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Why Organizations Should Adopt Wi-Fi 6 Now

With its new SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681 access points, SonicWall has combined the security and performance benefits of Wi-Fi 6 with our simplified management and industry-leading TCO.

Organizations are evolving — some more quickly, others more reluctantly. But over the past three years, the pace of change for everyone has accelerated to hyperspeed.

In early 2020, very few people could have foreseen the changes that were about to be unleashed on the world. And even fewer could have successfully predicted the long-term impact that COVID-19 would have on the way the world’s eight billion people live and work.

Prior to the pandemic, only about 2% of employees worked remotely. By May 2020, that number had risen to 70%, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. This pivot was possible because organizations were able to adjust their infrastructure to meet new working demands — and wireless technology played an important part in this solution.

The importance of wireless technology goes far beyond simply enabling employees to work remotely.  According to a study, 87% of organizations believe that adopting advanced wireless capabilities can be a competitive advantage, because it allows them to innovate and increase agility. And 86% of networking executives believe advanced wireless will soon transform their organization.

But wireless technology impacts more than just how we work: It has changed the way we shop, watch movies, listen to music, navigate in our cars, or spend time with family and friends (some of whom may be a half a world away). And every one of us expects a good experience every single time we use wireless. That’s a tall order, especially given the sheer number of existing devices and the ever-growing amount of bandwidth being consumed.

The need for high-performing, secure wireless technology has never been greater — and Wi-Fi 6 is a massive next step toward this reality. SonicWall’s SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681 access points provide the combination of performance and security that we all demand.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is the successor to 802.11ac Wave 2, or Wi-Fi 5. While the primary goal of Wi-Fi 6 is to enhance throughput in complex environments, there are additional benefits:

  • OFDMA’s multi-user support can make Wi-Fi 6 access points more efficient than Wi-Fi 5’s single-user OFDM. This results in lower latency.
  • Wi-Fi 6 utilizes WPA3, which provides advanced security features to enable more robust authentication.
  • BSS coloring marks traffic on a shared frequency to determine if it can be used. The result is less interference and more consistent service in complex environments.
  • Target Wake Time (TWT) allows devices to determine how often to wake to send or receive data, improving battery life.
  • Wi-Fi 6’s multi-user, multiple input, multiple output (or MU-MIMO) supports multiple users within a single network environment. This allows multiple users to upload and download data at the same time, resulting in less wait time and faster network speed.

Some of these features are designed to improve performance, while some are designed to improve security. Any one of them can make a positive difference in an organization’s wireless network.  Combined, however, the feature improvements provided by Wi-Fi 6 can create a significant wireless network advancement for any organization.

SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681

SonicWall’s SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681 are Wi-Fi 6 access points that deliver wireless performance and security that are superior to the 802.11ac standard.

But there are additional benefits available with the SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681, such as SonicWall Capture Security Center, a scalable cloud security management system that helps you control assets and defend your entire network against cyberattacks.

SonicWave 600 series APs also integrate with Wireless Network Manager, an intuitive centralized network management system that leverages the cloud to make it easy to manage complex wireless and security environments with a single-pane-of-glass management portal.

WiFi Planner is a site-survey tool that allows you to optimally design and deploy a wireless network to get maximum coverage with the fewest number of APs, resulting in a lower TCO.

And the SonicExpress mobile app allows you to easily register and use the Wireless Network Manager to set up, manage and monitor SonicWall wireless appliances.

A strong wireless network is not a “nice to have” — it’s a necessity. What today’s organizations require is the high performance and security of the SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681 access points.

To learn more about the SonicWave 641 and SonicWave 681 access points, as well as SonicWall’s entire wireless portfolio, visit www.sonicwall.com/wireless.

Top 7 Wireless Best Practices for Better Wi-Fi Coverage & User Experiences

Many of us face slow Wi-Fi and connectivity issues on wireless networks. Just the other day, I was in a café having coffee and browsing the internet. Suddenly, my connectivity dropped. I tried to reconnect, but the signal strength was too low. In the end, I gave up.

I am sure you have faced the same issue. Usually, at this point, you might blame the wireless network and question the capability of the access point (AP). But did you know often this is not the case? Mostly, the AP is not to blame. Connectivity problems arise due to improper designing and planning of the wireless network. Below are some of the best practices that you can follow to provide the best user experience from your wireless network.

  • Perform a site survey before installing access points

Before deploying your AP, it is critical you understand your environment and the type of deployment you require. Would you prefer coverage over density, or vice versa? To ensure the café scenario doesn’t happen, plan your network based on density. This ensures you are prepared for data traffic during peak hours on your wireless network.

Performing a site survey before deploying your wireless network can help with determining how many access points are required, and what type of coverage you can expect with your APs. Advanced site survey tools, such as SonicWall’s Wi-Fi Planner, will be able to predict the coverage automatically. This tool also lets you choose the coverage zones, and identifies what type of obstacles and areas are present in your location.

Wifi Planner

SonicWall’s Wi-Fi Planner uses heat maps to help you accurately design a dense, secure and reliable wireless environment.

  • Before plugging in your AP, check if it requires 802.3af or 802.3at

It is essential to check the power compliance of your AP before connecting it to your network. The maximum power from an 802.3af source is 15.4W, whereas 802.3at is 50W. If you are plugging an 802.3af-complaint AP into an 802.3at power source, make sure that your power supply is backward compatible with 802.3af devices. If not, your AP could be fried.

  • Max AP power does not mean max performance

Blasting your AP at full power does not ensure maximum performance. While it would showcase more coverage, the user experience may be impacted.

Think about two people in a room. They are in close proximity to each other, trying to have a conversation, and both of them are screaming at the top of their voices at the same time. Neither of the two would be able to understand each other and carry out a meaningful conversation. Similarly, based on your environment, it is essential to tweak the transmit power of the AP.

  • AP mounting is critical for ubiquitous coverage

APs are built to work in certain use cases or environments. For instance, an indoor, integrated-antenna AP is designed to work as a ceiling-mount AP in spaces like indoor office environments. This is because the APs with integrated, omni-directional antennas have a 360 degree radiation pattern. Much like the sun radiating rays, the omni-directional access points radiate RF signals. Barriers like walls, concrete and metal partitions can cause RF blockage.

  • Use 20 MHz or 40 MHz channels for high-density deployments

For high-density deployments, it is essential to choose lower channel widths, such as 20 MHz and 40 MHz. With 80MHz channels, there are just five non-overlapping channels, while for 160 MHz, there are only two non-overlapping channels. This makes it hard to deploy the higher channel widths without causing co-channel interference. Higher channel widths are ideal for low-density, high-performance requirements.

  • Deploy indoor APs every 60 feet for high-density deployments

APs should be deployed based upon your coverage or density requirements. For high-density, high-bandwidth requirements, deploy your APs every 60 feet. Make sure your Received Signal Strength Indicator (RSSI) stays above -65 dBm. Up to -65 dBm is recommended for VOIP and streaming.

  • Disable lower data rates

Based on your coverage design, it is advisable to turn off lower data rates below 24 Mbps. This ensures that the AP and client do not communicate at, say, 6 Mbps, which could result in low performance and lead to a poor user experience.

To learn more about wireless networking best practices, read our solution brief, “Best Practices for Wired, Wireless and Mobile Security.”