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Digital transformation success comes down to connectivity

Huawei unpacks the WiFi 6 advantage.

Johannesburg, 27 Nov 2020
Read time 6min 40sec

Digital transformation can be classified into two types: digitised and digital. This is according to research by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which further expounds that the digitised process aims to achieve higher efficiency, higher reliability, and lower costs; the digital process focuses on rapid innovation, revenue generation and growth.

Furthermore, digital transformation has become the core strategy of most enterprises. Direct investment in digital transformation is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5% and is expected to attain US$7.4 trillion over the years 2020 to 2023 – so says the IDC.

Whether digitised or digital, connectivity in any organisation’s digital transformation is the foundation for success.

This would explain the surge in the overall global WiFi 6 market revenue recorded over the first three-quarters of 2019, which, according to a report by the Dell’Oro Group, amounted to 30 times that of 2018 – exhibiting that at the very least, investment in the foundational technologies for digital transformation has become the norm.

It is well understood that the trend towards digital transformation will impact network transformation first. Enterprise networks will face unprecedented challenges – the pressure on networks to perform, as AI at scale, with “proactive, hyper-speed operational changes and market reactions, AI-powered enterprises will respond to customers, competitors, regulators and partners 50% faster than their peers”; collaboration between millions of production and office terminals; cloudification for 100% of enterprise services; and as security issues spike.

This explains how 2019 ushered in the commercial use of WiFi 6 – a fundamentally transformative technology incorporating numerous key 5G technologies. “Now is a good time to start planning for WiFi 6. According to the digital transformation strategy and impact of WiFi 6 on ICT infrastructure changes, CIOs and IT leaders need to consider future WiFi 6 upgrades to achieve smoother migration,” says Dr Osama Aboul-Magd, Chairman of the IEEE 802.11ax standard task group. He also pointed out that with user numbers and coverage being constant, WiFi 6 requires significantly fewer APs than the previous WiFi generations, saving capital expenditure considerably.

“That is,” says Jiang Junmu, C114 News Feature, “breakthroughs have been achieved in various aspects such as bandwidth, concurrency, latency, transmission range and battery life. For example, the maximum bandwidth of each terminal and number of concurrent network terminals have both increased more than four times. Furthermore, latency has been reduced by more than two-thirds. All these improvements create an entirely new user experience. Another advantage that cannot be ignored is the lower deployment and usage costs of WiFi 6 compared to other connection methods.”

WiFi 6 impact on enterprise

WiFi 6 will be deployed in 90% of enterprises by 2023, according to the "Unleashing the Power of Wi-Fi, Enterprise-Grade Wi-Fi 6 Forecast 2019–2023" white paper that was released during the 2019 Mobile World Congress.

This predicted uptake points to the enormous benefit to enterprise – which can be broken down as follows:

In enterprise office scenarios, 4K video conferences require a stable bandwidth of at least 40Mbit/s for each user. WiFi 6 meets this requirement due to its 1024-QAM technology, improving overall network bandwidth and ensuring an Ultra-HD (UHD) video experience for each user.

The industrial production environment requires network stability. However, in ultra-high-density concurrency scenarios, the data transmission rate and network stability of terminals decrease sharply. To address these pain points, WiFi 6 technologies, such as uplink and downlink Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), improve concurrent capacity and transmission efficiency, ensuring industrial production terminals with continuous and stable operations. Internet of things (IOT) applications will also gain additional value-added features through WiFi 6. For example, Target Wake Time (TWT) can reduce UE power consumption and save battery life.

Case studies

A financial centre in the Middle East houses more than 2 000 financial companies, as well as ultra-modern office spaces, retail stores, restaurants, art galleries, public green spaces and hotels. Huawei AirEngine WiFi 6 has helped the financial centre build ubiquitous and ultra-broadband digital workspaces. The single-carrier peak rate of Huawei’s WiFi 6 APs attain 3.8Gbit/s, which is the highest throughput in the industry as verified by Tolly Group, an international authoritative evaluation organisation.

Mondragon University in Spain has been committed to innovating and developing new education paradigms based on ICT technologies. However, its existing campus network is plagued by poor Wi-Fi roaming experience and frequent signal interruption, which have become the biggest bottlenecks. Huawei AirEngine WiFi 6 utilises unparalleled four-element smart antennas to enable wireless signals that “move with people,” expanding coverage distance by 20%. Huawei’s agile distributed Wi-Fi solution provides a high-performance network experience for students in dormitories, improving management efficiency by 90%. In addition, the AirEngine-based Dynamic Turbo (an intelligent application acceleration technology) reduces WiFi network latency to 10ms, meeting the requirement for VR/AR teaching without dizziness over long periods.

Airports, stadiums, coffee shops, and other public locations are traditional Wi-Fi deployment scenarios. However, in the past, user experience sharply declined as the number of connections increased. A large airport in Asia is one of the busiest in the world, with passenger traffic reaching new heights every year. Huawei AirEngine WiFi 6 is powered by the industry’s fastest WiFi 6 APs that support high concurrency, meeting the wireless access requirements of densely populated airports and ensuring smooth HD video playback. In addition, Huawei AirEngine WiFi 6 supports IOT extension modules, ensuring value-added services, such as asset management as well as positioning and navigation, are effectively deployed in airports.

Beyond WiFi 6

Huawei is not only the first company to invest in and promote the development of commercial WiFi 6 products, but more importantly, it provides real-world end-to-end WiFi 6 enterprise network solutions. In addition to ubiquitous wireless access with service continuity, Huawei’s solutions also include ultra-broadband, intelligent transmission, as well as intelligent, simplified management and O&M.

In June 2019, Huawei launched the all-new CloudEngine S series campus switches that are tailored for enterprise digitalisation in the WiFi 6 and cloud native era. According to Tolly Group’s test report, the switching capacity of the CloudEngine S12700E is six times that of the industry average. These campus core switches have the highest single-slot bandwidth, highest 100GE port density, and largest system switching capacity. The CloudEngine S series boasts wired and wireless convergence capabilities, a threat deception engine, and the telemetry technology. Based on the new solar chips, and well-trained and optimised network AI algorithms, CloudEngine S series switches can provide zero packet loss and non-blocking services in high concurrency, large capacity, and heavy load scenarios, ensuring the quality of data centre-level networks and services.

Built on the Intent-Driven Network (IDN), Huawei’s CloudCampus solution is capable of intent-driven and proactive O&M, delivering “zero-touch” management and O&M.

And, Huawei’s iMaster NCE is the industry’s first network automation and intelligence platform that integrates management, control, analysis, and AI functions. Tailored for campus networks, iMaster NCE-Campus provides unmatched provisioning capabilities. Using big data analytics and AI technologies, iMaster NCE-Campus also proactively identifies and analyses network faults to implement intelligent closed-loop management.

More than 700 cities and 228 Fortune Global 500 companies had chosen Huawei as their digital transformation partner.

WiFi 6’s large-scale deployment on enterprise networks has just begun. WiFi 6 is expected to become a basic network technology with quality assurance that supplies endless power to enterprise production and service digitalisation. Partner with a vendor that understands your needs and exceeds your expectations. 

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