Linksys has released findings from a commissioned Wi-Fi study of channel partners that service small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), a leading analyst firm. The IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Linksys, "The Wave 2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Opportunity for Channel Partners," highlights the gap between IT channel firms' current Wi-Fi offerings and small businesses' needs of supporting a mobile workforce. According to the IDC InfoBrief, channel IT companies need to rethink their SMB Wi-Fi offerings to include 802.11ac Wave 2 gear.
"Small businesses consider Wi-Fi integral to their operations and have made it the default network for employee and business connectivity, but many are hampered by old equipment that is more than 8 years old," said Wayne Newton, director of B2B channel sales, Linksys. "They're waiting for the next generation of Wi-Fi technology while missing out on the performance and reliability of what is already available – 802.11ac Wave 2 and MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple Output) technology. Channel Partners have a huge opportunity to provide SMBs with updated Wi-Fi hardware that is future-proofed and provides a better workplace experience."
"Small businesses are increasingly frustrated and want to address slow wireless network connection speeds, coverage gaps, and security concerns," said Ray Boggs, vice president, Small and Medium Business Research at IDC. "And they feel the connectivity strain of supporting more and more mobile devices even as they benefit from a more productive workforce. We expect the improved performance of MU-MIMO hardware will naturally appeal to small businesses across industries as they expand and upgrade their wireless networks."
Key insights from the IDC InfoBrief include:
Major Increase Expected in Small Business Wi-Fi Connected Devices
Four out of five channel partners expect a 25 percent increase in 2017 in the number of Wi-Fi connected devices used by their small business customers, and most of these devices are expected to be Wave 2 with MU-MIMO support.
MU-MIMO Opportunity Exists for Channel Partners that Service SMBs
Almost half of partners who focus on small business customers (and more than a third that serve small businesses as well as large customers) say their small business customers are using wireless technology that is eight years old and older.
Almost 50 percent of channel partners surveyed expect most of their SMB customers will upgrade access points, devices, or routers to 11ac in the next 12 months.
Approximately 70 percent of channel partners consider themselves knowledgeable about Wave 2 and MU-MIMO while only 35 percent have the technology as part of their portfolio.
MU-MIMO Positions Channel Partners for Growth
Nearly nine out of 10 survey respondents noted that their ability to deliver advanced Wi-Fi technology including MU-MIMO is important or very important in positioning them as providers of advanced technology to small business customers.
The increased number of wireless devices in the office, as well as the proliferation of IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M), requires a high performance, state-of the art network. 11ac Wave 2 is currently the fastest, most robust version of Wi-Fi and is becoming the new standard. Growth of IoT in small and medium-sized businesses and their use of outdated technology create new revenue opportunities for channel IT companies.
Newton continued, "Channel IT companies are not aligning their Wi-Fi offerings, specifically Wave 2 and MU-MIMO gear, to small business networking needs, and as a result are limiting their capacity to acquire new customers and upgrade current businesses to allow for new use cases. There is a big opportunity for the channel to educate their SMB customers about how Wave 2 boosts performance and takes Wi-Fi to the next level."
With MU-MIMO, the entire office can simultaneously video conference, download large e-mail attachments and media content, sync large files from local fileservers or cloud storage service, stream presentations – without lag or buffering. The enhancements in Wave 2 empower wireless LANs beyond the performance ceilings in legacy 802.11a/b/g/n deployments.
A pioneer of MU-MIMO products, Linksys represents the largest and broadest portfolio of MU-MIMO home Wi-Fi solutions on the market and incorporating the technology into its business-class wireless access points. In May 2016, Linksys was the first to market a small business access point supporting MU-MIMO technology, which helps improve overall performance and efficiency of a Wi-Fi network while providing dedicated bandwidth to MU-MIMO capable client devices as if they have their own dedicated access point. Legacy devices in the office can take advantage of MU-MIMO with the Linksys USB MU-MIMO Adapter.