As more and more equipment is connected wireless, WLAN networks have gained critical component status in all organizations. Beyond laptops and phones, from printers and barcode readers, to telepresence solutions and industrial equipment monitoring systems, they are all dependent on wireless networks. The situation generates increased pressure on the IT department, which must ensure a higher level of availability, speed and scalability, but also the security and quality parameters of Wi-Fi connections.


The start has been made  

In this context, the new IEEE 802.11ax standard – promoted under the trade name of Wi-Fi 6 – represents a true breath of fresh air for the already challenged network administrators. In early September 2019, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that the “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6” program is available, so the official start has been made.

Market analysts estimate that the turning point for sales of Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices will be reached by next year. According to IDC, currently over 86% of the WLAN networks in the enterprise area use the 802.11ac standard, but the transition to the new version will be faster than previous developments, with the companies modernizing their wireless infrastructure forced by the increase in the number of “wireless” devices and applications that require large bandwidths. The migration will also be facilitated by the fact that the old equipment, which is not compatible with the 802.11ax standard, will also be able to use the new networks. (Wi-Fi 6 brings back support for 2.4 GHz, as opposed to 802.11 ac as it only works in 5 GHz.)

Therefore, now is the best time to start researching the market to familiarize yourself with the offer of Wi-Fi 6 vendors. Datanet Systems specialists can help you identify not only the right solutions for your current needs, but also future developments, ensuring you the support needed to create a flexible and scalable infrastructure, capable of covering your long-term business requirements.


Extra benefits of Wi-Fi 6

But before you make any decision, you need to know the benefits of Wi-Fi 6. Datanet specialists have reviewed the main technological innovations they offer and how they translate into immediate business benefits.

First of all take in consideration OFDMA, the new version of Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technology, which Wi-Fi4 and 5 use to encode and transmit data. OFDMA (the added A comes from Access) brings a major change – transmissions coordination is centrally managed by the access points (AP), which can now receive / send data from / to several equipment simultaneously, taking into account their capacity, package dimensions and service quality requirements (QoS). For your organization, this means primarily lower latency, more efficient resource management in multi-user environments and faster outdoor deployments.

The Wi-Fi 6 technology also uses a denser modulation – 1024 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), compared to 256 QAM in the 802.11ac version – which ensures an increase between 25 and 35% of the transfer rate and, in combination with the other technologies, a capacity four times higher.

The new version of the standard also extends the capabilities of MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multi-Input / Multi-Output) technology, which now allows simultaneous transmissions to twice the number of equipment, both in dowlink (from AP to equipment), as well as uplink (from equipment to AP). Thus, MU-MIMO acts complementarily to OFDMA technology to simultaneously serve a larger number of competing users.

Another new technology is the Basic Service Set (BSS) Color – a system whereby additional data sets are added to the data transmission channels to prevent interference problems. The equipment also benefits from BSS Color technology, allowing them to access only the data transmissions that are addressed to them, which increases the battery life.

The autonomy of mobile devices, but also of IoT devices, is a priority of the 802.11ax standard, addressed also by the Target Wake Time technology. TWT is a method by which the devices communicate to the APs the time intervals at which they are set to transmit / receive data, besides being inactive, which ensures the reduction of battery consumption.

Last but not least, the Wi-Fi 6 networks will comply with the new “edition” of the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security standard launched in 2018. The main improvements introduced by WPA3 (enterprise version) are:

  • 192 bits AES encryption algorithm;
  • Simultaneous Authentication of Equal (SAE) protocol for improving protection against attacks;
  • Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) mechanism for encryption of public Wi-Fi networks.


Datanet’s recommendation

To benefit from all these technological advantages, Datanet specialists recommend using Cisco solutions. Cisco’s market leader status on the WLAN market (according to IDC, in the first trimester of 2019, the market share of Cisco was 46.8% – over three times larger than the next ranked) confirms the performance and reliability of the wireless solutions portfolio.

Although the start of Wi-Fi 6 has just begun, Cisco already has a solid offer that is expanding rapidly. The 802.11ax compatible equipment portfolio consists of the Catalyst 9100 Access Points series, the Catalyst 9800 wireless controller, as well as the Meraki MR45 and MR55 indoor APs.

The Catalyst 9100 series AP ( which includes, until nowdays, three version : 9115, 9117 and 9120) integrates various advanced features, like CleanAir, network monitoring technology, without interfering with its performance, very useful to track sources and areas of interference and identify APs and / or equipment that pose security risks. Datanet specialists can help you customize your alert system and automate current and future interference prevention measures.

Also, our engineers can help you use the Catalyst 9100 APs with the Cisco DNA Assurance platform (which you can read more about this HERE), thus benefiting from a level of visibility and control that no other network analysis application currently provides

Cisco APs also support Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Zigbee protocols, thus supporting the development of IoT projects, another field in which Datanet Systems has both expertise and experience, as well as its own solutions

In turn, the Catalyst 9800 controller is specially designed to simplify the management of wireless networks and their availability. The equipment integrates Hot patching features, which allow “on the go” vulnerabilities remediation, without affecting the operation and performance of the network, as well as adding new APs without upgrading the entire system. Our specialists can also help you integrate this Cisco product with DNA Center platform, in order to benefit from the telemetry data needed to identify and proactively solve potential problems. The Catalyst 9800 also excels in the security area, integrating Encrypted Traffic Analytics technology that will allow you to detect hidden threats in encrypted traffic.

You can find HERE more details about the functionalities and advantages of Cisco ETA. The Cisco controller can be delivered as physical equipment (9800-L, 9800-40, 9800-80 and 9800-CL models), as a virtual machine or in the “Embedded wireless” version on the Catalyst 9000 series switches.

To support the development of Wi-Fi 6 networks, Cisco also recently launched the Catalyst 9600 series of modular switches, which support up to 25.6 Tbps on a single chassis (with a throughput of up to 6.4 Tbps per slot) and 10G, 25G, 40G and 100G connection options. The switch is designed to provide maximum flexibility and low TCO to support long-term use.


Experience is a decision factor 

The Cisco solutions listed are already available on the market, but to be able to harness them to their true potential you need a partner who has advanced skills in these technologies and experience in implementation of complex projects.

Our advantage is that Datanet Systems is the main Cisco partner in Romania and we have carried out numerous WLAN development and optimization projects. Based on our experience, we have developed a working methodology that allows us to build reliable and efficient wireless networks, in accordance with the current needs of the organizations, but also with their growth forecasts.

Datanet’s methodology is based on a phased approach to wireless infrastructure projects, following the steps below:

  • identifying, together with the client, the types and versions of wireless solutions appropriate to his requirements and budget;
  • conducting a detailed site survey, using the models of equipment that the client wishes to install;
  • mapping information obtained about variations in signal levels, noise, interference, bandwidth, package loss, etc. on the wireless mapping of the location chosen by the customer;
  • establishing the locations and the number of equipment needed to cover the client’s requirements and needs, ensuring optimal reuse of existing equipment;
  • validation of the proposed network architecture with the client;
  • installation of wireless infrastructure, configuration, customization and integration with other applications (secure authentication systems, network protection solutions, etc.);
  • conducting a new detailed site survey, in order to verify / confirm the level of the quality indicators obtained;
  • adjusting the operating parameters according to the newly emerged requirements.

Datanet’s offer includes complete support and maintenance services, our company having the operational capacity to ensure optimal coverage at national level.

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