years ahead as the market takes advantage of the increased efficiency compared to WiFi 5
- Security is often something that comes with time in a relationship, but these days feeling safe is an absolute must as data breach protocols become more and more stringent
- Network security involves both hardware and software, and if your organisation handles sensitive or confidential data, we always advocate a full audit to be sure that you’re not at risk
- Networks need to be scalable and adaptable to allow your business to grow and change alongside technology
- Capacity is set to be a huge part of your WiFi relationship in the coming years as IoT grows and the number of devices per person rise. Your wireless needs to be able to accommodate these additional devices and functions if your business wants to be efficient
- If you have a new network, the changes are you don’t need to do anything at all to use your growing room. If you’re in a longer term relationship with your wireless, you may need to consider finding that extra space with new hardware, load balancing, or other configuration changes
- WiFi6 presents the perfect opportunity to move to a solution that can offer incredible amounts of capacity for years to come
- Even in the darkest corners of the workplace, you’re never at a loss
- Your connection should offer maximum coverage without loveless blackspots
- Whether your organisation is a school, warehouse or office, spaces or rooms experiencing dropouts or low speeds are terrible for efficiency with teaching, picking, collaborating or exchanging data
- Some things just don’t last, and that’s a fact. What works well now won’t work in a decade’s time, and we typically start to hear about cracks in foundations around the 5-year mark
- Frustrations might not necessitate throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but its’s worth seeking advice from an expert engineer with a proven track record in your industry to determine whether its you or your network causing tensions
- A site survey is an excellent way of giving your wireless a full audit to determine where the problems lie
- Getting the best out of your wireless means investing time in it, and managing a network to ensure high performance can be a challenging and time-consuming task
- As technology continues to advance, it’s important to keep up to date with how your network can deliver the experience users expect and rely on
- If you’re struggling, don’t suffer in silence. Seeking out network support services is an excellent way of having help on tap from WiFi experts who know your solution inside out.
Let us know what you’d miss most/least by commenting on our Twitter post for #NationalDayOfUnplugging!
How it feels to be in love with your WiFi
One of the most important working relationships these days is with our wireless whether we’re at home, at work, or somewhere in between. In an ideal world, it’s a happy relationship which gives each party what it needs, but – as in reality – we see so many relationships that aren’t supportive, reciprocal, or stable.
If you’re one of the unlucky ones feeling spurned by your network, here’s what it’s like to be head-over-heels in love with your WiFi.
You can count on it during the tough times
Weariness of speed dating is well and truly in the past
You feel safe
You can grow together
You never feel alone
Being in a loving relationship with your WiFI might sound like a breeze, but a few words of warning…
Beware the 7-year itch
Love takes work
If you’re not in love with your WiFi, we hope this article has convinced you to give love another go by contacting our engineers for advice – there are plenty more wireless solutions in the sea!