Wi-Fi can make or break the occupier experience. But it’s not always easy for flexible workspace providers to know how best to keep up with the latest advancements and technology, to ensure they deliver the best experience to their customers. That’s where we come in! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Wi-Fi 6 and what this means for your flexible workspace portfolio.
WHAT IS WI-FI 6?
Let’s start with what it actually is. Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) is the latest generation and standard for wireless internet. It is designed to improve speed, increase efficiency and reduce congestion in heavy bandwidth usage scenarios and demanding Wi-Fi environments. What’s most important and different about Wi-Fi 6 is how it handles the growing number of internet connected devices. Traditionally, the more devices connected, the slower the network which means slower devices and unhappy occupiers in flexible workspaces. With Wi-Fi 6, each device performs at an optimum level as it is an upgraded standard that allows compatible devices to transmit Wi-Fi signals more efficiently.
Instead of increasing the speed for individual devices, Wi-Fi 6 improves the network when multiple devices are connected. As your spaces are scaling and growing, this is essential when it comes to providing the best occupier experience. To put this into perspective with a home scenario – when Wi-Fi 5 was introduced back in 2014, the average US household had five Wi-Fi devices. Now homes have an average of nine devices, and there are predictions that it will 50 reach in the near future.
Bringing it back to flexible workspaces, multiple devices take a toll on your network. Routers can only communicate with so many devices at once, so the more devices demanding airtime, the more the network overall is going to slow down.
Wi-Fi 6 mitigates these issues by letting routers communicate with more devices at once, allowing routers to send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast, and lets Wi-Fi devices schedule check-ins with the router. Combined, these features keep strong connections even as more and more devices start demanding data.
Reduced congestion and efficient data transfer
Imagine a bar with lots of people trying to order drinks (pre-Covid-19 of course) and just one bartender on duty. They’re good at their job and even capable of multitasking a bit to speed up service, but it’s still very busy and some customers are going to have to wait.
That bartender is your busy Wi-Fi Access Point, and the customers are all of the devices in your flexible workspace – your occupiers’ phones, your laptops etc. All of them need the bartender’s attention, but there’s only so much to go around.
In this analogy, Wi-Fi 6 is essentially the bartender having four extra arms meaning they can serve drinks to multiple customers at once at a quicker pace. Not only are they faster, they’re also more efficient because they can collect empty glasses on the way back of serving customers to keep the bar clear (i.e. reduced congestion). What this means is that the Wi-Fi 6 standard is designed to allow network access points to communicate more efficiently with more users and devices at once, and in a way that helps them use less power.
Extremely low latency
Latency is the delay between a user’s action and a web application’s response to that action, often referred to in networking terms as the total round trip time it takes for a data packet to travel. In terms of Wi-Fi, 6 routers can pack more information into each signal they send, which means they can communicate with devices faster and more efficiently. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 access points can allocate each individual signal between multiple recipient devices, servicing all of them with a single transmission like a delivery lorry driver with multiple stops.
Wi-Fi 6 devices must use a new generation of encryption security protocol called WPA3 in order to pass the Wi-Fi Alliance certification. This technology can prevent security attacks and make data more secure, offering complete peace of mind to you and your occupiers.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU
Now is the time to re-assess your Wi-Fi infrastructure and invest to ensure that your digital infrastructure is as good as it can be. As users begin to reoccupy offices they will expect to never have a Zoom drop, to be able to download huge spreadsheets and to wander all over the office with a seamless and perfect connection. The last 5 meters of Wi-Fi connectivity is critical to your occupier’s experience and we recommend upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 as soon as possible – certainly in the next 12 months.
Our preferred Wi-Fi 6 vendor is Cisco Meraki – regarded as the clear market leader and selected by us after a rigorous and exacting competition. But there is more to great Wi-Fi than just a great manufacturer. We now manage over 7,000 Access Points (APs) and have used our experience and expertise to refine and document our predicative capacity / coverage survey, AP quantity / specification, AP installation, post install survey/testing and the ongoing Wi-Fi health monitoring process. This ensures your flexible workspaces have the most effective Wi-Fi coverage and capability, to delight your occupiers.
HOW DO I GET WI-FI 6?
Simple – just ask us!
As a guide, a Wi-Fi 6 upgrade with new Cisco Meraki MR46 Access Points would cost approximately £0.70 / $0.80 per square foot (Net Internal Area or NIA). This would include a full specification, engineering, testing, and post install survey. This assumes a standard configuration and also that you handle the physical installation (to our specification) of the new Access Points.
The first step is a free predictive survey so we can provide you a detailed quotation and so you can see where the new access points need to go. Simply email a measured floor plan in PDF format of the space that requires coverage to your Customer Success Manager and we will take it from there.
To find out more about why digital infrastructure, including Wi-Fi is vital in a flexible office environment and how to ensure your proposition meets the standard of varying occupier requirements, read our Wi-Fi 101 guide here.