Cisco is betting that businesses will make bets on Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure ahead of 5G as both wireless technologies will enable new use cases.
While the 5G business transformation story has garnered more headlines, Wi-Fi 6, known as 802.11ax, will also have a big impact, said Greg Dorai, vice president of product management and strategy for enterprise infrastructure and solutions group.
"We are at a landmark point for mobility with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 hitting the market soon. They can change the way we run our business and the amount of traffic and things connected will explode," he said.
Meanwhile, Cisco is eyeing a campus network infrastructure upgrade cycle. Wi-Fi equipment for some enterprises was acquired in 2010 and 2011. Others have upgraded about four years ago.
To prepare, Cisco launched a series of next-generation switches, access points and controllers. Wi-Fi 6 can offer 400 percent greater capacity and operate well in dense areas such as lecture halls and stadiums. The 5G and Wi-Fi 6 tandem is likely to handle outside wireless connectivity and inside, respectively.
Cisco's Wi-Fi 6 stack includes:
Access points for Catalyst and Meraki for the Wi-Fi 6 standard. The gear includes programmable chipsets, analytics and the ability to handle multiple Internet of things protocols.
Core switch for campus network to combine wired and wireless connections. The Catalyst 9600 core switch family is the upgrade to the Catalyst 6000.
Partnerships with Samsung, Boingo, GlobalReach, Presidio and others under a project called Open Roaming. In a nutshell, Open Roaming aims to make it easier to move from Wi-Fi and mobile networks seamlessly via identity credential sharing.
As for use cases for Wi-Fi 6 there are a few takeaways to note:
Wi-Fi 6 will arrive before broad 5G availability so most client devices will have the standard by the end of the year. Samsung's new Galaxy S10 flagship already has Wi-Fi 6.
There will be smart city possibilities as 5G is rolled out. Larger urban areas can start to couple Wi-Fi 6 and 5G.
Cisco has had field trials with NASA, BMW, and Carnival.
Open Roaming may be the biggest selling point for business users as they'll be able to hop Wi-Fi networks without re-entering credentials and emails. Cisco's Open Roaming effort revolves around an identity brokering system so a traveler wouldn't have to log-in. This identity brokering system would also allow 5G and Wi-Fi 6 to be more seamless as a wireless duo. Cisco tested out the Open Roaming system at Mobile World Congress with Samsung Galaxy devices.