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MSPs – The ultimate guide to the 802.11ax wireless standard

Tavola-disegno-2

MSPs – The ultimate guide to the 802.11ax wireless standard

Get ready for the new 802.11ax wireless standard!

In today’s ‘always connected’ world, MSPs have the responsibility of keeping all their wireless networks up and running 24/7. The way users consume data and the ever-growing number of connected devices in a network, only reassures that user behavior continues to be the main driver for changing the portfolio of services offered by MSPs.

As users still outline the guidelines for action with their evolving needs for a more connected world, MSPs need to stay one step ahead of the trend and stay informed to guide their clients through the rapid shifts of the wireless market.

The evolution of the WiFi standard, the so-called 802.11ax or WiFi6, is coming down our way this year. This standard will lift some pressure on wireless networks deployed in dense environments with multiple client devices connected at once. 802.11ax promises improved speed levels, increased efficiency, and reduced congestion in heavy-bandwidth usage scenarios.

MSPs need to manage and guide their customers during this transition from the standard 802.11ac to 802.11ax. At this point, SMBs might be wondering about new access points, the standard itself, and compatibility with their current devices. Also, another concern for SMBs is whether it is necessary to upgrade all the infrastructure promptly to comply with the WiFi standard or do nothing. Right now is the time for MSPs to step in and take the lead. Understanding the latest 802.11ax wireless standard is essential to prepare your customers for embracing the new wireless technology.

This is a series of articles about the 802.11ax wireless standard. In this article, we’ll cover the general concepts, benefits, and the technology behind 802.11ax in plain English.

What is 802.11ax or WiFi6?

Every new WiFi standard brings significant improvements in performance, speed, and capabilities for the wireless connection. The IEEE 802.11 family of wireless standards is giving a spin to the current 802.11ac to boost and improve the performance. Hereafter, the family of standards has a new member: the high-efficient wireless 802.11ax.

The 802.11ax standard, also known as WiFi6 or high-efficient wireless, is an evolution of the standard wireless 802.11ac. The 802.11ax, unlike its predecessors, focuses on better efficiency, performance, and capacity.

These achievements are possible thanks to multiple variations in the current standard. For example, the new 802.11ax has more OFDMA sub-channels, MU-MIMO user multiplexed, higher order 1024-QAM and beamforming. Furthermore, uplinks are now scheduled instead of based on contention. Also, the channel interference gets drastically reduced through BSS color coding, thanks to better power-control methods to avoid interference with neighboring networks.

Moreover, the 802.11ax supports the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. This means that the new 802.11ax standard stays backward compatible with 802.11ac and even with 802.11n devices.

To sum up, the IEEE 802.11ax wireless standard promises to solve some of the problems left behind by its predecessors. Furthermore, it will ease congestion in high-density environments like airports, stadiums, shopping malls, conference centres, universities/schools and offices/co-working spaces.

The amendment of 802.11ax will be ratified in the first quarter of 2020. As of now, the WiFi Alliance has begun its 802.11ax certification program name as WiFi6 – naming convention that will prevail for the general consumer. As with previous standards, vendors have already released some chipsets compatible with 802.11ax, even before the certification is official.

What are the benefits of 802.11ax for dense environments?

The 802.11ax wireless standard will allow MSPs to support the latest applications on the same wireless deployments, while delivering a higher service to legacy applications. Correspondingly, it will enable new business models and push towards WiFi adoption even more.

High-density environments will enjoy the benefits of 802.11ax, as compatible access points will support more client devices connected simultaneously. Further, traditional wireless networks will have a much better experience. Likewise, applications like 4K or 8K video, IoT, VR, and AI devices will get more predictable performance.

How does 802.11ax work?

The IEEE 802.11ax standard brings together well-performing wireless techniques and blends them in such a way that accomplishes significant achievements over the forerunner 802.11ac standard. Remarkable, it keeps backward compatibility with the old standards as it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Let’s deep dive into the technology that will make possible 802.11ax:

Speed

In terms of speed, the current 802.11ac offers a maximum rate of 1.3Gbps. Instead, the 802.11ax standard promises a 30% faster top speed, with a maximum transfer speed of 10Gbps. This is true even for high density (outdoors and indoors) environments. However, the speed rate is not the main driver of 802.11ax. The main key selling point for 802.11ax is to solve some of the most enduring problems that WiFi networks face nowadays, including latency and client density.

Radio

At the heart of the new 802.11ax standard, there is the “how” to handle radio frequencies.  The 802.11ax standard operates in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with allocations of 20MHz channels. The channels can be put together in blocks up to the 160MHz channel. Moreover, the 20MHz channels are divided into 256 smaller sub-channels. It is roughly more than 64 sub-channels compared to the previous standard. Consequently, it improves the resolution with which a link can cope with interference, frequency-dependent fading, and so on.

MU-MIMO

MU-MIMO stands for Multi-user Multiple Input/Multiple Output. MU-MIMO, a technology introduced previously in the 802.11ac Wave 2, is another way to handle traffic from multiple devices. Multiple users access the same access point at once without any noticeable decrease in bandwidth quality – until a certain point.

The 802.11ac 4×4 MU-MIMO Wave 2 devices can only handle four users at a time for downloads. Instead, the 802.11ax 8×8 MU-MIMO supports up to eight users downloading and also uploading data at the same time. Each user has a dedicated channel to transmit data.

The enhanced 8×8 MU-MIMO increases overall capacity. Thus, large packets of data are handled more efficiently and transmitted simultaneously, allowing for multiple connections to happen at once. As a result, this feature enables access points to manage traffic from a variety of 802.11ax devices more effectively.

So, it doesn’t matter if people are making use of video calls or streaming HD video, downloading, or playing games. Thanks to 8 MU-MIMO streams, there’s more than enough bandwidth for everybody.

OFDM, OFDA, and OFDMA

OFDM stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing. OFDA for orthogonal frequency division access and OFDMA for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access. All of them refer to methods of frequency-division multiplexing.

Thanks to OFDM, OFDA, and OFDMA, each channel is split into many smaller sub-channels. Each of them with a slightly different frequency. For instance, the standards 802.11a/g/n/ac currently use OFDM for single-user transmissions on 802.11 frequency. Here, the allocation of users is on the time domain. However, the new 802.11ax wireless standard utilizes OFDMA, which is a multi-user version of the OFDM digital-modulation technology, in which users allocation is by time and frequency.

For example, with the OFDM technology, users would occupy all subcarriers for a specific period, even if there’s not much data to send. Instead, with OFDMA, many users can be multiplexed at once, and each of them can use different sets of subcarriers. In consequence, OFDMA is well-suited for low-bandwidth apps, while at the same time, users experience less latency. By around 75% less than with OFDM.

OFDMA, introduced for the first time in wireless networking, is the most crucial multi-user feature available for 802.11ax. It allows multiple client devices with different bandwidth needs to be served at the same time. Instead, the existing devices compete with one another to send data. Consequently, with 802.11ax, there will be no “waiting time” as each device will be simultaneously scheduled to transmit data in parallel.

In a nutshell…

OFDMA does not increase overall capacity. However, it makes use of the capacity more efficiently by allocating subcarriers to users based on their bandwidth needs. If we think again in a high-density environment like airports, stadiums, and shopping malls, for instance, client devices making use of applications that are latency-sensitive like IoT devices and voice traffic will experience a better performance thanks to the way OFDM handles short data packets. The transmission of these data packets is simultaneous, enabling multiple connections to happen at once. Lastly, it allows access points to handle traffic from a variety of 802.11ax devices more effectively.

BSS Color

Another issue affecting WiFi speed in dense environments is mutual interference between access points in the same channel or overlapping groups of channels. BSS stands for Base Service Station, is a feature that reduces WiFi conflicts with neighboring wireless networks through color coding.

WiFi copes with this co-channel interference by CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense with Multiple Access Collision Avoidance), which means that a radio that wants to transmit data first needs to listen to its frequency. If it hears another transmission in the process, then it needs to wait sometime before trying to communicate again.

Therefore, the BSS color, which is a numerical identification between 0 and 7, comes in handy to highlight frames in neighboring wireless networks. AP’s that are too closed on the same channel get a configuration that forces them to use different colors. So, when an AP or client device wants to transmit data, it picks up on a signal within its channel. Then, it checks the color code associated, and if it’s different and the signal intensity is sufficiently low to demonstrate there’s a “low-to-non chance” of interference, then the transmission goes ahead.

The 802.11a wireless standard had the BSS technology to assign a different color to each BSS. Now, it will also be part of the 802.11ax wireless standard.

Target Wake Time

Now, users can reduce the power consumption on devices with target wake time (TWT). The TWT is a mutual negotiation between an access point and a client device about ‘when’ and ‘how often’ the AP will query the client device to send or receive data. This technology allows client devices to go in a low-power mode in-between ‘awakenings.’ At the same time, it significantly enhances the battery life of devices. Lastly, it lets the access points create efficient use patterns to maximize the number of client devices it can handle over time.

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)

QAM is a highly developed modulation scheme extensively used in the modern telecom industry to transmit data over radio frequencies. Currently, the 802.11ac only offers a 256-QAM capacity, which is only reliable for low-dense environments. Hence, the challenge is to ensure fast and reliable WiFi coverage in dense locations, where streaming 4K video or virtual reality content is the average consumption for users.

To overcome the challenge, the new 802.11ax will offer a 4X increased capacity over the forerunner standard. In short, the higher the QAM levels, the more the throughput capabilities in wireless devices. Besides, it comes with 10 bits per symbol vs. 8 bits available in the 256-QAM. “More bits, more data”, and data delivery becomes more efficient.

Consequently, the 802.11ax will have a 1024-QAM capacity that will allow only compatible access points and supported devices, within a network in dense environments to enjoy a +25% speed burst. Put simply, an increase in throughput capabilities for wireless devices.

With millions of connected devices expected by 2021, the throughput capacity of 1024-QAM is essential to ensure the quality of service (QoS) in dense environments.

The next article will discuss devices already available in the market that support the 802.11ax wireless standard, pros and cons, speed tests, and our perspective whether its best to upgrade all WiFi devices -or not, to comply with the new standard.

FOSDEM 2020 – What did our Developers Learn?

fosdem-logo

FOSDEM 2020 – What did our Developers Learn?

FOSDEM stands for Free and Open Source Developers’ European Meeting. It is one of the most significant events for Open Source communities in Europe.

Every year, thousands of software developers meet in Brussels to share ideas and collaborate at the event. The aim of it is to promote the public use of free and open-source software.

The European gathering of open source enthusiasts took place in Brussels two weekends ago. For the fourth time, our team had the chance to take part in the FOSDEM 2020 event, which featured 841 speakers, 873 events, and 71 tracks. From all lectures and conversations with fellow developers from around the world about freedom, sharing, and open collaboration. Here’s what they learned at the FOSDEM 2020 event.

The most exceptional talks at FOSDEM 2020

Talk: Pushing the limits of the web with WebAssembly

Jon Lopez Garcia delivered a brilliant talk about pushing the limits of the web with WebAssembly. He journeyed back in time to highlight how Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Edge have worked tirelessly to push the boundaries and performance of apps. Thanks to their hard work in implementing the new binary standard, WebAssembly came on the scene to allow the execution in the browser of software at almost native speed.

In his session, Jon explained how current browsers are striving to optimize the performance of JavaScript code. The leading browsers implemented a lot of smart tricks to avoid the recompilation of JavaScript pieces of code to increase overall performance. However, this is a limitation to current solutions because JavaScript is not strongly typed by design.

Among the benefits Jon highlighted, the most memorable one was about delivering a pre-compiled part of the code. For fellow developers, this helps to enhance their applications’ performances significantly, while providing an astonishing UX to their customers. We might be able to implement it and increase the performance of the CPU’s most intensive activities on the Tanaza’s platform.

Talk: IoT Updates with IPv6 Multicast

Brett Sheffield addressed IoT Updates with IPv6 Multicast in his presentation. He questioned the fact if we could update a billion IoT nodes from just one tiny virtual server. In reality, it is possible!

With IPv6 Multicast, we can send our updates to potentially billions of devices using just a single stream of information. It’s like yelling instead of knocking door by door if we compare it to the traditional approach of updating the nodes one by one. Resources can be considerably cut, that’s for sure.

However, there are some drawbacks. We cannot rely anymore on the inherent properties of traditional unicast approaches like transmission reliability, in-order delivery, and flow control. Nonetheless, Brett showed some tricks on how to achieve the same features also with the IPv6 multicast approach. He also demonstrated how efficient and handy multicast can be when updating IoT nodes, all packed in a (still experimental) open-source library.

Talk: Falco Internals 101: Syscalls processing for security analysis

Robin Marx discussed how browsers try to guess in which order the web page resources should be loaded, comparing the heuristics of the main current browsers. Also, how servers use that information to often (accidentally) make your website slower instead.

He showed how HTTP/2 stacks implement prioritization, comparing it to the new HTTP/3 and QUIC approach. He also emphasized on the remaining challenges, even with the new approach.

With QUIC, the main TCP layer problem “head of line blocking” is solved, as QUIC can identify different streams in the transport layer. So, in a round-robin approach to resource delivery, QUIC is much more efficient.

Still, it is also true that practical tests showed that sequential resource delivery usually performs much better. Hence, QUIC would behave as TCP and thus have the same performance.

Yet, some challenges remain, for instance, the separation of priority between browser, server, and transport layer. This causes difficulties for web developers to make a web-app load precisely as it would be expected on every browser. The fact that new protocols and approaches will have a way of specifying the priority, might allow them to deliver more performing web resources at the same time.

For web developers, it is a game-changer to understand how prioritization works. It helps them to leverage some existing options to impact the browser’s heuristics and server behavior. At the same time, it helps to empower the user experience.

Talk: How Yocto extra tools help industrial project

Pierre Ficheux delivered a talk about Yocto, the most famous building system for embedded Linux. Yocto is an open-source project to create custom Linux-based systems regardless of the hardware architecture. Currently, 22 organizations are collaborating with the Linux Foundation, including OpenEmbedded.

In the eyes of Pierre, Yocto, a system written in python (BitBake), is extremely powerful. However, it needs some training, mostly text mode, as it has poor GUI.

During his conference, Pierre explained how to use some Yocto features to help the development of a free industrial project. As simple as it sounds, Yocto works perfectly for creating a custom Linux distribution for embedded devices.

Pierre also discussed how valuable are the eSDK (extended cross-toolchain), Ptest, and Testimage (CI), Devtool, and Devshell (recipe modification) to speed up the development process. With these tools, programmers can quickly develop and test the distribution instead of doing it manually. In this way, it is also possible to automate CI workflows to increase product quality.

#Conclusion

Our developers say. On many aspects, FOSDEM is, above all, a social event. After attending FOSDEM for many years, we think the whole point of this event is for people to share their free, open-source projects with other like minded people.

Lots of communities take the opportunity to organize influential sessions and meetings to choose the right path for their next project. For our team, it was also the occasion to get acquainted with fellow developers, to explain our projects and initiatives to others, and get back home with a sack of new knowledge.

Tanaza is always keeping the R&D team up to date with the latest trends in technology to improve their day-to-day job. The R&D team keeps growing in number to develop the coolest features, test and debug our platform. All of these, to always offer a competitive product for our customers.

Now is the best time to join our company and be part of our project. If you would like to know more about opportunities to develop and grow in your career, see the job openings at Tanaza.

 

Tanaza accelerates software and hardware disaggregation within the Telecom Infra Project

Tanaza accelerates software and hardware disaggregation within the Telecom Infra Project

Tanaza joins Telecom Infra Project group

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is a collaborative telecom community. Launched in February 2016, TIP was started with the goal of accelerating the pace of innovation in the telecom industry.

TIP splits its initiatives into three main strategic network areas: Access, Transport and Core and Services. For instance, the Access project groups work on identifying and creating innovative infrastructure solutions, technologies, and methodologies to make it easier to connect people to the Internet. The Access group focuses on removing some of the blockers that can make the connection difficult to the end-user. (Telecom Infra Project)

TIP has a diverse network of members made up of over 500 organizations, including operators, technology providers, developers, integrators, and startups. Members of TIP work actively on disaggregating the traditional network deployment approach. Tanaza began participating in the TIP WiFi project in early 2019, with the intent of contributing with its technology to accelerate software and hardware disaggregation.

 

 

What goes on at the Wi-Fi Project Group?

 

The TIP Wi-Fi project group is developing a disaggregated end-to-end Wi-Fi solution, consisting of access points (APs) and a cloud-native control / management plane which optionally interfaces to mobile operators’ core networks to enable mobile data offload. With design being driven by the goal of reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) and easing the operations, the TIP community’s Wi-Fi solution will be attractive to a wide range of service providers.

Tanaza and other members of the project group will collaborate to validate the hardware and software components they are contributing and ensure those components are interoperable. It is expected that the AP reference design will be open-sourced within TIP, in addition to some parts of the controller/management/gateway software. As a result, this will significantly lower the barrier to entry for new vendors joining the ecosystem.

Tanaza is participating in the TIP Summit ’19 conference

TIP Summit 2019 stage

Since 2016, Telecom Infra Project has hosted an annual conference dedicated to people within the Telecom industry. The ones who are changing the world with better connectivity solutions. This year, the TIP Summit ’19 will take place in Amsterdam on November 13-14.

A diverse group of voices from the likes of David del Val Latorre, CEO of Telefonica R&D, Miguel Marin, Technology Director of Vodafone and Tareq Amin, CTO of Rakuten Mobile, will be part of the engaging keynotes and panels at TIP Summit ’19. The speakers will share their experiences focusing on the challenges and opportunities of building and deploying telecom network infrastructures.

On November 14, Sebastiano Bertani, CEO of Tanaza, will participate in the panel “Building an Open Wi-Fi System for communication service providers” moderated by Shah Rahman, Software Engineering Manager of Facebook. The panel will bring together vendors who are collectively working on the TIP Wi-Fi Project group, to discuss how they are enabling CSPs to provide better, faster and cheaper Wi-Fi connectivity to their customers.

If you are attending the TIP Summit ‘19, join our CEO at this luminary panel session to learn more about the contributions OEM partners have made to the TIP Wi-Fi Project Group.

See you in Amsterdam!

The Android of WiFi Networks goes to Web Summit 2019

The Android of WiFi Networks goes to Web Summit 2019

RF basics for WLAN design

Tanaza will join entrepreneurs, startups and investors at Web Summit, the largest tech conference in the world.
The event will take place in Lisbon, Portugal on November 4-7, 2019.

 

Web Summit without a doubt is the most powerful tech event held in Europe since 2009. As a result, it’s been defined by Forbes as “The best technology conference on the planet”. Web Summit covers a variety of topics, ranging from deep tech and data science to design and environmental sustainability. 

Participating at the forefront of this leading-edge and innovative event, Tanaza will be joining at Web Summit 2019 tens of thousands of entrepreneurs, tech icon celebrities, media outlets, and startups – the ones who dictate where the industry is heading and how fast new technologies will be adopted.

 

Innovative sessions and brilliant minds in one place

During four jam-packed days, the world of tech will live and breathe innovation. The Web Summit conference will focus on disruptive business models, envisaging thought leadership, networking and brand awareness. Attendees will get inspired by ground-breaking speaking sessions, experience the power of networking and share their thoughts and ideas with people from all over the world.

Web Summit gathers the minds behind the innovative ideas that are changing the world. This year the list of the top speakers and Web Summit attendees include big names of the likes of Brad Smith – President of Microsoft, Werner Vogels – CTO of Amazon, Edward Snowden – former intelligence officer, and Hans Vestberg – CEO of Verizon. They will deliver breakout sessions – each one at the forefront of their industries, to enlighten us with what’s coming in the world of tech. 

 

Creating the Android of WiFi networks at Web Summit

Sebastiano Bertani, will present a leadership keynote at Web Summit 2019Tanaza CEO Sebastiano Bertani, will present a leadership keynote on the 6th of November at the Growth stage at 10:50 AM. He will discuss how Tanaza is replicating Android’s approach by creating a horizontal market in the wireless networking sector, to free users from locked-in vertical solutions that impose a software/hardware bundle.

Sebastiano aims to introduce TanazaOS operating system as the standard for wireless access points (as Android did with smartphones) and disrupt the WiFi market. Tanaza will be similar to Android in the sense that it will provide a smarter, interoperable software to power a wide range of third party hardware devices and give them additional capabilities and more.

 

If you are attending Web Summit drop by the Tanaza’s booth number G111, on the 5th of November. You will have the opportunity to discuss with our experts the benefits of hardware and software disaggregation in the WiFi market. In addition, get a sneak peek of Tanaza’s cloud-based operating system for WiFi Cloud management and also learn how companies are saving in CapEx and OpEx.

 

“We are thrilled to have been selected by Web Summit to participate at the event. This is an exciting time at Tanaza, and this demonstrates our hard work and commitment to make WiFi ubiquitous and accessible. Also, it furthers our mission to democratize WiFi networks by providing software for affordable, top-notch and cloud-controllable WiFi connectivity.” Declares Sebastiano Bertani, CEO of Tanaza.

See you in Lisbon!