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The Future of Enterprise Wireless from CES 2016


CES 2016 has just come to a close especially when it comes to enterprise wireless networking. While most of the newer innovations are not available beyond a homes or a small office environment, they are very telling of what we’ll be seeing in the year to come from most of the established wireless vendors.

Over the past few years, technology has been growing exponentially not only in number but also in advancement. Your WLAN is the foundation of every modern and growing business; it determines how fast things get done, how conveniently information and data can be accessed, and ultimately how productive your employees are both in the office and on the move.

According to Lisa Phifer, owner of Core Competence, there are several things that we generally need to look out for when it comes to the near and far future of wireless; the shear number of devices that are going to be connected constantly to any given network, the strain these connections are going to but on your network, the future standard moving on from 802.11ac and onto something different, and the size of the area that is going to need to be covered.

When dealing with the number of devices, we’re not just talking about tablets, smartphones and laptops. The Internet of Things (IoT) has been making waves over the past year with mass implementation on the horizon. Enterprise are also facing with a future full of smartwatches, smart-offices and possibly drones, all of which have had massive revenue growth and all of which have to be connected to a network. Not to mention the expanded bandwidth needed to play higher quality audio and video.

Many of the top enterprise wireless network solution providers announced new products coming out that would help solve this very problem. This includes NetGear, D-Link, Acer, TP-LINK and Linksys. While these new products are geared more towards homes and small businesses, they are telling of what’s to come and what will be developed next.

When we increase the number of devices that will be using, the number of devices and the area that each access point can cover has to increase as well. This is not an easy feat to manage and there are currently four research projects being conducted to reinvent wireless technology by doubling the bandwidth of the average network. This would be huge for the incoming flux.

“As Boingo CTO Derek Peterson observed, the industry needs roughly 2000 MHz of spectrum, but has only 900 MHz available in all. “We’re short 1100 MHz before we even start,” said Peterson. Peterson participated in the CES 2016 session, Gazing into the Wireless Future, discussing a range of factors that are expected to drive wireless technology, from bandwidth to battery life.”

We’re still a long way away from coming close to the bandwidth we would need so we have to adjust in other ways. So far, the 802.11ac standard has done a decent job of that but as we climb to the limits of what modern wireless can offer, we can only go so fast. This is what makes investing in an 802.11ac solution so valuable now. Even though there are other standards on the horizon, none of them are predicted to do as well as 802.11ac in terms of providing significantly better speed or traffic handling. What they will do is provide a different way of connecting devices to a network that will be on par with 802.11ac, but not necessarily better. For now, it’s best to stick with 802.11ac because it’s looking like we’re going to be here for a while until something significant happens with future wireless technology.

wireless guide coverFor information on the top 802.11ac solutions, check out our latest Buyer’s Guide:

  • Easy, side-by-side comparison of the top 802.11ac wireless vendors
  • Descriptions of each solution and their strengths
  • Important questions to ask yourself and potential vendors when considering a solution
  • Market overview of the current 802.11ac wireless space
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