Southstar Drug steps into the future with Huawei’s AirEngine Wi-Fi 6

“In Wi-Fi 6 Accelerates a Path to a Hyper-Connected World,” a white paper by Zeus Kerravala — founder and principal analyst of ZK Research — pointed out that network connectivity will become an even more formidable driver of digital transformation in the years to come.

“The success or failure of digital initiatives can often hinge on the network — particularly Wi-Fi, as it is the first point of connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other devices. Over the next several years, the number of IoT devices is set to explode, further increasing the value of WiFi,” Kerravala asserts.

Connectivity requirements

Indeed, rapidly developing technologies and platforms such as cloud computing, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), 4K video, artificial intelligence (AI), and mobile devices are all network-centric. 

At Huawei’s Global Analyst Summit earlier this year, Zhao Zhipeng — president of campus network domain of Huawei’s data communication product line — talked about the AirEngine Wi-Fi 6. He stated, “Typical benefits include smooth VR/AR teaching in education, 4K high-definition conferences and wireless offices for enterprises, as well as packet-loss-free automated guided vehicles in industrial manufacturing environments.”

Companies that are planning to expand further, such as Southstar Drug, should make network connectivity a priority.

Southstar Drug’s strategy

Southstar Drug — a subsidiary of Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. — started out as a mom-and-pop pharmacy run by the Dy family since 1937 in Naga City, Camarines Sur. It is now one of the largest pharmacy chains in the Philippines. Aside from supplying a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products, Southstar Drug outlets also carry food, personal care, and health and wellness items.

Southstar Drug, which already has more than 500 stores nationwide, is gearing up for further expansion. The company operates several types of store formats — from stand-alone pharmacies to concessions inside supermarkets and even automated pharmacies with self-service sections. As the company grows further and incorporates more and more network-centric technologies into its operations, there is a need for 24/7 connectivity.

In line with this, Southstar Drug began planning to build a new Data Center (DC) and office in Taguig City, Metro Manila. 

Southstar Drug’s chosen strategy was sound, but the company faced critical challenges. First, a lengthy construction period required for a traditional wired network. The pharmacy chain also had to deal with the high Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and the restrictive locations for the Local Area Network (LAN). 

To address these challenges, the company had to find a stable, high-bandwidth, cost-effective wireless solution.

The pharmacy chain required a solution that was already a proven high performer in commercial use. It ended up rejecting its legacy vendor and other competitors. Ultimately, it was Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 that stood out for its performance, high capacity, and low latency of the technology.

Huawei first

It is worth noting that network-centric technologies require more bandwidth, higher concurrency, and lower latency. Traditional Wi-Fi networks experience bottlenecks in wireless traffic forwarding. The AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 is Huawei’s solution to this next-level dilemma, as it reduced fault points and improving reliability.

Huawei has been working on developing the new Wi-Fi standard since 2014 and chaired the IEEE 802.11ax standard working group. In fact, Huawei is recognized as a major contributor to Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax standards. The company eventually became the first vendor to release commercial Wi-Fi 6 products. 

Priceless benefits

Thanks to the AirEngine Wi-Fi 6, Southstar Drug has been able to operate its business more efficiently and at faster speeds. The quick and easy access to resources has helped boost employee productivity.

In the past, it was reportedly difficult to connect more than 60 users to a single access point (AP) without causing disruption to the Wi-Fi network. Using Huawei’s AirEngine Wi-Fi 6, more than 200 concurrent users are able to connect to the wireless network.

Since the AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 is equipped with built-in smart antennas, signal quality significantly improved. This gives end users a seamless and smooth wireless network experience. Moreover, fewer physical access points or APs are required.

Wi-Fi 6 specs

To sum up, the AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 boasts of the following:

  • Key 5G technologies – It offers Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), uplink Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO), and higher-order coding 1,024-QAM. 
  • Improved capacity – It achieves four times higher network bandwidth and four times more concurrent users than Wi-Fi 5.
  • Minimized latency – It reduces the average network latency from 30 milliseconds to 20 milliseconds. 

Bottom line: Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 aims is to provide optimal user experience for various sectors, including the enablement of new business. Seamless and reliable connectivity has the power to further speed up the digital transformation of enterprises in various sectors.

With many more clients like Southstar Drug recognizing Wi-Fi 6 as the platform for the future, Huawei has now signed more commercial Wi-Fi 6 contracts than any other vendor. Its Wi-Fi 6 APs have been deployed on a large scale in five major regions worldwide.

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