Wi-Fi 6E opens up access to the 6GHz band (Wi-Fi 6 uses 5GHz) and with it a myriad of benefits including low latency, 3 times as many Wi-Fi channels, and the capacity for much higher bandwidth. Another key benefit is that devices like cordless phones, airport radar, perimeter sensors, and digital satellite don’t interfere with Wi-Fi 6E like they do with previous standards.
With higher bandwidth, more channels and less interference, applications like VOIP and video over Wi-Fi will perform well and enable teams to do more without being tethered, so many organizations are considering the move to Wi-Fi 6E as end user devices become available.
How many access points will I need?
The first question most organizations ask is: How many devices do I need and where should I mount them?
Access points and office layouts are not created equal. We worked with a luxury hotel that opened to constant complaints about their wireless network. Clients could connect, but kept losing their connection in the middle of their work. We had another client running robots in a warehouse and in certain locations, the robots would just stop moving. The hotel installed far too many access points, while the warehouse was missing coverage in key areas.
Both organizations planned their wireless networks “by eye.” A better approach is to run a diagnostic tool that measures the effectiveness of wireless signal in the space. Things like wall thickness, the shape of the space, and number of clients, affect the number, location, and type of access points required.
The hotel we worked with could have saved thousands of dollars by buying fewer access points. The warehouse would have had better results by adding a few access points (which is much easier upon original installation than moving devices around – because access points are wired!) In each case, developing a solid design before installing access points would have resulted in cost savings and improved user experience.
Will my older devices work?
Yes. Many access points are tri-band, meaning they have radios that support 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz. A wireless design will show coverage and performance for all three bands, so you can be confident you have coverage for a range of devices on your network.
This backward compatibility preserves your investment in mobile devices and makes now a great time to invest in Wi-Fi 6E.
What other benefits come from a Wi-Fi design?
A good design will help you configure your devices for optimal performance. Selecting channels, power levels and location are best done by a tool to deliver optimal performance. Because client devices on a wireless network move and because wireless signals are invisible without the right tools, troubleshooting wireless networks is very difficult. A good network design will tell you precisely where to locate the access points and how to configure them, so your network performs well right out of the gate.
Remember: as you increase the capacity of your wireless network, you may need to address the performance on your switches, which connect your wireless and wired networks together.
MTSi is one of a select group of New England MSPs with the Ekahau suite of wireless design tools. If you are planning an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E and would like help planning your implementation, reach out to our sales team.