Total Telecom caught up with Kevin Robinson, Vice President of Marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance

What role can WIFI play in delivering a truly ubiquitous gigabit society?

Wi-Fi has changed the way the world connects to wireless, and Wi-Fi has played a fundamental role in delivering reliable connectivity to users in many locations. As Wi-Fi evolves and new generations – such as the latest generation Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 – are introduced, Wi-Fi will continue to play an even greater role in delivering a truly ubiquitous gigabit society. Wi-Fi already nearly ubiquitous around the world, and advanced capabilities included in Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 do more than just increase individual devices speed. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 actually increases the entire aggregate performance of a Wi-Fi network, enabling every device on the network to achieve much closer to theoretical maximum speeds at once. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 delivers four times speed and capacity improvements from Wi-Fi 5, and these will support a wide range of product categories and devices with diverse usage profiles. So while Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 increases individual device speeds, more impressively it helps more devices on a network – even in dense, crowded environments – to get closer to breaking the gigabit barrier for a variety of applications.


How can WIFI work hand in hand with 5G?

Wi-Fi and cellular have always worked together to deliver connectivity for a range of use cases. Wi-Fi has been a strong complement to 3G and 4G, and we expect Wi-Fi will continue to be a strong complement to 5G cellular networks. Each technology is best suited to address their own unique environments. 5G is best suited for high mobility scenarios such as driving down the highway, whereas Wi-Fi is the preferred method of connectivity when a user steps indoors. Both technologies need each other to deliver connectivity in the wide range of scenarios users expect. Additionally, technologies such as Wi-Fi Passpoint are available to help make the transition from cellular to Wi-Fi more seamless and secure.


What are some of the main challenges in the UK market at the moment?

In the UK, private home Wi-Fi is generally a reliable source of connectivity, so much so that 83% of data in the UK is transferred via Wi-Fi (Netradar, 2019). Where issues tend to arise, like with other markets, is when a network is required to cater to a high density of users, typically in a public space. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 will mitigate some of this risk, delivering higher performance, greater capacity and requires the latest version of Wi-Fi security, WPA3.


How big a deal is the release of the WIFI 6 standard?

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 brings the greatest advancements to Wi-Fi in 20 years. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 will change the way users can connect to wireless in a variety of scenarios – including densely populated environments like transportation hubs and sports arenas – by improving performance of every device on the network. Advanced capabilities in Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 will deliver higher performance, greater capacity, and lower latency with Wi-Fi devices, further expanding the environments and use cases where Wi-Fi can be used. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 represents a fundamental shift in the way users can use Wi-Fi. 


What predictions do you have for the use of WIFI over the next 12-18 months.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 will serve as an inflection point for the adoption of the technology. We’ve already seen strong momentum from the industry with Wi-Fi 6 access points and flagship smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S10, Note10, and iPhone11. Analysts predict there will be nearly 1.6 billion Wi-Fi 6 devices by 2020 which demonstrates more rapid adoption than previous Wi-Fi generations. When Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 is available (Monday the 16th) we expect to see many more devices announcing support for the latest generation of Wi-Fi, and also expect new interesting deployments by service providers, both fixed and mobile, as well as enterprises including education and business environments.