Choosing the right Wi-Fi 6 access points for your business

Person pointing at a spider graph - choosing Wi-Fi access points
(Image credit: Image Credit: Geralt / Pixabay)

Choosing the right technology that truly fits your business can be daunting. With so many options on the market seeming to do the same thing, how can you be sure you are making the right choice? This is often the case when selecting the appropriate Wi-Fi 6 access points for your business. Offerings across brands often appear to be very similar, and it is hard to distinguish between them – with exciting, eye-catching branding and equally exciting prices to match. As a result, it’s important to read the fine print in great detail and have a clear understanding of what each Wi-Fi 6 access point you’re looking at actually offers.

About the author

Paul Routledge is UK&I County Manager for D-Link.

From lifetime warranties to Wi-Fi standards that enable innovative technologies, it can be helpful to know where the Wi-Fi 6 access points you’re considering might be missing some key details because, in reality, not all of them are the same. Compromising on quality by choosing lower, consumer-grade hardware could cause problems later down the line and run up additional costs, not to mention the impact on customer experience. Here are four key considerations to keep in mind when scouting out the market for Wi-Fi 6 access points:

Assessing quality to avoid increased costs in the long-run

One way to understand the quality a manufacturer is offering is to look into the length of warranty they offer. Short warranties and non-disclosure of mean time between failures (MTBF) can often result in increased costs in the long run.

For Wi-Fi 6 access points, this could mean higher deployment costs because faulty hardware has to be replaced, resulting in a drain on manpower and losses due to downtime. When selecting the Wi-Fi 6 access points for your business, it’s essential to look out for transparency on MTBF. Furthermore, if it comes with a limited lifetime warranty, it means the manufacturer stands by its quality.

Considering design and impact on overall network efficiency

With so many Wi-Fi 6 access points claiming to do the same thing, it can pay off to look into the details, understanding how aspects of the product’s design can influence overall network efficiency and capacity. For example, those that use consumer-grade hardware are likely to cut corners, such as lower speeds on 2.4GHz wireless bands. Many connected devices will experience slower connectivity on that band, and key technology such as MU-MIMO is not supported, affecting your wireless network’s overall speed and efficiency. This, in turn, means they cannot achieve the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ certification.

Ensuring interoperability and backwards compatibility

Wi-Fi certifications prove that Wi-Fi products, such as access points, have undergone rigorous testing to meet industry-agreed standards. If products are not Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™, for example, they do not guarantee interoperability, backwards compatibility and security of Wi-Fi 6. With a growing number of devices expected to enter the market, interoperability will be vital in enabling you to get the most out of your Wi-Fi 6 products. Of course, you need to ensure your existing devices can connect to your upgraded network seamlessly. Any problems with interoperability and backwards compatibility will lead to bad customer experiences and cause more issues for IT management teams to resolve.

Making sure the Ethernet is not choking the Wi-Fi

Many Wi-Fi 6 access points already support multigigabit speeds. Many access points that use low-cost consumer-grade hardware come with gigabit wired interfaces. It means, no matter how fast the Wi-Fi is, it will always be bottlenecked and limited by the wired connection. Choosing access points with a multigigabit wired connection, such as 2.5G Ethernet, will mitigate this issue, allowing the full potential of Wi-Fi 6 to be realized.

To sum up, if you have decided to invest time and money to upgrade your business to Wi-Fi 6, don’t fall into the trap of choosing products simply based on the upfront cost. It is most likely to cost the company more in the long run.

Paul Routledge is County Manager for D-Link.