Today Cisco announced new hardware for the next generation of Wi-Fi standards, giving a core part of its $28.2 billion infrastructure business a refresh and in the process aiming to garner more software revenue.
Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax), is the new standard for Wi-Fi networks. Cisco is also extending its campus networking portfolio by delivering a campus core switch purpose-built for cloud-scale networking. By coupling automation and analytics software with an array of next-generation switches, access points, and controllers for the campus, Cisco enables an end-to-end, wireless-first architecture.
Built on the same wireless innovations as 5G, Wi-Fi 6 is significantly faster than the previous generation, delivering up to 400 percent greater capacity and is more effective in high-density settings like large lecture halls, stadiums and conference rooms. Latency is vastly improved, allowing for near real-time use cases. Wi-Fi 6 is also easier on connected devices’ batteries.
Cisco is rolling out several products:
- Wi-Fi 6 Access Points: New access points across the Catalyst and Meraki portfolios offer custom, programmable chipsets and access to analytics capabilities. The new access points are also multilingual, with the ability to communicate with multiple IoT protocols, including BLE, Zigbee, and Thread.
- Core Switch for the Campus Network: Cisco's Catalyst 9600 core switch family will serve as the foundation central to any network’s operation.
- New Developer Resources: Cisco is unveiling the DevNet Wireless Dev Center. DevNet, Cisco’s developer network, offers the learning labs, sandboxes and developer resources needed to create wireless applications. The Cisco Catalyst and Meraki access platforms are open and programmable all the way down to the chipset level.
- New Ecosystem Partnerships: Prior to the launch of its Wi-Fi 6 access points, Cisco completed interoperability testing with Broadcom, Intel and Samsung to address the gaps that come with a new standard. Samsung, Boingo, GlobalReach Technology, Presidio and others are expected to join the Cisco OpenRoaming project to solve one of today’s biggest wireless pain points. The Cisco OpenRoaming project aims to make it easier to hop between Wi-Fi and LTE networks and onboard public Wi-Fi.
The Meraki and Catalyst Access Points and Catalyst 9600 are available to order today.
The Wi-Fi 6 standard is expected to roll out by 2022.
Cisco controls about 45 percent of the market for corporate Wi-Fi systems according to research firm IDC.