May 15 2024

Three Factors to Consider for a Successful Wi-Fi 6E Transition

Wi-Fi 6E comes with a lot of benefits for healthcare organizations. But before health IT teams upgrade to the new wireless standard, they should know how to fully maximize it.

Wi-Fi 6E, an extension of Wi-Fi 6, comes with several benefits for healthcare organizations, including faster speeds, lower latency and increased network security. Network modernization can support the rising number of Internet of Medical Things devices, mobile devices and cloud migrations that are putting more strain on existing network infrastructure.

However, before healthcare IT teams begin a modernization project, it’s important that they ensure their infrastructure and IT ecosystem are compatible with the new wireless standard. Here are some factors healthcare organizations should consider before making the transition to Wi-Fi 6E.

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Assess Your Infrastructure’s Compatibility with Wi-Fi 6E

Just as quarterbacks throw the ball better in fair weather than in a raging blizzard, the performance you get from Wi-Fi 6E will depend on the environment it’s in. Unless your infrastructure is optimal, your performance won’t be. So, it's vital to assess the current infrastructure’s ability to support Wi-Fi 6E, as upgrading will require compatible routers, access points and devices.

According to an HP blog post, “Integrating older standard Wi-Fi devices and applications is possible with Wi-Fi 6, but not 6E. It may take some time before the majority of Wi-Fi-enabled devices are 6E compatible. Until then, the range that Wi-Fi 6 delivers is beneficial for most devices that are likely legacy Wi-Fi 4 or 5 devices.”

Healthcare IT leaders also need to ensure that the network architecture is compatible with Wi-Fi 6E’s 6-gigahertz frequency band. These networks need to support higher data rates and more wireless devices, and deliver a more reliable and efficient wireless experience for users.

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Run a Cost-Benefit Analysis Before Making the Switch

Wi-Fi 6E offers numerous advantages, but making the switch can be expensive. To justify the ROI on an upgrade to the expanded standard, healthcare IT leaders should perform a cost-benefit analysis.

Often, the overall cost depends on the strength and capability of a healthcare organization’s current infrastructure. For example, is the organization able to keep any of its current devices? Will it have to undergo a complete device overhaul? How much will it cost to make the requisite tweaks to an organization’s network architecture?

Balance those costs with the financial savings that Wi-Fi 6E can bring. For instance, immediate savings can stem from the increased efficiency and productivity the enhanced standard provides, which could help recoup some of the $8.8 trillion in global productivity losses each year. Wi-Fi 6E can also help future proof the arrival of Wi-Fi 7 and 8. Organizations may experience additional savings in the long term as they don’t need to completely retool their infrastructure for future networks.

READ MORE: What is Wi-Fi 6E’s role in the future of networking?

Comply with Wi-Fi 6E Regulations

Because Wi-Fi 6E operates in the 6GHz frequency band, there may be different regulatory restrictions or licensing requirements in some regions, as outlined by the Federal Communications Commission. Further, spectrum usage is often affected with 6E implementation — adding a new frequency band requires adding a new radio, which means swapping dual-band APs for tri-band APs — and there also may be various local regulations that impact how healthcare organizations go about making these changes.

The bottom line: Rather than transition to Wi-Fi 6E simply to keep up with the competition, healthcare IT leaders should consider these factors and decide if the upgrade is right for their organization.

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