Troubled dawn of the Wi-Fi 6 standard
6/1/2022
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Troubled dawn of the Wi-Fi 6 standard

The Wi-Fi market appears to be somewhat disorganized lately. There was a perception that Wi-Fi 6, a standard approved in 2018, would have attained widespread acclaim by this point.

The new technologies were developed to satisfy the demand for faster wireless technologies, which are necessary to meet the demand for more broadband-intensive apps and aid employees working in a hybrid workplace, with the expectations that this has placed on those who work from home.

It hasn't been easy fulfilling that requirement, despite Wi-Fi 6 and 6E's best efforts. Even though Wi-Fi 7 is still a way off from becoming widely used in the enterprise market, some reports that the adoption of the technology has slowed and that some users are holding off until it is approved before implementing the newer technology.

The most astounding aspect is that Wi-Fi 6 is an established standard while this is happening in an environment where wireless connections are more important than ever. However, Wi-Fi6 and 6E have a lot of momentum behind them, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

According to a Comcast poll, 59 percent of businesses that have enhanced their Wi-Fi systems used these new standards. With some manufacturers releasing products, Wi-Fi 6E is undoubtedly starting to emerge as a viable technology.

Global supply chain challenges

Every manufacturer of network equipment is experiencing a problem with component supply, and this problem affects most, if not all, of their products. Senior executives at the manufacturers predict that supply issues will restrict shipping into the second half of 2022.

A portion of the issue is the shifting labor market as fabrication facilities deal with an increase in absenteeism, which is unlikely to improve soon. According to economists from top international organizations, the availability of competent workers won't reach pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2023. The idea is that while emerging economies lack access to high-quality medical care, advanced economies do, and a large portion of manufacturing is done in developing nations. Additionally, the epidemic has impacted port workers, as fewer employees were unloading ships.

But this only tells a portion of the tale. The epidemic has also impacted the Wi-Fi 6 rollout in other ways. Organizations have had to rethink their entire corporate infrastructure to support a new generation of remote workers due to the emergence of the hybrid workplace and the work-from-home movement.

On the surface, this should result in a higher need for updated wireless equipment, but things are more complicated. Businesses realized their network infrastructure needed to alter to support an increasingly distributed workforce. As a result, there is increased security when working from home and accessing company files.

Niche start

But there has been such a demand that executives at numerous network equipment manufacturers have announced they will redesign equipment using more readily available components to deliver popular products to market quicker. As a natural result, niche and unwanted products are likely more vulnerable to supply restrictions. New technology will fall behind as suppliers try to make the most of what they already have.

Considering Turk Telekom and other commercial organizations are already working on small-scale 6E initiatives, there is no guarantee that this anti-niche approach will impact the adoption of Wi-Fi 6 or 6E. The adoption of Wi-Fi 6 or 6E has been slower in Europe than in the US because many governments are hesitant to give up the currently-used spectrum. Europe only allowed Wi-Fi on half of the band. 

Spectrum issues

In Europe, a wide range of organizations utilizes that spectrum, including several utilities and railroad firms. Then there is the issue that Europe is a region that is more mobile-centric than the US. Strong mobile businesses have been pressing for the usage of that spectrum. A careful balance must guarantee that current consumers are not left behind, yet cellular service providers may still fully utilize the spectrum.

Even in the US, things are not always simple. The spectrum is still used in long-distance phone lines, smart streetlights with cameras and sensors, and grid control. The latter is particularly challenging because it is still tough to implement 6E and adhere to regulatory requirements. For instance, the administration of Wi-Fi 6E signal transmission outdoors requires a computerized frequency control system.

Spectrum still has problems that need to be fixed, but things are headed in the right direction. The Wireless Broadband Alliance believes spectrum sharing is acceptable because advanced technology is available to support it. Attention must be devoted to densely populated metropolitan regions, and technologies must be used to handle these difficulties.

However, as the globe changes, there is an increasing need to deal with the need for faster wireless broadband. The fundamental problem is how modern data services change how people do their jobs. Our lives have already been impacted by broadband and cutting-edge technologies like virtual and augmented reality. Additionally, the Covid epidemic has highlighted how crucial Wi-Fi is for everyone.