Organizations are preparing for a digital future faster than ever before. More than half a million customers, including a majority of the Fortune 100, have now modernized their networks with Cisco Meraki. Cloud-management has created a fundamental shift away from on-site controllers, time-consuming troubleshooting, and complex security to a model that can be operated 100% remotely. To help organizations on this journey, we are doubling the size of our Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ family by releasing three new Wi-Fi 6 access points, adding enhanced troubleshooting capabilities, and additional security features.
The new Meraki Wi-Fi 6 Family
New Wi-Fi 6 access points
Organizations are experiencing increases in the use of bandwidth-hungry mobile video conferencing, Wi-Fi calling, and mobile device use. Wi-Fi 6 helps to deliver these mobile experiences seamlessly, and now Meraki can deliver Wi-Fi 6 both indoors and outdoors.
We are happy to announce three new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ ruggedized and external antenna access points to deliver the newest Wi-Fi 6 standard to outdoor areas, and focused coverage areas. The MR46E, MR76, and MR86 join the MR36, MR46, and MR56 to offer screaming fast, high-performance Wi-Fi 6 everywhere.
MR46E, MR76, and MR86 Highlights
All three models are Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™, supporting high-density features such as MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and power saving features such as target wake time (TWT). They all feature a quad-radio architecture with 2.4 GHz, 5GHz, security scanning, and IoT radios.
MR86 is an IP67 rated, rugged 4×4:4 Multigigabit access point, with a 3.5 Gbps max data rate for high-density outdoor environments
MR76 is an IP67 rated, rugged outdoor 2×2:2 access point with 1.7 Gbps max data rate
The MR46E is a 4×4:4 Multigigabit access point, 3.5 Gbps max data rate, with automatically-detectable external antennas. MR46E can re-use the same external antennas as MR53E.
The new outdoor access points enable organizations to extend Wi-Fi beyond current dense indoor areas. Retail shops or schools may be wanting to offer more Wi-Fi outdoors to accommodate social distancing. MR46E is able to offer focused wireless coverage, using directional antennas, for warehouses or manufacturing plants with high ceilings, or hospitals and schools with long hallways.
Simplifying wireless troubleshooting
As discussed in a recent blog post, Meraki dramatically simplifies the ability to troubleshoot a network from end-to-end. We are now excited to release deeper insights and analytics into wireless performance metrics. With historical color-coded performance metrics for signal quality and wireless latency, identifying and correlating problems has never been easier.
Want to know how your CEO’s Wi-Fi was performing today, yesterday, or even weeks ago? Want to know the impact a configuration change had on wireless latency or signal quality at one of your remote locations? It’s now all at your fingertips with expanded Meraki Health statistics.
Client Health Signal Quality
By deliveringCisco security technologies from the cloud, Meraki helps organizations get back to what they do best. The newest wireless firmware release includes security capabilities to help secure their networks.
Adaptive Policy is now available on Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 access points, to help simplify policy administration using SGTs (Secure Group Tags). Profiling users, devices, services, and setting time of access has never been easier.
Identity PSK is now available without the need for a RADIUS server. IoT devices can be authenticated using the Meraki cloud.
WPA3 is now available across Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 access points, which enables higher levels of encryption and more robust password-based authentication. This will be a welcome upgrade for organizations with sensitive data such as financial services and healthcare organizations.
New firmware upgrade option
To help simplify firmware upgrades, Meraki has released a new upgrade strategy to minimize client downtime. The network never has to go offline during a firmware upgrade, minimizing impact on end-users and devices are minimized during the upgrade. This new upgrade strategy option helps minimize disruption to mission critical wireless networks such as manufacturing, healthcare, warehouses, and airports.
As we enter the middle of 2020, the year is shaping up to be an interesting one for Wi-Fi. With the explosion in remote work, we have seen increases in both video collaboration and Wi-Fi calling. On April 1st, AT&T saw an increase of 105% above average Wi-Fi calling. WPA3, the next generation of Wi-Fi security, is rolling out to deliver better encryption for sensitive data. Wi-Fi 6 continues to proliferate as new Wi-Fi 6 clients, such as the 2020 iPad Pro, enter the market.
To take full advantage of the new Wi-Fi trends and new clients in 2020, a Wi-Fi 6 network infrastructure needs to be in place. Deploying Wi-Fi 6 access points will ensure 802.11ax clients experience high-quality and low-latency performance.
Official Wi-Fi 6 certification
The MR36, MR46, and MR56 have now received official certification status for Wi-Fi 6 from the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Whether you are on a call or video conference, Wi-Fi 6 can help enable high levels of efficiency and low latency. OFDMA and MU-MIMO in both the uplink and downlink direction help support a multitude of devices with up to 75% lower latency. While working from home over a secure Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access point, you can experience seamless video conferencing or VoIP calls, while your family watches Netflix in the next room. Hospitals and financial services organizations can offer critical connectivity while supporting the highest security standards, with WPA3.
To hear more about recent Meraki Wi-Fi updates, listen in to episode 22 of Meraki Unboxed, which discusses:
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
For the 119th U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach, Cisco delivered the most connected U.S. Open in history. With over 200,000 expected in attendance, the USGA wanted to provide new ways for fans to consume and share content, both on-site and around the world. As 156 golfers and hundreds of thousands of fans walked the course, Meraki provided first of its kind, course-wide Wi-Fi. This included wireless for indoor, outdoor, and the first-ever test of Wi-Fi 6 access points at a major sporting event.
“For the first time ever, thanks to Cisco, we had the confidence that our fans would be able to stay connected to all the action inside the ropes and with friends and family back home no matter where they went on the course.” – Amanda Weiner, Senior Director, Digital Media, USGA
Hundreds of access points were deployed in a matter of days to blanket an ultra high density environment, and close to 39TB of internet traffic was transferred during the event. 70,000 unique clients roamed across the four-mile long Pebble Beach course, during a nationally televised event with 32 million people watching.
While Meraki Access Points are deployed in stadiums, golf courses add several unique challenges. These include the size of the course, weather conditions, and variability of Wi-Fi hot zones. Physical mounting, directional antennas, and RF settings must be configured to ensure a seamless fan experience. In addition, high-density areas like the media center and U.S. Open merchandise tent needed to be carefully planned to ensure high performance. The onsite media center at the course required connectivity for over 2,000 daily unique clients.
With Meraki Wi-Fi as the first point of network access across the course, we were able to introduce a number of innovative features within our U.S. Open App and video boards to enhance the fan experience.” – Amanda Weiner, Senior Director, Digital Media, USGA
The visibility of the Meraki dashboard and simplicity of configuring Wi-Fi was critical in delivering the connected course. The team was able to detect hot zones, deploy and tune the entire network in under a week. New Wi-Fi 6 APs were installed to allow the high density merchandise pavilion on the course to transfer close to 3TB of data. To learn more, take a look at the on-demand webinar to understand their technology strategy, and learn how the Meraki Wi-Fi network helped deliver a connected fan experience. Watch now
The 802.11 wireless standard has come a long way since the Meraki founders started a 2003 project to offer 802.11b/g mesh networking technology at their MIT university campus. In those days, 4G LTE, social media applications, iPhones, iPads, streaming music, YouTube, and AWS did not exist. Today, technologies like self-driving cars, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and 5G cellular networks are all on the verge of going mainstream.
The new 802.11ax amendment, also known as Wi-Fi 6, will help usher in new wireless technologies by providing higher throughput, higher density, and overall higher efficiency. While the 802.11ac standard gave us immense throughput improvements, Wi-Fi 6 hopes to improve the average throughput per user by a factor of four in dense environments. Wi-Fi 6 will achieve these improvements using technologies such as OFDMA (Downlink and Uplink), MU-MIMO (Downlink and Uplink), 1024 QAM and BSS Color.
The new MR45 and MR55 access points that we just announced are Wi-Fi 6 compatible. Sure, they are screaming fast on paper, but with the efficient technologies incorporated in the Wi-Fi 6 amendment, they also improve the performance of real-world wireless networks. Take a look at a few of the highlights below:
8×8 with MU-MIMO and OFDMA and 1G/2.5G/5G Ethernet
5.9 Gbps maximum data rate
2.4 GHz and 5 GHz operation
Support for MCS Rates 10 & 11
Sleek “vessel” design
PoE+ requires 802.3at compliance
4×4 with MU-MIMO and OFDMA and 1G/2.5G Ethernet
3.5 Gbps maximum data rate
2.4 GHz and 5 GHz operation
Support for MCS Rates 10 & 11
Sleek “vessel” design
PoE+ requires 802.3at compliance
Meraki continues to set the standard of access point performance and management simplicity with Meraki dashboard and Wireless Health. However, the exceptional efficiency-improving benefits come in when adding on new Wi-Fi 6 technologies.
OFDMA is technology adopted from cellular standards, and perhaps the most important feature of Wi-Fi 6. With OFDMA, an MR45 or MR55 can package up different types of traffic from wireless clients with varying bandwidth requirements and send them all at the same time, rather than sending these packets separately. Imagine a game of Tetris, with different shapes representing VoIP traffic, Twitter traffic, and IoT traffic, all neatly packaged into a single transmission. Sounds efficient!
BSS Coloring is one of the improvements that helps Wi-Fi 6 enabled products operate efficiently in dense environments. It helps reduce medium contention by adding a simple color bit to help differentiate between overlapping radios. The analogy here is that an AP can put on a pair of filtered glasses that allows it to ignore frames being sent that are associated with a different color, or radio.
MU-MIMO was introduced with 802.11ac (or Wi-Fi 5), allowing multiple clients to be addressed simultaneously. When combined with OFDMA, MU-MIMO APs become more powerful by gaining the ability to serve multiple users and multiple bandwidth needs of those clients.
Re-introduction of 2.4 GHz provides additional spectrum that can be used for outdoor use cases or IoT applications. Wi-Fi 5 did not utilize the 2.4 GHz spectrum, but with OFDMA and MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi 6 hopes to unlock the full potential of the crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum by enabling more efficient performance.
1024 QAM is a new modulation scheme that increases data rates by 25% compared to the 256 QAM technology of Wi-Fi 5. This new modulation scheme works for the 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrum.
Target Wake Time has been shown to improve battery life for Wi-Fi 6 devices by as much as 67% in industry tests. The MR45 and MR55 use TWT to negotiate wakeup times for energy-conscious Wi-Fi 6 mobile and IoT devices so they can sleep soundly, while conserving energy.
The new Wi-Fi 6 compatible MR45 and MR55 will be able to efficiently send lots of packets! By combining the Meraki Wi-Fi 6 access points with our new access and aggregation switches, network admins can rest easy knowing they’ve reduced any chance of bottlenecks in the network.