My Wi-Fi Expectations and Wishes for 2019

​I am really excited about 2019. The Wi-Fi technology is always evolving, bringing new challenges along the way. And this year is no exception. I am looking forward to the challenges that I will face this year and I am looking forward to the new learning experiences that 2019 will bring.

In this article, I talk about some of the important trends that I think will be quite popular in the discussions we will have among the community or with our customers.

WI-FI 6 (802.11AX)

​Last year, we talked a lot about the theory behind Wi-Fi 6 (or 802.11ax). We saw a couple of enterprise vendors coming out with 802.11ax access points (Aerohive, Aruba Networks). We also saw a few consumer 802.11ax access points being released. However, we still haven’t heard about any 802.11ax client devices yet.

So this year, I really hope that we will start seeing some Wi-Fi 6 client devices being release so we can start playing with it. I would like 2019 to be the year of Wi-Fi 6 in practice and not only in theory. I would love to see the future iPhone supporting Wi-Fi 6.

Nevertheless, from an Engineer point of view, I believe that we will have to keep educating ourselves on the technology. First, because we need to apprehend it better. Second, we need to be able to advise and educate our customers. We are going to see a lot of false positive messages around the Wi-Fi 6 technology and we need to be able to guide and help our customers.

5G

​As we will see more and more service providers deploying 5G this year, we will continue to talk about it among the Wi-Fi community. The question is always: will 5G replace Wi-Fi in the long run? It might have the potential to do so in some cases. However, I still think that Wi-Fi will still stick around for a long time. I don’t really see the two technologies necessary competing with one another. I believe they will be complementary in most cases.

In the enterprise space, I have seen a couple of companies in Europe using alternative wireless solutions when Wi-Fi was not perfectly applicable to their use case. So I do see the use of alternative wireless solutions, such as CBRS/private LTE, being used more this year. On that note, Ruckus is coming to market with a set of CBRS LTE access points and the FCC has reserved some spectrum in the 3.5GHz band to be used for CBRS.

MORE AUTOMATION/SCRIPTING

I have personally started to see automation changing my work and the way I see my work. I believe that it is becoming more and more part of our work today and will continue in 2019. Automation requires us to learn about programming (or at least scripting). So this is not going to be an overnight transition. This is definitely something that will help us and that we can take advantage of.

With more and more vendors offering APIs to interact with their equipment, it becomes part of the technical solution and can help us configure and monitor our infrastructures. On that note, I have seen a couple companies hiring programmers to add to their networking team in order to program additional services which will interact with the Wi-Fi infrastructure using APIs. From the point of view of a VAR or consultant, it is a good way to perform the work faster and, therefore, be more competitive.

MORE CLOUD

Cisco released their new WLAN controller (Catalyst 9800 Wireless Controller) at the end of 2018. They have completely re-written the code and the new OS looks promising. One of the features is that it can now be installed on a public Cloud (such as AWS). We have also seen very good results from Meraki in 2018 (compared to traditional Cisco WLC). Mist started to really take up being involved with Fortune 10 companies. Aerohive launched their own NAC platform in the cloud (A3).

All of this leads to making me think that Wi-Fi solutions will leverage more and more cloud services in 2019. The cloud clearly allows the systems to be more intelligent, more flexible and we can all appreciate a little fewer bugs (or at least, faster ways to fix them).

What are your thoughts for 2019? Feel free to leave a comment to start the discussion.

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