How IT networks stand to change in 2019

Wi-Fi 6, 5G, digitized spaces, SD-WAN and machine learning are the main drivers of change in the networking scene.
1 February 2019

Worker in a data center. Source: Shutterstock

The field of networking is always evolving, and the pace is relentless. 2019 is set to be no different, and several emerging technologies will have a fundamental impact on how businesses and employees connect.

According to a blog post by Anand Oswal, Senior Vice President of Engineering in Cisco’s Enterprise Networking Business, the emergence of Wi-Fi 6, 5G, digitized spaces, SD-WAN and machine learning (ML) will play a frontal role in the transformation of IT infrastructure. TechHQ explores these technologies below.

Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is an upgrade on the current highest-speed Wi-Fi protocol, 802.11ac. This new technology brings big gains in efficiency across all Wi-Fi bands, even older 2.4 Ghz frequencies.

It is expected that Wi-Fi 6 will gain a new spectrum in the 6GHz band in 2019 or 2020, thereby bringing with it a speed bump. An increase in the density of devices that co-exist in a single space is perhaps the biggest advantage. It will also increase the speed of all devices in the same locale.

Power utilization of mobile devices is also improved as efficiency levels on any given band are also stepped up.

The 5G promise

The future of 5G will see improved speed and battery life to smartphones and the growth of fixed wireless for residences that will compete with wired broadband services.

It is hoped that the high speed and low latency of these connections will open up new possibilities for IoT (Internet of Things) applications— 5G could allow sensors to run on batteries that will last for years, thanks to its time-saving potential. Oswal thinks that 5G could be extended into a new, lightly-licensed band, Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), that will allow businesses to set up their own completely private 5G data networks.

Digitized Spaces

High-resolution geo-location technologies in mobile devices, working in concert with data mining software, will create opportunities to understand how people and things move through physical spaces.

These digitized spaces will also help network managers to identify weaknesses in their wireless service and allow precise deployment of access points. Analytic engines will also be able to easily detect unusual patterns of movement among wireless devices that could indicate ‘physical breaches’.


More businesses are moving towards software-defined wide area networking, SD-WAN, as it allows networks to route traffic based on centrally-managed roles and rules, from any entry and exit point with full security.

For example, a user working on Office365 can have the SD-WAN route the traffic to the closest cloud data center to improve responsiveness and lower the bandwidth cost for the business. These networks can be run by smaller teams, and machine intelligence can take a hand in network management to further lower bandwidth costs and improve security.

Machine Learning

Companies are expected to adopt artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, ML, to analyze the telemetry for performance optimization, financial efficiency and security. There could be also tools to categorize and cluster device and user types that can spot outlier activities that could indicate security incursions.

The technology is expected to become more proactive and react to situations autonomously. Workable tools are expected to appear later in 2019.