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Are You Ready for the Christmas of Wi-Fi 6?

Let’s start from the beginning. Some vendors, including Extreme started the development of Wi-Fi 6 APs over two years ago. This was shortly after the IEEE had solidified the technology and had a solid draft standard. Note that no one waits for the final standard to be completed as that is a long-drawn-out logistical process that in fact the IEEE still hasn’t completed, even though the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) has already started it’s Wi-Fi 6 certification program. More information on the IEEE and WFA processes is available here. Now about a year ago we actually started shipping Wi-Fi 6 capable products and as soon as we did, the first question from partners and customers started, where are the clients? Competitors without a solution also used this same argument, at least till they launched their own products and then they no longer had an issue.. But, back to the topic at hand: clients. A key point to appreciate is that a primary driver for any new generation of the access point is new Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6 in this case. As soon as the technology was solid, vendors raced to get their products built and shipping, but not so much for the client manufacturers. Taking a look at some major Wi-Fi client manufacturers, like Samsung, Apple, Intel, HP, and others with 11ax products shipping or just announced, none of them focused on support of Wi-Fi 6 as a primary driver, it was higher processor speed, more pixels, a foldable screen or any of a half dozen new and attractive features that would get customers to buy their devices. So where 11ax technology drove the launch date for APs, it was only a second-tier component, at best, in most client-side devices. The launch schedule for the latest phones was driven by eye-catching features, not wireless technology advancements, that only us nerds can appreciate. So what does this have to do with Christmas? Hold on, I am getting there.

October 17, 2019