Steven McWilliams, Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Georgia Hospital Asso
As I’m sure you know, technology is constantly evolving. It seems that, as soon as the latest cutting-edge solution is implemented, three or four more breakthroughs are already coming through right around the corner. This rapid advancement has been somewhat true for wireless technology as well. Various organizations such as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the Wi-Fi Alliance must introduce new standards and protocols to keep up with the changing demands. Every new generation seems to promise faster speeds, improved coverage, increased reliability and enhanced security. This pattern will continue into 2020 with some new opportunities for the enterprise to re-imagine what the strategic plan could be for maximum return on value. It is within this context that I will highlight what we will be talking about in 2020.
5G has hit the scene in a big way. I hear about it from every sector and it seems to be poised as the standard that will take mobile broadband networks to a new level. In the most extreme situations, it will be considered as a viable alternative to standard internet service provider (ISP) provisioning. The benefits of 5G include speeds that will be in the Gbps (billions of bits per second) range, very low latency, and greater capacity. The challenge for 5G is in the fact that we are still in the very early stages of deployment, with some of the earliest adopters just now installing their infrastructure. Other challenges for 5G maybe its cost of deployment or consumption pricing model. It could be expensive to retrofit previously installed hardware and software to make an organization5G-ready. However, I do expect that as time goes by, the market will adjust, decreasing costs. If 5G can quickly get a foothold in more rural areas, I would like to see healthcare and education be some of the biggest winners this round.
Wi-Fi has also undergone some recent changes. With the rebranding of the iterative naming scheme and recently released 6th generation Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), we again see improved efficiency and speeds and the enhancement on the router side for multi-user, multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO)technology. I am still curious if Wi-Fi 6will be advantageous enough to the point where we will see a sweeping migration of upgrades. I believe the earliest adopters maybe those organizations that forecast a significant influx of wireless devices on the network or need to alleviate wireless congestion. If you just upgraded to Wi-Fi 5(802.11ac) within the last year or two, you may find yourself waiting before justifying the cost to upgrade. I believe Wi-Fi 6will continue to evolve and be the main wireless networking technology being discussed for your local area network (LAN)projects in 2020.
I would like to hear more about Long-Range and Inductive Wireless Power and options to deploy within the enterprise. With communications and data going wireless, it seems inevitable that power within the enterprise would have taken strides down the wireless route as well. With phones and tablets taking advantage of the Qi wireless power, I hope to see further development that allows for bigger devices. I imagine one day it will be very common to wirelessly power laptops, monitors, speakers, office phones, and printers on your desk through special spots that provide power to the devices without the need for additional cables. 2020 may be the year we increase conversations around this topic and see more options emerge.
As we enter the new year, these are the topics I expect the information technology world will be buzzing about. Wires have their place, but 2020 will be the year of wireless. What other wires may be going away? We have made much progress over the last 20 years, and I expect even more to come. 2020 is just the beginning.