Are you dreaming of being provided with super fast Wi-Fi anytime and continuous network connectivity, without worrying about network congestion from devices’ overlaps? The new IEEE’s 802.11ax standard will make it possible and will dramatically improve your Wi-Fi network capacity.
Nowadays, users are using more and more devices while being online, which means Wi-Fi networks and devices need enhanced performance to handle the increased amount of traffic produced. For this reason, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is working on the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard, which in 2019 is expected to be publicly released replacing the actual 802.11ac.
In the meantime, Qualcomm, the chipset vendor specialized in 3G and next-generation mobile technologies, has recently announced the development of IPQ8074 and QCA6290, two new system-on-chips (SoC) compatible with the new standard features, designed to improve the connected user experience. It will take a while to see 802.11ax Wi-Fi devices available on the market: Qualcomm’s IPQ8074 SoC-based Wi-Fi routers should be released by the end of the year, whereas the QCA6290 ones are expected to be out in 2018.
IPQ8074 will target transmitting routers, gateways and enterprise access points, and is expected to reach a peak speed of 4.8 Gbps across 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. QCA6290 will be instead adopted for receiving Wi-Fi devices (smartphones, laptops and tablets) and will reach a peak speed of 1.8 Gbps in clients’ wireless devices. Furthermore, the new 802.11ax standard will provide better signal coverage on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands, which will also improve connections’ range and responsiveness. Interestingly, QCA6290 is going to be the first ever released client-side SoC. Fast speed is only one of the many benefits 802.11ax will bring to Wi-Fi devices.
The new IEEE standard also aims at improving Wi-Fi networks’ capacity by limiting congestion on Wi-Fi networks, so that connections of high-traffic wireless deployments can work well even when thousands of devices are connected simultaneously, creating interferences. It is likely that vendors will start developing new product lines in order to base enhanced Wi-Fi devices on the new standard.
How will 802.11ax improve Wi-Fi network capacity?
- Switching from SU-MIMO to MU-MIMO
Single-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (SU-MIMO) is the current technology compatible with the current 802.11ac standard, which allows routers to shift connections using multiple inputs and outputs in order to serve a single user at a time. Soon, it will be replaced by the Multiple-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO), based on 802.11ax, which will be able to serve a higher number of users simultaneously.
- MU-MIMO together with OFDM
The 802.11ax standard will use Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), the technology currently used to enhance LTE networks’ capacity that allows low data rate transmission from several users at the same time. 802.11ax access points will be able to combine OFDMA with MU-MIMO, so that they will have full control of all aspects of multiple user operations and will be able to further increase the data transfer to multiple devices at the same time, by subdividing signals in the same channel bandwidth into smaller sub-channels.
By virtue of these capabilities, the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard will boost Wi-Fi networks’ capability and performance.