Is It Foolish To Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6?

When was the last time you upgraded your wireless access points? You probably have received a call from your sales representative, informing you about all the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 and the problems it is going to solve. 

Meraki MR45 – Wi-Fi 6 access point

Wi-Fi 6 is very new. The biggest benefits will be seen on Wi-Fi 6 capable devices. Do you have Wi-Fi 6 devices on your network? At the time this was published (August 2019) there is only the Samsung S10 and an Intel AX200 card. Is it foolish to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 today? I think so. Here’s why..

Wi-Fi 6, or as it is defined 802.11ax, is not a standard yet. It is still in draft form. Any devices and access points that are currently selling are considered pre-802.11ax. There may be some Wi-Fi 6 features not supported on these devices. 

The touted speed increases that have been mentioned are theoretical. There’s math involved to come up with the highest speed numbers which, in an enterprise environment, you may not be able to see for a number of reasons. We have not seen this tested in real environments yet to determine a realistic point of view.

Cisco C9115, C9117, and C9120 Wi-Fi 6 access points

Not to mention, Wi-Fi 6 is not about speed. It is about efficiency in the radio frequencies utilized. As those efficiencies are realized we may see an increase in speed, especially in high-density environments. But that is yet to be validated. 

Without any tangible results from real environments, it can be foolish to upgrade just based on the marketing numbers we see from the vendors. 

My recommendation is to acquire a few Wi-Fi 6 access points and test them. Find out how it works with your devices and if you do have Wi-Fi 6 clients, test out those Wi-Fi 6 features. Test as much as you can before deploying company-wide. 

The real question is how much risk are you able to take in by deploying Wi-Fi 6 today?


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