Written by Andy Thompson
Senior Solutions Architect at ADAPTURE

What’s the next wave in wireless?

I am going to introduce this topic by discussing 802.11ac Wave 2, as I believe this is a foundation for many of the new and exciting technologies that may soon hit the market. Even though AC Wave 2 may not be a new technology, it will certainly play a major factor in many different vertical markets throughout the coming year.

The main objective of AC has been to bridge the gap between the dramatic speed differences that have existed between Wired vs. Wireless technology. This is rapidly becoming a moot point.

What is Wave 2 and what are the key benefits?

  • Unleashes Multi-Gigabit Possibilities
  • More Connected Devices
  • Stronger Performance
  • More Bandwidth and Flexibility

So in layman’s terms: bigger pipes, support for many more concurrent connections, stronger and more flexible backhauls, and higher performance.

In my experience, the main areas that will be high-target segments seeking help to update or augment their existing infrastructures with Wave 2 technology will be medical/healthcare and educational organizations.

  • Medical/Healthcare – This insight is based on the ever-increasing number of healthcare apps developed and deployed in small independent offices and large hospitals. These organizations are fighting fires daily to provide caregivers the information they need in a timely fashion. These organizations often experience a saturation of concurrent connections and back-haul issues that Wave 2 was specifically designed to address.
  • Educational – Much like the medical scenario, educational facilities from K-12 to College are struggling with high network demand from students, faculty, and parents. These are very real concerns, and the educational space is looking for resolutions.

Who are the main players in this space?

wifi

I come from a very strong Cisco background, having worked with both autonomous and controller based versions of their access points for more than a decade. I have been a strong proponent of Cisco technology and continue to do be. I am also Meraki certified and feel it to be a good solution, particularly for the educational market, K-12.

That being said, in recent months I have become quite fond of the Xirrus solutions. The Xirrus web interface and ease-of-use for both chargebacks, location analytics, temporary landing pages, visitor portals and brute strength have me very impressed.

I do not claim any to be the best, as each situation will require a custom solution. However, these devices combined with the appropriate back-end, web-based or on-premise controller solutions, teamed with correctly sized multi-gigabit Ethernet switches will provide the groundwork needed to power your users.

Great Examples of What’s Next with Wireless

Now that I’ve briefly reviewed the technology behind advancements in wireless, let’s review some exciting applications of this technology in the real world.

1. Staying at a hotel will never be the same!

  • Fixed-mobile Convergence
    Automatic phone pairing with customer room phone. Staff will have the ability to reach out to the guest regardless of their location. Calls can be forwarded, and can seamlessly transfer from Wireless to 4G.
  • Location Analytics
    Perhaps staff can locate a guest who has placed a dinner order and decided to go to the pool. With location analytics, staff will easily be able to locate the guest and provide better customer service.
  • Mobile Device as Door Key
    No need for reassigning room keys. Synchronize guest phones with the proper code through a digital reader, and the worry of lost keys or reprogramming can become a thing of the past. This, combined with location analytics, can make check-in and check-out almost a thing of the past.

2. Finally, something Nikola Tesla envisioned years ago!

  • Wireless charging over radio frequencies
    80 years in the making, and Tesla’s vision is coming to fruition. RF charging over large areas: laptops, phones, tablets, wireless earbuds, you name it. If it has a battery, it can be charged via RF. This one technology, if it bears the potential that it has, will effectively change the way we live our lives. Automobile manufacturers and home and business automation companies are already developing these solutions to be released very soon. Imagine walking into a restaurant, to a department store, or even your home, and not having to think about finding a cord to charge your device.

3. Home Automation evolved!

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
    For a while now, we have been hearing about full home automation. “Smart” appliances, security, entertainment, sleeping, and, believe it or not, even oral hygiene! Yes, a toothbrush that keeps you posted on your brushing habits!These items are bursting on the scene at an unprecedented scale, and we will continue to see this expansion. Control your lights with your voice. Lock your doors from your phone. Turn off your air conditioner while you are in the Bahamas. All these Jetson-like wireless technologies are rapidly coming our way. I am not sure how they are going to do the whole “make an entire meal from a tiny cube” in the microwave. But I bet someone is working on it.

My goal for reviewing these wireless technology implementations was not to pinpoint what cool “must-have” trends are coming, but to shine a light on which markets will see a lot of growth and continued innovation. This information helps technology experts see the impact of the technology they work on every day from a 50,000-foot view.

I believe that the next year will provide businesses an unprecedented ability to reach out to their customers and provide an experience like never before. And I believe the infrastructures and technologies required to support these innovations are already here. The age of wireless has just begun.

Sources:

Plan Your Path to 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Impact of Wireless Technology in the Workplace
Top 10 Communication Trends in Hotel Technology for 2017
CES 2017: Wireless charging may about to become a reality
Enterprise-grade Wi-Fi access points

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