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Wi-Fi 5 Equipment Reached Its Lifespan—What Now?

Wi-Fi 5 Equipment Reached Its Lifespan—What Now?

Wi-Fi 5 equipment from 2016 and earlier has been reliable; however, there has been a drastic increase in Wi-Fi network needs over the past two years and Wi-Fi 5 technology is struggling to support today’s demands. There was a dynamic shift in 2020 and 2021 in the way that users utilize Wi-Fi, such as remote work policies and increased audio and video calls. Now, many users are returning to their offices, and Wi-Fi network requirements have increased, forcing users to upgrade their equipment sooner than is typically expected.

What’s Different?

A lot has changed in the years since Wi-Fi 5 equipment was released and widely adopted. Prior to 2020, most organizations had:

  • adopted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), but most of the traffic was supported by the wired networks.
  • teleconference meetings were common, but most were held in designated conference rooms and often relied on wired networks.
  • the concept of an “All-Wireless Office” was only used by a small handful of organizations.

With the return to the office in 2021-2022, almost every user has a laptop or tablet as their primary device. While wired connectivity is still possible and tends to be more reliable than Wi-Fi 5 connectivity, wired is used much less. Most users have two or more wireless devices with them. In addition to their work laptop, they often have a phone, tablet, and smart accessories like watches all using Wi-Fi. Video and audio teleconferences occur anywhere in the office and may exceed hundreds of calls per day. Voice over Wi-Fi calling features for smartphones are now the standard with recent iOS and Android updates.

These changes to daily use have put a heavier workload on access points and other equipment, and like any technology device, this equipment has processing limitations. Many Wi-Fi 5 networks today cannot support enough simultaneous video and audio calls, and the performance of all users is negatively affected.

What’s the Solution?
Technium recommends upgrading to the Wi-Fi 6e solutions available from Cisco/Meraki for several reasons:
  • The Wi-Fi 6e line from Cisco is designed to support high density network environments and has the most processing capabilities of any access point model.
  • It introduces the new 6 GHz frequency radio (in addition to 2.4 and 5 GHz) increasing the total channel capacity by 120%.
  • Wi-Fi 6e introduces many features to resolve some of the most common issues with battery conservation over previous generations.
  • It currently has the longest supported lifecycle of the Cisco Meraki lineup.

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