Cisco reveals plans to tap Wi-Fi 6 business opportunity

Cisco Systems announced plans to tap business opportunities around the next generation of Wi-Fi standards, giving a core part of its $28.2 billion infrastructure business a refresh, while aiming to add more software revenue.
Cisco Wi-Fi 6Cisco, the #1 enterprise networking supplier, announced new access points and switches for businesses for Wi-Fi 6, a new standard expected to roll out by 2022. Phones, laptops and other devices will connect to Cisco’s access points on corporate campuses and carry the traffic to the switches, which connect to a business’s wired network.

Cisco, which controls about 45 percent of the market for corporate Wi-Fi systems according to research firm IDC, is releasing the hardware well before most phones and laptops have a chip to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, Reuters reported.

Earlier this year, Huawei said its first commercial Wi-Fi 6 product supports ultra-broadband required scenarios such as wireless VR, AR, 8K HD video transmission, and desktop cloud applications, preparing businesses for smooth evolution.

The new network technology is designed to give a modest speed boost, but also to solve some of the biggest problems facing current Wi-Fi networks.

Cisco said Wi-Fi 6 delivers up to 400 percent greater capacity and is more effective in high-density settings like large lecture halls, stadiums and conference rooms. Latency is vastly improved, allowing for near real-time use cases. Wi-Fi 6 is easier on connected devices’ batteries and provides an overall more predictable user experience.

Cisco completed interoperability testing with Broadcom, Intel and Samsung prior to the launch of its Wi-Fi 6 access points.

Samsung, Boingo, Presidio and others are expected to join the Cisco OpenRoaming project to solve wireless pain points. The Cisco OpenRoaming project aims to make it easier to hop between Wi-Fi and LTE networks and onboard public Wi-Fi.

One aspect of the networks that consumers will notice is deeper ties with the 5G wireless networks that will arrive around the same time from mobile carriers. When both new networks are in place, a hotel guest’s phone could shift from 5G to a hotel’s Wi-Fi network after check-in without having to enter a name or password.

“There’s going to be a much stronger interconnection and relationship and handoff that occurs,” Gordon Thomson, Cisco’s vice president of enterprise networking sales, said.

Brandon Butler, a senior research analyst for IDC, said that is part of Cisco’s longer-term strategy in the past several years to derive a greater portion of its network infrastructure sales from software, which can be sold on a subscription basis for steadier revenue than hardware sales.

The new device “brings that backend switch into line with the company’s broader network software strategy,” he said. “This has been an evolution for the company, from a hardware based-model to a software-based model.”