When I was a kid, the future meant flying cars and everyone wearing the same silver jumpsuits. It’s been a few years since I was a kid and while I may not own a flying car, but I don’t have to wear a jumpsuit and working at Cisco allows me to check out all of new innovations that we bring to the world.

With the launch of our newest Catalyst 9100 Access Points, we’re continuing our journey to bring Intent-based Networking to our customers—we’re bringing the future to now. The Catalyst 9100 Access Points are the new addition to the Catalyst family and they’re also our first access points that adhere to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard.

A lot of people have been talking about the future of the network. You may have seen Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins present at this year’s MWC in Barcelona or perhaps you tuned in to our Virtual Event announcing our new Wi-Fi 6 innovations a few days ago.

I know that you’re thinking that this is just another access point that’s meeting another standard, this isn’t flying-car news. And you’re right, it won’t bring you a flying car, but these new devices have greater bandwidth, a more dependable connection to the network and features that will continue to automate your network. These new features are going to allow for a lot of really great uses–and in a lot of ways, that’s better.

How so? How about things such as robots and advanced virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR).

Like some of you, one of my all-time favorite TV shows is the Simpsons. There was a classic episode where Lisa dreamt of the perfect school and in that dream, her teacher told her to put on her virtual reality helmet and travel back in time to days of Genghis Khan. Thanks to the Catalyst 9100 Access Points and the increased bandwidth and strong connection, this won’t be a cartoon fantasy anymore. Students are able to learn by literally immersing themselves in their studies. Whether it’s using AR to go back thousand and reliving a historical battle or delving into a scientific study.

The VR and Wi-Fi 6 partnership isn’t just for pointy haired, second grade geniuses either. Surgeons can employ VR to work on patients at a hospital on the other side of the world. This means that geography and time will no longer be the deciding factors on whether patients get the treatment they need.

To make use of this new technology, you’re going to need a reliable, scalable and secure wireless network that can handle the additional number of devices and the data that they’re going to create. That’s where the Cisco Catalyst 9100 Access Points comes in. These access points are your first step to creating that robust network needed to handle the crush of devices and applications connecting to your network.

Here are some things you can expect:

Enhanced features: Cisco RF ASIC delivers CleanAir, Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS), Dual Filter DFS in addition to Fast Locate and off-channel RRM, which will be available in future releases. The Cisco Catalyst 9100 access points also support Target Wake Time, which is a new power-saving mode allowing the client to stay asleep and to wake at prescheduled times to exchange data with the access point. The energy savings over 802.11n and 802.11ac is significant, with up to three to four times the older standards. In addition, this improves power and battery efficiency in end devices like smartphones, tablets and IOT devices.

Addresses the growing IoT explosion: The Cisco Catalyst 9100 access points provide multi-lingual support and application hosting of IoT protocols such as Wi-Fi, BLE and Zigbee. IoT is more than lights, heating and security cameras. From life-saving medical equipment in hospitals to restocking robots—I told you that there would be robots!—in retail to heavy machinery in manufacturing, all of these devices are considered IoT. Everything is connected and since some of these devices are literally the difference between life and death, they must be always-on. Making sure that this equipment doesn’t have downtime is paramount.

Customizable with a programable RF ASIC: The Catalyst 9120 access point has custom RF ASIC and provides real-time analytics. When combined with Cisco DNA Assurance allows you to gain RF intelligence and visibility that can be analyzed and used to run your network more efficiently. The custom RF ASIC also has a dedicated third radio that is automatically enabled during high density scenarios. This goes along with delivering other features such as RF Interference mitigation and rogue detection.

Reliability: always-connected, always dependable; a seamless experience. The Catalyst 9100 access points have improved roaming features allowing a better Wi-Fi experience. Add Spectrum Intelligence and Interference and Rogue Detection to the reliability mix and you can be sure that your network is clear of any issues that will hinder a seamless connection.

Capacity: Thanks to Wi-Fi 6, there is a reduced latency with 100+ devices communicating at the same time. The Catalyst 9100 access points will also provide support in the future for both OFDMA and MU-MIMO to help to dole out application resources. OFDMA is ideal for low-bandwidth applications and increases efficiency while reducing latency. For high-bandwidth applications, MU-MIMO increases capacity resulting in higher speeds per user. Look at MU-MIMO as multiple trucks serving users simultaneously, while OFDMA is one truck serving each user.

The new Catalyst 9100 access points are poised to take your infrastructure to the next level. And with more devices being added to the network every day, this next level is where you’re going to need to be.

The future is much closer than you think. Outfitting your infrastructure is the best way of bringing the future to now.

For more information, click here.


Greg Dorai

Senior Vice President & General Manager, Cisco Networking Experiences - Campus Connectivity

Networking Experiences