The WiFi 6 standard, IEEE 802.11ax, is now supplemented by the certification program (issued by the WiFi Alliance, important because it ensures interoperability of devices) and WiFi enabled devices are starting to appear on the market (iPhone 11 and Galaxy S10 have WiFi 6). What is most important is that the new devices coming to the market in the next six months will start embedding WiFi 6. Given the relatively short life time of mass market electronic equipment we can expect a rapid dissemination of WiFi 6.
WiFi 6 is ideally positioned for providing connectivity in “device-dense” environment, like airports, railway stations, malls, stadiums. It uses a 1024-QAM modulation (currently 5G is being deployed with 256-QAM but it will eventually move up to 1024-QAM). What WiFi 6 misses is .. .the network. A partial step in that direction is being made by the NGH – Next Generation Hotspot – Passpoint. A single authentication on a hotspot is sufficient to connect to any hotspot (participating in the network). Clearly this is not providing a global network because there is no WiFi global coverage.
An Operator driven wireless network is still needed for global coverage but in smaller areas WiFi 6 can provide the connectivity and the “experience” of a full fledged wireless network. This was not possible with the previous WiFi standards.
By the end of the next decade WiFi coverage and 5G coverage will be working seamless from the point of view of the end user (and of the terminal). The session management will shift from the network (and the Telco Operator) to the device and it will be this latter that will be selecting, dynamically, the most appropriate (for cost, performance, power use) gateway. This will not be -only- a technical aspect, it will change the business landscape. In the last decade we have seen the emergence of OTT -Over The Top- that steal the delivery of services from the Operators. In the future decades we might be seeing the emergence of an oligopoly of a few global companies that will become global connectivity providers.