Wi-Fi is the technology that has first brought wireless broadband to the market — both among residential users and in the enterprise. Despite the fast adoption of mobile broadband, Wi-Fi still is the only or predominant wireless access technology today for most of us. Wi-Fi has shown a remarkable ability to evolve, to meet increasingly higher expectations and requirements, and to become pervasively adopted in mobile devices.
The evolution of Wi-Fi continues unabatedly to deliver increased performance, security and reliability in the existing and new license-exempt spectrum bands. It also continues to deliver a more advanced air interface, thanks to a robust ecosystem that staunchly supports standard-based solutions and interoperability among vendors and to an ever-growing range of device form factors that is widening the scope for Wi-Fi applications.
All of these factors are highly prized by the enterprise, public and safety agencies, as well as health and educational institutions that are increasingly deploying larger, high- performance and high-capacity Wi-Fi networks that have become fully integrated within the IT infrastructure. The increased centrality of Wi-Fi has resulted in higher capacity, coverage and security requirements, as well as in the need for Wi-Fi to support more-demanding classes of traffic (e.g., video and voice), a wider range of devices (e.g., tablets) and new applications (e.g., cloud computing, machine-to- machine communications).
This paper follows the ascent of Wi-Fi and looks at how its expanding role within the enterprise — including public or private organizations in the education, health care, government and safety sectors, both to provide access to employees and to support specific enterprise-specific applications that increasingly are machine-to-machine (M2M) — drives more-advanced requirements. We also examine how these requirements will be met by further expansion in the Wi-Fi standards and by a new generation of Wi-Fi equipment and devices. In closing, we discuss how the enterprise can benefit from the evolution of Wi-Fi by deploying future-proof networks that will organically improve performance.