Customize your guest WiFi experience with a Hotspot splash page

Guest WiFi Hotspot Splash Page

Customize the free guest WiFi experience with a Splash Page

Enhance the free guest WiFi experience with a custom splash page.

This month, we are launching the first edition of a simple yet powerful native hotspot system in the new Tanaza platform. Likewise, with every software in the market that evolves through time, we keep developing and changing ours. 

For this edition, we have released the Splash Page Editor, an essential component of the Hotspot system. The editor allows network admins to create a customized branding guest WiFi experience, using company logo and corporate colors in the authentication page of a public hotspot. The editor is at the core of the new Tanaza platform and is available to all customers at no extra cost.

Improve the free guest WiFi experience with a Hotspot Splash Page

The Splash Page Editor allows customers to create effortlessly internal splash pages, configure, and assign them to multiple SSIDs, thanks to a fully-responsive and more intuitive user interface. Additionally, every SSID can have its unique splash page. 

Currently, the editor offers only a click-through authentication method for free guest WiFi. Therefore, network admins don’t need to store user-session data. More authentication methods, like Facebook login, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and VK, are on the way. Also, a voucher system, dashboard analytics, and API integrations are on the short term roadmap. Just remember, the splash page editor is the beginning, future developments will take our Hotspot system to the new level.

Highly Customizable Splash Pages for Guest WiFi access

To build a mobile or desktop-ready splash page for guest WiFi access, it’s remarkably easy. The built-in Splash Page Editor allows users to customize the image, background, text, and login button. In terms of color, the palette available gently helps users to create their design system. In this way, users can keep brand consistency across their splash pages; the same applies to typography and buttons. Lastly, the editor allows users to set Terms and Conditions to have WiFi networks up-to-date and fully compliant with data privacy law.

Splash Page Editor

Connect External and Custom Splash Pages 

Alternatively, to customized splash pages, users can further connect external splash pages hosted with other providers like PurpleWiFi, Cloud4Wi or Aislelabs, to the new Tanaza platform. 

Similarly, if users have a custom splash page in use, it is possible to connect it to the platform. Users should follow the Tanaza guidelines on how to enable the custom splash page, and it will be all set. However, it might require some coding skills.

The Hotspot integration in the new Tanaza platform will keep evolving, we have just released the first edition of what will be a highly enhanced hotspot application. The R&D team at Tanaza continuously develops more features and add-ons to the platform, so stay tuned and keep an eye on our blog for upcoming features. Alternatively, subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know when new features are added to the platform.

Discover how to set up a Hotspot Splash Page in a few clicks in this step by step guide

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Remote syslog – Track client device connections

Remote Syslog

Track client device connections through remote Syslog in Tanaza

Nowadays, having a remote syslog feature within the WiFi network system is a must-have for Service Providers. The Tanaza software has the built-in capability of tracking the client device activities on the access points. When enabled, the messages and events stored in the access points can be exported to a remote Syslog server.

Remote Syslog

Tracking client devices’ connections in an Access Point

Some countries lawfully need to store TCP/UDP messages from access points and routers, for reporting purposes. Any given device generates information events in response to changing conditions, for example, like connections. Typically, these events are logged locally in the access points; however, monitoring and storing this data can slow down the device’s capability and, consequently, affect the network. 

Thanks to the Syslog feature, network administrators can forward this information to a remote Syslog server. Tanaza is rolling out an enhancement of the Syslog feature in the platform, which allows network administrators to track the client device connections in the access point.

Users can enable the remote Syslog server in the advanced settings of each access point. Alternatively, it can be enabled on all access points within a network, in one click on the Network-wide configuration. 

Afterward, every time a user connects or gets associated with an SSID, the MAC address and IP address are automatically registered in the logs.

With this feature the Syslog will show:

  • Date and timestamp (based on the time zone configured on the device)
  • Source local IP address 
  • Destination IP address
  • Source and destination ports
  • Source and destination MAC addresses

It is worth mentioning that this feature only allows users to send the log information from an access point to a remote server on the local Intranet or Internet by specifying an IP address. The data travels directly from the access point to the specified remote Syslog server. Tanaza users will rely on such platforms to retrieve any related information.

Read this article to learn how to set up your remote Syslog server on the Tanaza platform.

Syslog information now includes the client device IP address

When Services Providers, by law, need to keep track of IP address activity for every single device connected to a network, it’s predominant to have a feature within the network management system that allows sending this data to a Syslog server.

Tanaza has this capability embedded in the platform. Now network administrators can see, besides the client device’s MAC address and its activity, the IP address assigned to a client device and its activity when it connects to a Syslog-enabled WiFi network.

By enabling this feature, it’s possible to associate:

  • Device MAC address
  • Device local IP address
  • Public IP addresses visited
  • The specific time when it did happen

This enhanced feature allows Tanaza users to cross-link the information with the MAC address of the device that had the same IP address for a specific period.

While this feature is powerful, it involves a higher average load per each access point, as it would have to track every single connection of every client device connected at all times. Hence, users need to take into consideration that when enabling it, and use it wisely.

Still not using the Tanaza WiFi cloud management software?

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Linksys and Tanaza are partnering for deeper integration of their technologies

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Linksys and Tanaza are partnering for deeper integration of their technologies

Tanaza and Linksys are expanding their technology partnership to accelerate Cloud Management and Services in Linksys Business Access Points. The two companies are working together to enhance the capabilities and benefits customers realize from the Linksys Cloud Manager by integrating their technologies.

A renewed collaboration to bring Linksys Business Solutions to the next level

The collaboration between Linksys and Tanaza resulted in the August 2018 launch of the Linksys Cloud Manager, combining enterprise-grade hardware and technical support from Linksys with Tanaza’s powerful cloud management software bundled with no license fees for 5 years. The companies have evolved the software platform several times since the initial launch to deliver additional benefits, making the Linksys Cloud Manager a superior value proposition for MSPs and network administrators.
In 2020, both companies are embarking on a deeper integration to enhance the customer experience even further. The new agreement leverages more Tanaza technologies integrated on Linksys hardware platforms and fosters unparalleled development collaboration, acceleration, and optimization to create the ultimate cloud platform for business users.

“With this deeper integration and collaboration, we will be able to take our Linksys Business Solutions to the next level. We’re eager to deliver a cloud experience that is fast and easy to use, yet powerful enough for sophisticated network administrators. When combined with enterprise-grade hardware and dedicated technical support that business customers can rely on, we’re confident that we will provide tremendous value to the market today and for years to come.”, said John Minasyan, Director of Product Management, Commercial Products.

“Designed from the ground-up, it perfectly matches the requirements of modern cloud-based contexts, where responsiveness, real-time manageability, scalability, and seamless integration with the cloud infrastructure are paramount. Being able to provide all of this within the high-quality Linksys hardware that is widely available in most countries and Linksys’ award-winning customer service is simply fantastic. We have already started working on an extensive roadmap of enterprise-grade features to release over the next months. While the current COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on the near-term, I still see a bright future for this partnership.”, declared Sebastiano Bertani, CEO and Founder of Tanaza.
Tanaza presents its newest software releases at Web Summit

What’s coming up next

When Linksys chose Tanaza to create and maintain the Linksys Cloud Manager infrastructure, the aim was to put together a system with enterprise-level security, scalability, and reliability to be sure that the product is best-in-class in the wireless networking industry.
The system will be faster and able to apply real-time configurations for enhanced user experience. As always, Linksys Cloud Manager will distinguish itself in the market for ease of use and its unequaled performance.

The partnership will enable both companies to drive innovation to provide Managed Service Providers and business customers with a Cloud Management platform of unparalleled performance, features, and services coupled with highly reliable enterprise-grade hardware and technical support.

Book your Guided Demo today!

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Update Firmware in Wireless Access Points

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Update Tanaza’s Firmware on Wireless Access Points

Keeping the Tanaza firmware update on your WiFi Access Points has never been so important, and here’s why!

In today’s digital age, to run optimal WiFi networks, MSPs need to keep their WiFi devices updated with the latest firmware version to ensure excellent network performance.

In networking terms, the firmware is the software embedded into an access point, switch, controller, or router, which allows controlling the device. As a result, all the operating devices within a network should always be updated with the latest firmware. Consequently, these updates provide the devices with instant functionality improvements, which enhance the overall user experience.

What are the benefits of a firmware update on WIFi devices?

Continuously, Tanaza rolls out enhanced new features in the TanazaOS operating system to improve the platform. Users can enjoy these new features only after updating their firmware with the latest TanazaOS version available. Therefore, to achieve maximum efficiency with the Tanaza platform, we recommend our customers to keep their access points firmware updated. 

Tanaza firmware updates also protect your access points from vulnerabilities with our security patches, driving security and stability within your WiFi networks. Further, the firmware update allows the TanazaOS system to be more efficient, which leads to an increase in performance and speed.

Update the Tanaza firmware efficiently in no time

Manually logging into each access point to update all your network devices with the latest firmware is a time-consuming task. To prevent this scenario, Tanaza has created an enhanced version of this feature, which allows users to apply Tanaza firmware updates on their access points, remotely and at a network or organization level

Users can update some or all the devices within multiple networks or in inventory at the same time. Then, users can select which access points or networks would like to update with the latest firmware version. Afterwards, the update can be executed in bulk in just one-click. 

As a result, users can save time by updating multiple devices at once. More importantly, users can avoid onsite travels as the firmware update can be done remotely, kind of crucial these days given the current situation. 

Lastly, to provide users with an extra layer of security, the new Tanaza firmware update can be downloaded from our servers through a secure connection. If you would like to learn more about how to execute a firmware update in multiple devices powered by Tanaza, read this article TanazaOS update.”

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Where to find the latest Tanaza firmware?

Users can browse the available firmware version in the ‘Firmware Update’ page available on Tanaza’s account user menu. We recommend users to install the firmware update as soon as it’s released. 

Don’t wait too long to start enjoying new enhanced features with each Tanaza firmware update.

Now would be a good idea also to check Tanaza’s blog. We always communicate the latest firmware and feature releases of our platform in our blog. Also, users can read relevant content that can help maximize WiFi network performance and manage network deployments more efficiently.

Why is it so important to update the Tanaza firmware?

Firmware updates play a vital role in the functionality of your access points. After updating the firmware, the user experience is similar to a new product. It does not only enhance your experience with the Tanaza platform and your network’s performance, but it also protects your access points from vulnerabilities and fixes existing bugs.

Still not using the Tanaza WiFi cloud management software?

Discover the Tanaza platform’s features in a short personalized demo with one of our experts. Experience the Tanaza platform and learn more about all the features that will allow you to manage WiFi networks like a champ.

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Ping Tool – How to troubleshoot WiFi networks with the Ping tool?

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How to troubleshoot WiFi networks with the Ping tool?

Conducting ping tests routinely with a performing ping tool have multiple benefits. Pinging devices let WiFi networks managers know about the overall health of their networks. It’s essential to know the availability status of all the access points and routers —also, the latency rate of requests, Jitter, and packet losses.

Consequently, it is vital to know and understand the history of ping tests and how ping tests work. Tanaza is launching an improved ping tool, to help MSPs execute routine ping tests and stay up to date on the networks’ performance.

What is a ping tool?

A ping tool is a software utility to test the reachability between the requesting host and a destination host. It is the most common network tool used to provide a basic connectivity test.

The ping measures the time that takes for packets to arrive at the destination host from the requesting host and back. This tool is useful for troubleshooting WiFi networks and test responses. Also, it provides users with the exact location where a specific problem may exist in the network.

For example, if the connection to the Internet goes down in a specific location, the ping utility can be useful. It helps to better understand where the problem exists if it is within a particular AP or the WiFi network.

How does the ping tool work?

Users can select a specific access point and use it to PING another device. To ping the device, users can use an IP address or a domain name.

Once the user inputs the information and clicks PING, the system starts immediately pinging the intended device. After the attempts are over, the tool displays reached information values for average latency, loss rate, and jitter. Also, it shows a full history of the console. Users can also restart the ping if needed.

Also, users can set advanced settings like interleave, packet size, attempt counts, and timeout, in the advanced mode tab. Moreover, users can carry out multiple pings in parallel, with a maximum of 10 ping instances happening at once.

How do users visualize the ping results in the Tanaza platform?

The Tanaza platform displays the ping results through dynamic diagrams. These graphics allow users to get a quick overview of the network situation in a fast and organized way.

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Also, if users switch to the console view, they visualize the history of the attempts updated in real-time. The ping tool measures and records the packet round trip time, which gives an idea of latency between the two devices. Also, it measures if there are any losses along the way while performing the ping test.
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In the new Tanaza platform, ping tests can be carried out between local and remote devices, such as over the Internet or a VPN. As long as the devices are online and updated with the latest TanazaOS firmware (current version 3.3.2), tests can be carried out without any inconvenience. Ping tests cannot be carried out on disabled access points.

How to read data from the ping tool

1. What is Latency Rate?

In terms of networking, latency is the time that takes for a data packet to travel from the requesting source to the access point and then for the latter, to process it and send back an answer. For performance purposes, MSPs should always look for the timing to remain as close to zero as possible. In short, low latency implies there are no delays, and instead, high latency means there are many delays.

What would be an acceptable Latency in WiFi networks?

The average latency of a WiFi network will depend on two factors: wired or wireless connection, and quality signal. The information below is valid when pinging devices on the local network.

Typically, a wired connection has a latency of 1 millisecond or less. Whereas a wireless connection should generally be in the range of 1 to 3 milliseconds. The reason a wireless connection experiences more latency is due to the operation of encryption and decryption that it needs to go through, which in general lines takes more time compared to a wired connection. The wired connection only needs hardware operation and transmission, and as a result, the latency is much less.

Last but not least, the network signal is another key point to factor in. The higher the network signal is, the lower the ping would be. So, network managers know that the speed related to their networks depends mainly on signal quality.

When the average latency figures in networks (wired or wireless) go above the aforementioned threshold, that’s when network managers should start to worry. If latency figures, go as high as 4-6 milliseconds, it means the network is heavily congested. Also, it could mean that networks might be experiencing lots of collisions. Any figures beyond 4-6 milliseconds, it means poor WiFi connection or also interference caused by other devices nearby.

2. What is Jitter?

In networking, jitter -measured in milliseconds, is the variation in latency and response time of packets carrying data, like voice or video, over a communication channel. A healthy connection would consistently report back the same latency at all times. In contrast, slow or congested networks will show high levels of jitter.

In a network, the sender forwards packets spaced evenly apart in a continuous stream. However, if the WiFi network is congested packets start queuing. Also, if there are errors in the network configuration, it can result in significant variations in packet delay. This means that packets will not be received in the same order or possibly drop entirely on the way.

When MSPs are in the presence of high-level jitter variations, it can only indicate problems within the network. For example, web browsing is highly resistant to jitter, however, streaming data, voice, or music is much more susceptible.

What would be an acceptable Jitter in WiFi networks?

If a user has a VoIP call and the jitter surpasses 40ms, it will cause severe deterioration in the VoIP call quality. The tolerance of jitter will depend on the application. But, as a rule of thumb, jitter tolerance should be below 30ms to guarantee excellent user experience.

3. What is Packet Loss?

When it comes to monitoring network performance, it is crucial to know and understand how to stop packet loss. Let’s get started by unfolding first the terminology.

A packet is a small unit of data carried over a digital network. Data packets follow a defined path to keep the efficiency in networks. However, before a data packet is sent to the receiver, it is evenly distributed into blocks of information. Once the data packets arrive at the destination, they reassemble again.

Why does packet loss happen?

When packets travel within the network, sometimes they can’t make it through and won’t arrive at their destination. Data packets get lost or dropped in transit during their journey.

Thus, when packets are not successfully delivered, it slows down the speed of network traffic, as it causes a blockage. This creates a sort of congestion in the network throughput and takes upon bandwidth.

The risk of not acting soon to reduce the percentage of lost rate can be costly for MSPs. Investing in additional IT structure and adding more bandwidth to fix the latency caused by packet loss, would be needed.

What are the causes of packet loss?

The exact cause for data packet loss can be due to a variety of reasons. For example, the most common cause is network congestion. When the network traffic hits its maximum capacity, packets start queuing to be delivered. As a result, data packets get a hard hit when a network is catching up with traffic. However, most applications will resend the data packets or slow down the transfer speed to allow them to make it through.

Other reasons for packet loss could be overloaded devices or issues with the network hardware. Also, inadequate structure for handling packet loss, and even security threats in the network. However, there are ways to prevent packet loss, although it’s worth highlighting that it’s impossible to achieve zero packet loss. There will always be issues in the network, multiple client devices connected at the same time or overloaded devices. This would make it extremely difficult to achieve a zero % loss rate.

What can MSPs do to troubleshoot networks?

Troubleshooting networks with high levels of Latency and Jitter

The leading cause of high variations in Jitter and Latency on WiFi networks is a mix of bandwidth, potential interference, and the number of client devices connected to the network at the same time. To improve latency, MSPs need to work around these aspects. On the other side, variations in the amount of bandwidth used cause Jitter.

Hence, a slow connection speed would cause high latency. The more interference, the lower the bandwidth available to use. Finally, the more client devices connected to the network, the higher the variation in Jitter. Also, connected devices that aren’t transmitting data cause more interference, thus increasing levels of Jitter.

Apply these hacks to reduce latency and jitter levels

1. Hardware, hardware, hardware! Make sure your equipment is up to date with the current WiFi standards. Legacy access points don’t make proper use of the spectrum and can be more sensitive to noise, causing problems to signal, therefore affecting throughput.

2. One of the key recommendations is to reduce heavy users and get them to connect to the Ethernet, to take the load off from the WiFi network. However, in outdoor – medium and large scale deployments, this is not scalable, to not say nearly impossible. With the Tanaza platform, MSPs can limit the amount of bandwidth at the SSID and client level.

3. Assess the channel bonding of your wireless networks. For instance, newer devices allow users to have 40Mbps channels on the 2.4GHz and up to 160Mbps on the 5GHz. To lower the latency is essential to have more bandwidth.

4. Deploying more WiFi access points will help to increase the signal and provide more bandwidth, in consequence, reducing levels of latency and Jitter.

5. Set up multiple access points using different frequencies rather than using repeaters, which unfortunately help wasting bandwidth.

Troubleshooting WiFi networks with high packet loss rate

Our first recommendation before trying anything else. First, make sure all the access points and routers within the network are updated with the latest Tanaza firmware. Our R&D team always fixes bugs and issues with each firmware release.

Try these simple tricks to fix packet loss:

  1. Check all connections are properly configured and plugged-in correctly.
  2. Restart the whole system. It might give a clean jumpstart to the network pushing it to fix internal glitches or bugs.
  3. Remove any application or devices capable of causing static, like Bluetooth, wireless devices, and cameras.
  4. Use an Ethernet cable connection instead of WiFi. Packets tend to get lost easily over WiFi. Consider even a fiber optic cable to connect to the Internet.
  5. Consider, also replacing legacy hardware and look out for the network infrastructure, too.
  6. Deploy more access points. This will increase the signal and provide more bandwidth, thus reducing jitter and latency.

A final thought on this section: it is critical for optimal network performance to detect, troubleshoot, and prevent packet losses. However, it’s fundamental to keep in mind that packet loss happens, and no software in the market can stop this. Monitoring constantly the network and having visibility of it, is a way to prevent and lessen the impact on packet loss.

The golden rule for us at Tanaza is: “an issue you can see, an issue you can solve.” With the Tanaza platform, MSPs can have a complete overview of all their networks and organizations from a single dashboard. With the ping tool, MSPs can detect problems within the system and isolate them to find a solution. Feel free to reach out to our customer service team if you have any questions about how to solve the issues detected by the ping tool.

Read more…

If you would like to know how to run a Ping test in the Tanaza platform, read this step-by-step Ping tool guide, which will walk you through the entire process.

Are you ready to try Tanaza?

Jump in and experience our interactive demo with all the features Tanaza can offer to manage WiFi networks like a pro.

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MSPs – The ultimate guide to the 802.11ax wireless standard

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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.