Three-quarters of the decision-makers in our 2021 advanced wireless survey believed that advanced wireless could create significant competitive advantage for their organization. To capture this advantage, organizations implementing advanced wireless initiatives can keep several things in mind.
A critical first step is to be crystal clear about goals. Innovation is a key objective for advanced wireless adoption. Our executive survey identified the desire to innovate using new technologies as one of the two top drivers of adoption, with four in five respondents reporting that advanced wireless was very or extremely important to their organization’s ability to implement Internet of Things, AI, big data analytics, and edge computing capabilities.13 Improving efficiency was the other top adoption driver, and enhancing customer interactions was the third most commonly cited driver.
Adopters should also determine which usage scenarios they wish to target, their application requirements, and deployment and spending constraints. Understanding Wi-Fi 6 and 5G’s specific capabilities and associated costs (e.g., for devices, solutions, and customer-premises equipment) can help decision-makers determine which would be better suited to different situations.14 For some advanced enterprise use cases, such as automated guided vehicles and autonomous robots in industrial IoT scenarios, both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G have proponents and may even be adopted side by side.15
Because advanced connectivity is a key enabler of other innovative technologies, leaders should increasingly treat advanced networking as a key component of their organization’s end-to-end enterprise architecture. As they consider how to architect and manage a landscape with heterogenous underlying technologies, networking executives face a key question around which partners to engage in this effort. To assemble complete advanced wireless solutions, organizations generally engage with a variety of vendors, such as cloud and application providers, consulting firms and other integrators, telecom companies, and network equipment providers.16
Given the role that infrastructure providers and device makers have played in initial Wi-Fi 6 trials, tapping into their expertise could help an enterprise assess its capabilities and establish pilots.17 Telecoms have a great deal to offer advanced wireless adopters too. With the benefit of holding 5G-suitable spectrum, many are seeking to extend their public networks deeper into the private setting. Given their extensive experience running cellular networks, network providers can offer key capabilities such as cybersecurity, privacy, and established relationships with other carriers to support WAN and mobility use cases. And for some mission-critical services (such as those that need to be free of device interference), dedicated, licensed 5G spectrum may have a distinct advantage. And, with better integration of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G anticipated, network operators will have the ability to direct and optimize traffic across both types of networks—for instance, offloading to Wi-Fi 6 to reduce cellular congestion.18
Whatever the end, Wi-Fi 6 will almost certainly be an important part of the means. As 5G’s essential partner in advanced wireless solutions, Wi-Fi 6 will be increasingly central to realizing the benefits that organizations are pursuing through next-generation connectivity.