March 6, 2020
Aruba Networks claims that it has delivered the “first and only” family of wireless LAN access points certified as compatible with the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, also known as 802.11ax.
The certification means that the Wi-Fi Alliance, the independent organization that governs wireless networking protocols, has tested all Aruba Wi-Fi 6 WLAN products for compliance with the standard. Wi-Fi 6 network equipment and endpoints that are certified should interoperate together, based on a certification program announced in September. The latest high-end laptops and smartphones – including Apple’s iPhone 11, and Samsung’s Note 10 and the new Galaxy 20 line – now support Wi-Fi 6.
“Aruba leads the industry with the official certification of all the Aruba 500, 510, 530, and 550 Series Wi-Fi 6 access points,” Aruba senior product marketing manager Dave Chen noted in a blog. “Undergoing certification is our commitment to customers that Aruba wireless networks can interoperate with Wi-Fi 6 client devices with no technical impact to your business.”
Aruba, however, didn’t actually launch any new Wi-Fi 6 equipment this week, as the company’s March 5 announcement implied. Rather, the gear certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance applied to Aruba WLAN equipment already shipping for some time, a company spokeswoman confirmed. Some of the WLAN equipment certified this week is relatively new, such as the Aruba 500 series, which the company released in November. Aruba never formally announced the product, according to the spokeswoman.
Effectively, Aruba claims to be the only supplier that can say all of its Wi-Fi 6 products are now certified as interoperable after going through testing by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which may matter to partners that want to assure customers that the gear they’re offering is compatible. Overall, Wi-Fi 6 still only accounts for a minority of wireless LAN products available today. The list of Wi-Fi 6-certfied infrastructure and endpoints started to grow incrementally in January.
As of today, Cisco has the most Wi-Fi 6 certified network products, nine, whereas Aruba has eight, according to a tracker maintained by the Wi-Fi Alliance. Meraki, a Cisco subsidiary that provides network equipment to small and midsize enterprises, also has a portfolio of Wi-Fi 6 gear, with three new models launched last month. As of this week, the Wi-Fi Alliance hasn’t included the new Meraki gear on its list of certified products.
The Wi-Fi Alliance this week also certified gear from Alpha Networks and EnGenius Technologies. Other WLAN suppliers that have successfully undergone Wi-Fi 6 certification include Linksys, Mercury and ZTE.
Certification is important to make sure handsets and access points are interoperable, said Neil Anderson, senior director of network solutions at World Wide Technology, which offers Wi-Fi 6 equipment from several suppliers.
“I think for Wi-Fi 6, the certifying body has taken an additional step to ensure that the OEMs not only comply with the protocols at Layer 1 and 2 but also implement the functionality that is unique to Wi-Fi 6 — like beamforming and wake time,” Anderson said. “This will allow Wi-Fi 6 to get to a fully functional state a lot faster than Wi-Fi 5, which let OEMs roll out capabilities in stages.”
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