Wi-Fi 6 and software-defined LAN capabilities are driving digital transformation, says AT&T
The Wireless Broadband Alliance held its Wireless Global Congress this past week where speakers discussed a number of critical topics relating to Wi-Fi and the future of wireless connectivity, such as OpenRoaming and the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. In one webinar, AT&T’s Assistant Vice President of Global Product Marketing Management Manish Malhotra tackled the topic of how upgrades to LAN architecture, as a result of new wireless technologies, are a key driver behind enterprise digital transformation.
“Most businesses have already deployed wireless LANs in their venues, but we are seeing a wave of upgrades driven by new technologies, such as Wi-Fi 6 and software-defined LAN capabilities,” stated Malhotra. “And increasingly, customers are connecting their IoT devices to the same LAN infrastructure that was traditionally used for employee or guest access.”
He added that AT&T is “very excited” about W-Fi 6, the next-generation of wireless technology that provides higher speeds and capacity and lower latency.
When it comes to software-defined LAN technology, Malhotra said it “enables easy configuration management and overall network management of the LANs [and]provides useful analytics that business can use to gain insights into customer or employee behavior.”
Further, when coupled with SD-LAN, a business’s entire networking infrastructure — both the LAN and the WAN — can undergo a complete transformation.
The businesses most relevant to this discussion are venues such as restaurants, retail outlets, banks, hotels and corporate offices, or as Malhotra put it: “Businesses [that]interact with their customers or where their employees interact with each other.”
As a result, COVID-19 has become a significant roadblock to digital transformation for a number of AT&T’s LAN customers. According to Malhotra, the provider is hearing customers ask questions like “What’s COVID going to do to my business? Should we reduce our physical footprint? Are employees going to continue working from home? Will customers return to a physical store in the future?”
Another potential challenge is one that has always been present, even pre-COVID-19, and that is of course budget.
“One of the biggest roadblocks for enterprises digital transformation is having the budget,” Malhotra said. “The cost of the gear can be quite expensive, especially depending on the [enterprise’s] footprint.”
However, he suggested that this high cost might be worth it, saying, “What we are finding is that businesses that commit themselves to that journey, they reap the benefits of better customers experience and better insights.”