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Wireless Trends and the Internet of Things in 2021

As IoT continues to expand, enterprise Wi-Fi and computing are innovating to keep up

Key takeaways:

  • Wi-Fi 6 and 6E enable faster connections and potentially more devices, a critical upgrade that supports the proliferation of IoT devices.
  • Edge computing is gaining popularity to improve real-time data transmissions and lower bandwidth costs.

The Internet of Things (IoT), the expansive and ever-increasing network of smart products, has altered how people communicate, businesses operate, and consumers receive services. And it would all be impossible without higher-performing Wi-Fi that can handle more connected equipment and high-bandwidth activities.

Here are some of the most significant impacts that IoT is having on Wi-Fi—and vice versa:

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E

One of the biggest moments for Wi-Fi was the introduction of Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax in 2019, and the standard is now being widely leveraged. It delivers increased capacity, better power efficiency, higher data rates, and improved coverage, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance. High-density areas like stadiums, concert venues, and airports were a priority with this rollout since people are carrying around far more IoT devices. Wi-Fi 6 also better supports high-bandwidth applications, like VoIP platforms, and ensures that time-sensitive data is transferred at improved speeds. 

Building on the existing Wi-Fi 6 is Wi-Fi 6E, which can operate in the 6 GHz frequency band, rather than just the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This increases the amount of Wi-Fi space available by a factor of about two in the US, though it can be less in other countries that haven’t fully leveraged the spectrum. 

Updated Wi-Fi standards continue to adapt to increasing demand for devices and better-performing networks. These upgrades make way for more real-time applications, faster data transfer, and high-speed, low-latency connectivity—all great examples of how IoT growth is driving some of the most significant changes to wireless networking.

Edge computing

Edge computing is trending largely because of the IoT. It allows data to be analyzed close to the user device (at the “edge”) instead of in a central location that could be far from the source. Edge computing helps ensure that real-time data transmissions don't experience issues with latency so that applications can perform better. And companies can cut costs by integrating local data processing instead of doing it all on the cloud or at another central location.

Initially, edge computing was leveraged to help lower bandwidth costs because of the need for IoT data to be transmitted across long distances. Now, the trend is also driven by applications that require real-time transfer. IoT equipment has to stay connected to receive or transmit data on the cloud, and a device often deals with tons of information to fulfill its intended purpose. Edge gateways process data from the endpoint and filter out what needs to be sent to the cloud—so less bandwidth is required.

Edge products include smartphones, computers, smart cameras, smart appliances, and a range of IoT sensors. 

7SIGNAL’s solutions help Wi-Fi stay strong

As the diversity and complexity of the IoT continue to grow, enterprises and institutions need greater visibility into what's happening on networks and end-user devices. New endpoints are being introduced every day, and more people are trying to connect everywhere they go. 

7SIGNAL’s solutions provide continuous insight into digital experiences. Our Wireless Experience Monitoring platform helps keep connections stronger and resolutions faster with proactive solutions. And our Mobile Eye® agents and Sapphire Eye® sensors reveal and resolve Wi-Fi issues on any network by monitoring from the endpoint's perspective.

7SIGNAL® is the leader in wireless experience monitoring, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based wireless network monitoring platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the edges of the network, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and stronger connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7signal.com.