From Dial Up to Wi-Fi 6: Powering Digital Transformation

The history of internet access has been quite remarkable and almost defines the evolution of the joys of the wide world web we commonly refer to as the internet.

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Few can fathom living their lives without the internet and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instant Messaging, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snap chat, Skype, Twitter, YouTube among others. These are just but examples of how we stay connected from the comfort of our spaces regardless of our location thanks to reliable internet connectivity.

The internet has become our new home. We work online, chat online, register companies online, order food and other goods and with COVID 19, meeting online has become a way of life. Currently, a good number of Government and private sector services run online. This is easier to do with high speed internet. But it has not always been this way.

Like many other countries, access to the internet in Kenya began with dial up connections, where you had to use a phone- a landline those days, to access internet through a cable connection. Though quite a nostalgic affair, the dial up connection was slow and mostly used for text-based work such as email or academic research.

Downloading a movie on such a connection would  have been impossible task.  As technology developed, we moved to modems and eventually other forms of high speed broad band connections that are ten to 1000 times faster than the dial up connection. This increased connectivity powered our digital revolution and has made the world a global village.

Today it is normal for people to tether and access the internet using their smart phones as a modem, or hotspot. A more popular option right now is home/work fiber with a variety of different service options from various service providers and other players categorized based on speed and pricing. Most fiber services in our homes and offices are accessed through Wi-Fi a wireless network.

But what is Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology that allows devices such as computers, mobile devices among others to connect to the Internet through a wireless router. Typically, Wi-Fi connections allow internet enabled devices to exchange information with one another, creating a network.

As everything connects to the internet in some way—from computers and smartphones to baby monitors and security cameras, all these devices share bandwidth. Every device on your network decreases your bandwidth by a portion, especially over Wi-Fi. Just like traffic on the highway, during rush hour when there’s a lot of traffic, the cars travel slower than usual. This happens for internet connection. Congestion is caused when everyone in your home or office is accessing the internet at the same time. Add in some lane closures – like older devices running updates or back-ups – and your speed is further reduced.

Wi-Fi has a history of more than 20 years driven by the pursuit for ever increasing bandwidth. In fact, there have been major upgrades to Wi-Fi almost every four to five years, with bandwidth increasing each time.

The latest standard, Wi-Fi 6, is a game changer for enterprises. Wi-Fi 6 powers enterprises forward by dramatically boosting capacity and slashing delay. It offers four times the system capacity of Wi-Fi 5, four times the concurrent access, and the latency is reduced to 10 ms. Wi-Fi 6 is quick and responsive and intended for many users who need lots of bandwidth and a great user experience. With these vastly improved capabilities, Wi-Fi 6 opens up opportunities for business and enterprises to replace wired networks with wireless ones.

Wi-Fi 6 is currently available in Kenya. Globally, Huawei took the lead in deploying the first enterprise-class Wi-Fi 6 network dubbed Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 and which is now ranked number one in the global market (excluding North America) according to a report on the global Wi-Fi 6 market share by Dell’Oro Group, a leading independent market analysis and research firm. Huawei’s AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 offers twice the industry average throughput and is the preferred choice of many enterprise clients seeking reliable internet connectivity.

Given the increased video conferencing demand arising from covid-19 remote working demands, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 enables real-time mobile HD videos and wireless multi-screen interactions in meetings, improving work efficiency and driving innovation.

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 also enables transformative online teaching experiences and improves student learning outcomes. This is done through use of wireless Virtual Reality /Augmented Reality (VR/AR) in the curriculum and is particularly impactful for telemedicine. Training medical professionals is often hindered by the limited number of donated cadavers (bodies), which can’t be reused.

Additionally, the traditional methods to teach anatomy based on 2D contents, where students have to rely on their imagination for graphs and organ structures, have become outdated. None of these problems exist in virtual anatomy labs. In a country like Kenya with 1 doctor for every 16000 patients, Wi-Fi 6 has the potential to power medical personnel training and achievement of the Big 4 Agenda Universal Health Care commitments through telemedicine.

Looking ahead, the future looks bright as Huawei is promising further to carry out joint innovations with its clients and capitalize on Wi-Fi 6 upgrade opportunities to build fully connected, intent-driven on campus networks with AirEngine Wi-Fi 6. With such a network, enterprises can reduce operating costs and improve competitiveness.

 

 

 

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