Yesterday, Cisco announced its first series of new Wi-Fi products based on the 6thgeneration Wi-Fistandard: Wi-Fi 6. Just like 5G is a sea change for cellular radio technology that goes beyond faster download speeds, Wi-Fi 6 is about so much more than simply enabling more data. Though data hungry users out there can rest assured that there will be a higher throughput of 3-4 times that of previous generations.

For the first time, Wi-Fi will be able to deliver SLA quality of experience even when a high number of users are connected to the network ensuring a reliable high definition connection for your video conference call or to enabling you to share through social media your favourite football player’s latest goal whilst you are sat in the stadium. Wi-Fi 6’s new capabilities also mean Wi-Fi can support a much broader set of use cases for instance in the IoT space with hundreds of devices per access point reliably connected for low latency and other QoS parameters as relevant.

With these new capabilities Wi-Fi 6 will be a key technology enabler for digitisation of enterprises and vertical industries on par with 5G. 51% of all global IP traffic (fixed and mobile) will be from Wi-Fi in 2022 with more traffic to be offloaded onto Wi-Fi networks from mobile devices than will stay on mobile networks (59%, up from 54% in 2017). As such Wi-Fi and cellular technologies will continue to be complementary and integrate even further providing users with seamless connectivity whether they are at home, work or in transit.

For policy-makers and regulators working to unlock these benefits of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, this means looking beyond the world of licenced spectrum and equally ensuring unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi to ensure the full set of technologies are available to service providers, enterprises and public sector as they look to digitise.

It also means looking at the broadest range of technologies to bring connectivity to all citizens. As we are ushering into the zettabyte and 5G era it is more important than ever that we close the digital divide and design policy to support ubiquitous coverage of high capacity networks. That both includes policies to incentivise private investments as well as measures to ensure rural coverage where the market will not deliver on its own, including through public private partnerships.

Cisco is, for instance, already engaging in partnership with governments and other industry partners in projects such as 5G RuralFirst, demonstrating the potential of 5G and IoT in rural test beds. In another project together with Google, we are using Wi-Fi hotspots to connect communities with limited connectivity around the world to enable them to benefit from the social and economic opportunities of the digital economy.

We’re excited by these new developments and we look forward to be part of the conversations with policy-makers and regulators on creating the regulatory frameworks that keeps us enabling innovation globally.


Cate Nymann

Public Policy Manager

Government Affairs - Belgium