Content, Distributed Workforce, Networking

WiFi 6 and 5G Wireless Networks: Cisco’s One-Two Punch

Cisco Systems sees WiFi 6 and 5G wireless networks as a killer combination. As part of a major push, the networking giant is promoting this WiFi 6 and 5G guidance to help partners and customers get ready for both technologies. Key partners on testing and early deployments include Presidio, the midmarket IT solutions provider.

While 5G's potential business benefits are well documented, the WiFi 6 discussion is still emerging. At first glance, the conversation is about speed. WiFi 6 will support 9.6 Gbps connection -- up from 3.5 Gbps for WiFi 5. But the more important chatter likely involves WiFi 6's ability to effectively maintain quality connections as more devices come onto a network, according to The Verge.

Cisco WiFi 6: Product Launches, Partner Efforts

Not by coincidence, Cisco is launching numerous WiFi 6-oriented products and services. The lineup, which emphasize enhanced security, includes:

  • WiFi 6 Access Points: New access points across the Catalyst and Meraki portfolios. The access points feature programmable chipsets, access to analytics capabilities, and integration with such IoT (Internet of Things) protocols as BLE, Zigbee, and Thread.
  • Switching: The Catalyst 9600 is the next evolution of the Catalyst 6000 — and positioned as the "bedrock for the next generation of intent-based business networks."
  • Developer Resources: Including the DevNet Wireless Dev Center to help developers program all the way down to the chipset level.
  • Partnerships: Cisco completed interoperability testing with Broadcom, Intel and Samsung to address the inevitable gaps that come with a new standard. Samsung, Boingo, GlobalReach Technology, Presidio and others are expected to join the Cisco OpenRoaming project to ease customer hops between WiFi, 5G and more.

WiFi 6, 5G and Switching: Market Shifts

The Cisco WiFi 6 and 5G push come at a key time. Amid the networking giant's aggressive push toward recurring revenues and software-driven subscription services, the new hardware products and associated developer tools reinforce a market reality: No single IT consumption model will emerge. Partners will need to deliver blended solutions -- network hardware, software and subscription services -- to drive 5G and WiFi 6 deployments.

SMB and MSP Considerations: Down in the SMB market, Cisco faces new competition from such firms as Datto -- which will surely offer updates on its networking strategy during the DattoCon 2019 conference in June.

Meanwhile, some MSP industry pundits openly wonder if 5G networks will somehow disrupt traditional on-premises networking gear. The thesis: As laptops and smart phones gain 5G chipsets, small businesses may abandon on-premises network switches and routers -- and instead leverage 5G to link to cloud services. Webroot VP David Dufour floated that thesis to ChannelE2E during the RSA Conference back in February.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.