Matrix-NDI Telecom 10 Podcast 7: Wi-Fi Basics

In this episode of our Telecom 10 podcast, we’re speaking again with Matrix-NDI Account Executive, Vlad Novosad, discussing the basics of Wi-Fi, the different types of wireless networks, and Wi-Fi 6.


Tana Larsen (00:01): 

Hello, and welcome back to the Telecom 10 with Matrix-NDI. My name is Tana, and today we have Vlad with us again to chat about wireless networks and the importance of them in the workplace. Welcome back, Vlad. 

Vlad Novosad (00:13): 

Hey, Tana, thanks for having me again. This is gonna be a really fun topic this time. Wi-Fi, huh? 

Tana (00:18): 

Yep. So we're gonna dive right into the world of wireless networks. Obviously a big topic. So we're probably gonna have to have a couple of, or a couple of episodes to cover this. But let's start out small, dive into different types of wireless networks that you'll see in the wild, like public-private guest networks. So, Vlad, why don't you just take that and kind of explain the difference between those three. 

Vlad (00:40): 

Yeah, absolutely. So those are the simplest, and we'll try to keep the acronyms kind of mild here. Let's start out with the private, you know, private network is gonna be your corporate network or your ultra secure network that you would have in your office where it will have little bit more regulations configured for just the maximum security of not losing any data, of not having anybody steal passwords, so on and so forth. It is usually gonna be limited to what you can do on it as well. You know, maybe you won't be able to Yahoo or game on it. But at the same time, it's gonna keep everything secure and more importantly, everything flowing more freely so you're not using up that bandwidth. And then you're gonna have a guest network, a guest network gonna have for separation, for security. 

Vlad (01:21): 

So you can have a completely different configuration and completely different rule set for people who are not employees where they can still access internet, still do their functions, and you're not risking or having any liability of them being on your private network and sharing data and so on and so forth. And public, public can be viewed a couple of different times. You have your public Wi-Fi that you would find at major stadiums or cities will offer public Wi-Fi. In some cases, larger buildings like Nick Fifth for example, will offer public Wi-Fi. That's typically managed with somebody as well. 

Tana (01:54): 

Okay. So a lot of times you, you see that guest networks have a password. Is there any specific reason why those are password protected? Because if it's a guest network, you'd think, Hey, just want anyone to jump on it. But you have, if you're at a coffee shop or something, you always see it has a password posted on the wall or something. 

Vlad (02:10): 

Yeah, absolutely. Majority of the reason for the password was initially to accept the terms and conditions. But at the same time, you also want to be able to manage the users and be able to manage on who's, who's on there and easily kick that user with that MAC address, or maybe even prevent somebody outside of your establishment, logging into your network. But yeah, passwords are extremely important. In some cases, you'll even see splash pages that will come up having you accept those terms and agreements or, you know, having you check off that you're gonna be a responsible adult user on the internet. 

Tana (02:40): 

Okay, that makes sense. So now that we've kind of, you know, defined what those three networks are, why don't we talk a little bit about how IT infrastructure ties into wireless? 

Vlad (02:51): 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's a, that's a topic of its own. There's so many pieces and moving facets that, that encompass just the basic use of hopping on the web and finding out who won the Timberwolves match. You know, and it kind of starts out with your routers, your firewalls, your switches, the internet bandwidth now plays a role and all of that has to be controlled. The traffic has to be controlled, has to be monitored, and it has to have performance for everything else to still run. So there's a lot of moving parts in the equipment themselves that have to be configured just for you to be able to log in, type in that password and check out a website. 

Tana (03:28): 

Okay. I like the plug for the Timberwolves there. <Laugh> 

Vlad (03:32): 

<Laugh>. You're welcome. 

Tana (03:32): 

But so basically you're saying that like the IT infrastructure, that's kind of, that's the highway. So, you know, if you're, you're perusing the internet, you know, you're the car, you know, you're driving down the highway, but you can't really reach your destination without the highway, right? 

Vlad (03:46): 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there's the, there's multiple highways even at that, right? You have one highway with four, five lanes. You have another highway that has 20 that has 60, so on and so forth. And that, that traffic plays a very, very important role to your everyday productivity. You know, if you open up all the lanes for everybody to hop on and just watch 4K videos, you might not be able to make that phone phone call with video that's not choppy. So it's important to have that harbor be not just up to date, but also configure to support productivity first. 

Tana (04:15): 

And that's touching on bandwidth a little bit, correct? 

Vlad (04:17): 

Yep. Yep. 

Tana (04:18): 

Okay. So that kind of ties well into what, where we're going next here, and that's kind of some trends regarding wireless networks. So we're hearing a lot about, you know, Wi-Fi 6, right? 

Vlad (04:27): 

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, 

Tana (04:28): 

That's kind of the new, the new thing. I mean, we're hearing about Wi-Fi 7 at this point, but we're currently implementing Wi-Fi 6. So how common would you say it is to actually have Wi-Fi 6 in the workplace or the home? 

Vlad (04:41): 

You know what, it's a hit or a miss. It's a pretty easy implementation to upgrade to the Wi-Fi 6. But we have to keep in mind that Wi-Fi 5 has been around for almost two decades. So everybody's more than comfortable and configuring it and securing it and understanding how the protocols work and it, it encompasses other services like the SD-WAN and the Quality of Service so well that, jumping over to the Wi-Fi 6, there's a lot of unknown. But it is becoming a trend that it's a necessity. You look at your average company right now, they not only want to save money, but they want to have the ability to scale kind of like what we did with COVID very rapidly. And scaling very rapidly usually has a big cost. And this is where Wi-Fi 6 is a big benefit because it is scalable, backwards and forwards in both technology and in quality. 

Tana (05:30): 

Okay, that makes sense. So making the jump, I mean, obviously connecting to the internet is, it looks kind of the same from an end user perspective, right? Like I get on my phone, I hop on Instagram, or I get on a, you know, zoom call or whatever. For me, it looks the same. Does it look similar in the background or is, is it just the hardware that's different is the configuration? But I mean, how, what is the difference really? 

Vlad (05:54): 

The big difference is gonna be the, the security and the quality that you can now achieve, right? So when you look at the older standards, and we'll say like Wi-Fi 5 as an example or 4, or even when you had multiple users and say a hundred devices in a network that supported a thousand, it didn't make an impact. But all of a sudden now we have more than a thousand devices and that is playing an impact and a role on if you can make that teams call or if you can answer that zoom call with video without having to hiccup. And that's one of the advantages of the Wi-Fi 6 is it's allowing you to have that higher performance, that higher capacity lower latency. There's a million different benefits behind it and why it makes sense, and this is why enterprises are taking this little bit more serious this time around. It's kind of like a shift of the old equipment where we had network switches that did 10 meg or a hundred meg, now they're doing a hundred or a thousand. Now it's a thousand or 10,000. We're kind of in that realm right now. 

Tana (06:45): 

Okay. That makes sense. So obviously more and more providers are kind of jumping on the Wi-Fi 6 train. From a hardware and equipment perspective, who are some of the providers out there offering Wi-Fi 6? 

Vlad (06:58): 

Yeah, all of all of your major hardware providers are gonna be there. So you're gonna have the Cisco Meraki, the, the Commscopes, the Extreme Networks, the Fortinets, the Arubas, the Junipers, and they're all having that same exact standard for the big reason of why Wi-Fi 6 is better than Wi-Fi 5, right? And there's a ton of them, and it's gonna be from the security standpoint, the multi-form factor authentication, the encryption process, the latency, the power consumption, and battery life is a big topic that nobody talks about on how much your wifi is draining your battery on your cell phone. Well now you have your cell phone, your Apple watch, your laptop and your mobile, right? So Wi-Fi 6, having to address that is one of those minute things that you don't see that these other providers and carriers are looking at it like, "Wait, hold on a second, we could be a lot more efficient with all the equipment that we have now and futureproof it." 

Tana (07:48): 

So yeah, that makes sense. So as far as the standard, right, so Wi-Fi 6 has been called the standard for Wi-Fi. Is that going to jump to Wi-Fi 6 or is Wi-Fi 6 already considered the new standard, quote, unquote? 

Vlad (08:03): 

No, Wi-Fi 6 is pretty much a new standard at this point. The reason say pretty much cuz there's always expansions to the Wi-Fi and to the securities. So some of like the key differences that from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6, that jumped over from the security protocols, from the frequency bands and being backwards compatible. If you look at Wi-Fi 5, you had a separate band for a 2.4 gig network and a 5 gig network. Wi-Fi 6 works with both of them. So now if you have an older device, a newer device, and a newer yet with that same login, you just log into one network. So now you're not only eliminating the need of having to reconnect to 2.4 on one device and a five on another, just something as simple as better latency for better video calls. 

Tana (08:45): 

Okay, that makes sense. So as far as managing this hardware I think you've mentioned in offline conversations that it's a lot easier to manage Wi-Fi 6 hardware and expand it versus the older generations of wireless. 

Vlad (09:01): 

Yeah, absolutely. So I mean, there's, there's always that big conundrum of do you wanna manage it locally and do you wanna have somebody locally manage your connections and monitor who's using what and report all that data or do you want to do it in the cloud? Well, everybody's migrating to some sort of a cloud solution if not a full cloud solution. So now we have to look at all the applications that are sitting on the edge and how we manage those applications and how we manage the quality of service on the priority of those applications. So I think having Wi-Fi 6 be able to accommodate more devices is gonna be easier to manage all those apps at the end that's in the cloud. 

Tana (09:40): 

Okay. Awesome. Well, we are out of time today. Next time around, we will continue this topic since obviously we've gone over some very high-level big topics here today. But thanks for tuning into this episode of the Telecom 10 with Matrix-NDI. Thanks for joining us again today, Vlad. 

Vlad (09:55): 

I look forward to talking again. Thanks Tana. 

Tana (09:57): 

Yep. And if you'd like to learn more about Matrix-NDI, you can find our website at, or you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the handle @matrix_ndi. Thank you.

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