2022 Wireless Predictions

Top 5 Networking Trends for 2022

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By: Stuart Strickland, Fellow, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

With a new year upon us, we no longer anticipate a return to “normal” and must prepare ourselves to respond to constantly changing requirements. For the Aruba 2022 Wireless Predictions, we’ve highlighted trends that may help IT leaders looking for new ways to support accelerated digital transformation and achieve greater flexibility:

  1. 10 million enterprise Wi-Fi 6E APs will be installed in 2022
  2. Wi-Fi infrastructure becomes location aware
  3. The rise of the contextually-wireless network
  4. Built-in AI doubles efficiency, while lowering costs
  5. Enterprises get their first taste of Private 5G

Top Five 2022 Wireless Predictions

Prediction 1: 10 million enterprise Wi-Fi 6E APs will be installed in 2022

2021 was a year of regulatory approvals, paving the way for 2022 to become the year of large-scale enterprise adoption. Wi-Fi 6E represents the single largest allocation of unlicensed spectrum in history. Enterprises can look forward to a massive increase in capacity and wider channel bandwidths in dense deployments. We expect to see accelerated rollouts take advantage of this new, clean spectrum by segregating traffic according to quality-of-service requirements – allocating 2.4 GHz for IoT, 5 GHz for legacy devices and guest traffic, and reserving 6 GHz for new, bandwidth-intensive, and latency-sensitive applications like high-definition video or healthcare imaging. Expect to see 10 million or more Wi-Fi 6E APs in the field worldwide by year end to meet these needs.

picture1 Aruba

Forty-seven countries across the globe representing more than 1.4 billion people have opened 6 Ghz spectrum for Wi-Fi, with more on the way. 

Prediction 2: Wi-Fi infrastructure becomes location aware

Indoor location accuracy has been a persistent challenge. Advances in Wi-Fi Fine Time Measurement (FTM) and scalable approaches to determining access point reference locations promise to enable new client services, enrich network analytics tools, and enhance quality of service.

As helpful as Bluetooth beacons have been as an effective (if costly and labor-intensive) stopgap method to enable indoor location applications, FTM, built into the Wi-Fi infrastructure, will emerge in 2022 as a highly scalable alternative, quickly becoming the dominant basis for accurate and ubiquitous indoor location. Overlay deployments of arduously surveyed beacons, whether physical or “virtual,” will die out, saving network administrators time, money, and headaches, and every Wi-Fi network will deliver accurate location information as easily as it has delivered access to data.

Prediction 3: The rise of the contextually-wireless network 

Solving strategic business problems – whether through enhancing productivity, improving efficiency, ensuring safety, promoting loyalty, or providing comfort – requires more than connecting network traffic.

These solutions require contextual knowledge, environmental awareness, and the ability to make projections of future scenarios. The network infrastructure will become a sponge for contextually significant data, including location, identity, applications in use, and security posture.

As networks connect, protect, and analyze the interactions among devices, people, and their environments, the results of their analysis will be shared across business applications, enabling use cases far removed from wireless connectivity, but again based entirely on familiar and widely deployed wireless networks.

We predict that 2022 will see the ascendance of hyper-aware Wi-Fi access points as hubs for an array of sensors and radios supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) and Operational Technology (OT), accessing powerful analytics engines, both locally and in the cloud, that fuse device data and context to create value and solve real problems for businesses and their customers.

Prediction 4: Built-in AI doubles efficiency, while lowering costs

As cloud-managed networking adoption grows, the ease with which infrastructure and client telemetry can be collected and used to gain insights will fundamentally change how organizations view their data and their network architecture. Aruba predicts that with more built-in AI across entire organizations, businesses will increase the efficiency with which they move from insights to actions and results by 50 percent or more. 

A new wave of AIOps capabilities will extend AI’s value from purely network troubleshooting to providing visibility into client behavior on a global scale, optimizing networks, (wireless, wired or SD-WAN) and enhancing user experience.

Prediction 5: Enterprises get their first taste of Private 5G

2022 will be the year when 5G slips out of the hands of mobile network operators and becomes a viable technology for private enterprise networks. In the US, the CBRS spectrum available for private use will see its first 5G radios, offered in form factors that allow them to be deployed as easily as a Wi-Fi access point and with core networks scaled to the needs of the enterprise. Similarly, in countries throughout the world, spectrum is being allocated specifically for private enterprise use. Private 5G will be deployed in conjunction with Wi-Fi to support use cases that require dedicated, clean spectrum or continuous, wide-area outdoor coverage. No longer will enterprises have to wait for mobile network operators to deliver long-promised private 5G services.

Keys to Success in 2022

Over the past year or two, networking professionals and business leaders have learned to navigate extreme unpredictability. In 2022, they will be able to shift their attention from keeping the lights on to building new opportunities-based compelling technologies such as Wi-Fi 6E and private 5G. They will extract more value from their wireless investments by taking advantage of the new location and contextual awareness of their respective networks. All of this will allow them to envision a future in which they can develop entirely new services and insights in support of emerging business objectives.

Learn more about Wi-Fi 6E in the Technical Guide to Wi-Fi 6E and the 6GHz Band and the emergence of the Multi-RAN enterprise.


Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.