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Next stage of Connectivity

Root Communication Ltd > Next stage of Connectivity

Embracing the next stage of connectivity

Kalam Meah considers how Wi-Fi 7 will enable the education, hospitality and healthcare industries to embrace innovation and deliver improved business outcomes. hotel wifi The arrival of Wi-Fi 7 marks the next stage of wireless connectivity, offering reduced latency, seamless 4K streaming and ultra-fast downloads. The key advantage of Wi-Fi 7 lies in its speeds, capable of reaching up to 46 Gbps – 4.8 times faster than Wi-Fi 6. Where Wi-Fi 6 was built to support the growing number of connected devices used in the home, Wi-Fi 7 is tasked with delivering astounding speeds for these devices with more power and efficiency. This will be pivotal in supporting the growth and implementation of evolving technologies, such as AR and VR, and the Internet of Things (IoT), across the healthcare, education and hospitality industries. As Wi-Fi 7 is still relatively new to the market, not many mainstream devices are currently enabled to support the technology. However, businesses can still embrace Wi-Fi 7 and instead plan for its long-term use within their organisations, as its backward compatibility means users can still connect using older devices. While devices with Wi-Fi 7 support will enjoy all its benefits, older devices can still connect to the Wi-Fi 7 network, albeit at slower speeds, allowing for backwards compatibility with legacy devices in the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz spectrum bands. This flexibility will allow businesses to upgrade their network gradually without requiring the immediate replacement of all their devices, making the transition smoother and more cost-effective. Enhancing healthcare delivery With healthcare services under immense pressure to deliver elective care to a backlog of more than 7 million patients here in the UK, and with staffing issues and strikes adding further complexity into the mix, the healthcare industry is in need of solutions that can support staff to deliver timely and best in class care. Improved connectivity in the healthcare system will support medical professionals and clinicians across diagnosis, treatment and research, as well as innovation adoption. The pandemic demonstrated how non-urgent healthcare can be delivered remotely and online with internet access via computer, tablet, or smartphone. Telemedicine solutions helped alleviate some of the pressures faced by reducing the time spent on face-to-face care. Similarly, remote patient monitoring (RMP) enables virtual monitoring of a patient’s health from their home, again eliminating the need for regular in-person check-ups. A leading challenge here will be ensuring hospitals and managed devices remain connected; the number of IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) in hospitals is projected to exceed seven million by 2026, with more than 3,850 per smart hospital. However, such solutions require a powerful networking infrastructure to ensure secure and seamless transmission of health data between patients’ homes and hospitals. One of the key requirements of these healthcare applications is low latency, where critical health data should be transmitted within the shortest amount of time possible, without drops in connection. Wi-Fi 7 is well positioned to assist here thanks to its integration with IoT-based systems, helping manage congestion and ensure data is transmitted stably on the best channel to bypass delays. Changing the face of the classroom Thanks to its unparalleled speed, reliability and efficiency, Wi-Fi 7 will prove to be a game-changer in education. Whilst internet connectivity and bandwidth have led to connection issues for schools and universities in the past, these new speeds will help students and teachers download and upload large learning resources more quickly, stream videos with fewer lags, and participate in virtual lessons with minimal disruption. High-definition video conferencing and immersive VR experiences will be better supported through advanced technologies like MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output). This delivers improved network efficiency, allowing multiple devices to communicate simultaneously without causing a delay or lack in quality, enhancing the quality of remote and hybrid learning environments. The increased roll out of Smart Schools further establishes the need for more efficient networks. Academic trusts are increasingly adopting a more tech-based ecosystem to improve security, cost and energy efficiency. Many schools are already utilising smart lights and motion sensors to automate lighting in schools, helping reduce energy consumption and save on utility bills. Other IoT devices like smart locks are also being introduced, helping schools limit or extend access instantaneously, protecting students, staff and property when necessary. Through connecting with other security components such as surveillance cameras, access control systems and alarms, IoT devices contribute to a unified ecosystem that provides a more secure and cost-effective solution across the site. Wi-Fi 6 may struggle to effectively support the breadth of these technologies – particularly when combined with the laptops, tablets and smartphones of students and staff. Wi-Fi 7 has five times the network capacity and 480% more throughput than Wi-Fi 6, so is well positioned to help education institutions take strides towards building their own Smart Schools. Bringing hospitality into the new technological age From independent coffee shops to large hotel complexes, customers expect full access to uninterrupted Wi-Fi connectivity. This is also crucial for staff who rely on connectivity for operations like organising bookings, taking payments through point of sale, updating stock lists, and more. For hotels in particular, guests rely on Wi-Fi connections for the entirety of their stay – which can be weeks at a time. Beyond the primary uses for Wi-Fi, like web browsing, streaming, video calling, or remote working, hotels are implementing new technologies to give guests more control and enhanced security through sensors, thermostats and other devices that can be controlled via mobile apps to transform the hotel experience. Many hotels are allowing guests to check themselves in and out via these mobile apps, which proves helpful for guests leaving and arriving late at night or early in the morning, reducing the number of staff required during these hours. Increased bandwidth and multi-channel capabilities will significantly improve hotel connectivity, enabling Wi-Fi 7 to accommodate thousands of connected devices. IT technicians will also benefit from the power and efficiency of Wi-Fi 7 through remote network management – which is particularly useful for large hotel complexes with multiple sites servicing hundreds of access points. By connecting all endpoints to a unified system, technicians can monitor devices and network health, and locate any connectivity issues without needing to visit the site when problems arise. Not ‘if’, but ‘when’ As Wi-Fi 7 continues to evolve and become more established within the mainstream, its potential to revolutionise a range of industries is infinite. As with Wi-Fi 6 before, the technology is going to usher in a completely new era of connectivity. Now is the time for organisations to begin educating themselves on the benefits and possibilities that this technology presents. Whilst Wi-Fi 7 may not be the answer to all business issues, it has the potential to be one of the key building blocks that spearheads innovation helping SMEs and large organisations across all industries improve communications, enhance customer experience, and streamline operations. Industries should look to embrace this opportunity to harness its power to deliver improved outcomes for their customers and stakeholders. Wi-Fi 7 is a catalyst for progress and a bridge to a more connected and efficient future across these diverse sectors.