Cisco Says 5G Success Will Depend on New WiFi Technology

Cisco Says 5G Success Will Depend on New WiFi Technology

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As the technology industry talks up 5G cellular networks, Cisco says much of the promised revolution in connectivity will come from a more prosaic source: WiFi, according to Bloomberg.

A new version of the ubiquitous short-range connection technology is being rolled out this year, called WiFi 6. It will bring the ability to connect many more devices to one access point, much faster data speeds and quicker response times, according to its backers, mirroring the promises of 5G cellular.

While 4G brought mobile high-speed internet to consumers, there was little effort to make it work with WiFi and that reduced its potential to transform business, according to Gordon Thomson, a Cisco vice president of enterprise networking sales. This time, as both new sets of technology debut later this year, the networks are going to be populated with electronics that talk to other electronics, not just smartphones, and for that WiFi will be crucial, he said.

“Up until now we’ve connected people and devices,’’ said Thomson. ‘Now we’re moving to a world of connected things. I believe it’ll drive the business transformation that we’ve been thinking is coming.’’

Cisco estimates 50 percent of internet data traffic is carried by WiFi. Phones need to be able to transition seamlessly between cellular and WiFi. WiFi access points will become more important as they connect everything from product beacons that show companies exactly where small items are in their warehouses, to sensors embedded in buildings that adjust the temperature to personal preferences and other sensors in hospitals that tell staff whether visitors or staff are cleaning their hands properly.

Cisco, one of the biggest providers of such access points to companies, is offering new WiFi 6 access devices, core switch machines that will better direct traffic, and is partnering with companies including Samsung to ensure roaming between cellular and WiFi becomes seamless, Thomson said.

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