5 Networking Challenges Facing MSPs
In the past few years, new technologies have put more and more pressure on the IT infrastructure of small to medium-sized businesses and thus, the managed service providers that serve them.
Consider the growth of “connected things” — those devices that connect to networks via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or cellular carriers. Reports show that Amazon and Google have sold more than 45 million Alexa and Google Home devices, and that’s only a fraction of the total number of connected things on the market. Combine that with the growth of commercial solutions including merchandise tracking, occupancy sensors and location tracking devices and it’s easy to see how the connected world is rapidly expanding. With the number of connected devices growing exponentially, more pressure is put on the network, and that pressure is being felt by MSPs.
Here’s a closer look at five networking challenges MSPs should be prepared for in the coming year.
Wi-Fi 6 is coming: Like a fine wine, Wi-Fi gets better with age. Think back to your first time connecting with 802.11b. It was cool but likely wasn’t a fun experience. But as Wi-Fi matures, we get new innovations and technologies that have now become so pervasive we can no longer live without them.
The newest iteration of this technology represents Wi-Fi’s sixth “birthday,” and it’s a natural progression for connectivity. Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) delivers the fastest throughput ever, combined with the density to handle even more devices in a connected workplace. Wi-Fi 6 delivers performance boosts over previous Wi-Fi specs and will quickly become the standard for wireless connectivity.
MSPs must prepare their SMB customers who find themselves having to comply with yet another standard. Remember when 802.11ac was introduced? Most cell phones and laptops didn’t support the new “standard” and SMBs found themselves wondering if upgrading was a good idea. These same companies will be uncertain about Wi-Fi 6 and what disruptions that might bring to their business. Therefore, it’s crucial that MSPs work with their clients to develop a strategic plan for migration and to ensure each client is ready for what’s coming.
Expansion of 3.5-GHz spectrum and LTE capabilities: The new 3.5-GHz CBRS spectrum will accelerate the growth and advancement of LTE services, expanding last-mile solutions between carriers and small businesses. CBRS, or Citizens Broadband Radio Service, also shows promise in enabling more effective service delivery inside commercial buildings and campuses, a development that will surely create competition with Wi-Fi services over local area networks. As with the emergence of Wi-Fi 6, this change in bandwidth frequency will require time for businesses to adopt and deploy.
But be warned: The authorization of use of the 3.5-GHz spectrum simply enables new options that are not well-defined today. You should expect carriers and hardware manufacturers to move quickly to define standards within that frequency. There will certainly be innovation, and with it, complexity and confusion in the process. As with Wi-Fi 6, be cautious and learn all that you can. Pay attention to …