Networks Europe Issue 19 January/February 2019 - Page 13

OPINION 13 Networking trends 3 big trends to expect in networking By Comtec With a new year upon us, many businesses will be making their plans for the coming 12 months, and in 2019, digital capabilities are set to be a top priority for many organisations. Consequently, networking solutions will be under greater pressure than ever to deliver fast, reliable speeds to more users. However, there will be a range of new technologies and standards to assist with this in the coming year, so what can professionals expect to be on their agenda in 2019? Wi-Fi 6 One of the biggest steps forward for many networking professionals in the coming year will be the emergence of the next generation of wireless technology, in the form of Wi-Fi 6. This standard, also known as 802.11ax, is expected to start appearing on devices in the coming months and promises a significant performance boost over the current 802.11ac, or Wi-Fi 5, which has been in use since 2014. Headline speeds are forecast to be some 40% higher than Wi-Fi 5, but this is just one of the benefits of the technology. Perhaps of greater interest to many users will be its improved ability to operate in crowded areas and serve more devices simultaneously. It does this by dividing wireless channels into a large number of sub-channels, each of which can carry data intended for a different device. This helps to tackle congestion, reduce bottlenecks and ensure that all users can enjoy an uninterrupted signal. In fact, it’s estimated that Wi-Fi 6 will improve average throughput per user fourfold in dense environments. Faster fibre Fixed-line networks in the UK are also expected to deliver improved performance in the coming year as efforts to move away from legacy copper cabling networks gather this year as new technologies and standards come into effect pace. In 2018, the government formally introduced a target of moving the entire country’s infrastructure to full fibre networks by 2033, so much of the work towards this may well start to gather pace in the next 12 months now there’s more support in place. Some firms have already announced large-scale investments, with CityFibre recently committing £2.5 billion to the roll-out of full fibre networks. With the government adding some £200 million to fund full fibre networks in parts of the country that may be otherwise considered too hard to reach and also beginning the process of ensuring that full fibre will be mandatory in all new build properties. This should also help stimulate the deployment of faster fibre technology to more locations in the coming year. An explosion of devices Another key factor that many organisations will have to take into account will be the number of devices needing to connect to networks at any one time. Home and business users alike are likely to see their number of gadgets increase in the coming months, with devices such as smart assistants and automation products controlling the likes of heating and lighting among the most common additions to networks. This is likely to greatly increase the pressure on both wired and wireless networks to deliver fast, reliable connectivity to multiple users without any drop in performance, so improving the available bandwidth of infrastructure is set to be a top priority for networking professionals in the year ahead. With a range of IoT gadgets, mobile devices and other equipment all competing for space, getting all these to work in harmony will be the key to a strong network in 2019 and beyond. n