WELCOME TO THE WORLD 802.11AX

With ever-growing wireless demands, IEEE introducing a new standard couldn’t have come soon enough. 802.11ax (or High-Efficiency Wireless) promises a fourfold increase in average throughput when compared to 802.11ac and is designed for high-density environments such as trains, stadiums and airports and wireless-first enterprises. Increased capacity will especially benefit companies like us here at Natilik who rely on using videoconferencing applications such as WebEx.

WHAT IS IT TRYING TO SOLVE?

The fundamental issues being faced at the moment are that bandwidth is shared among an overload of endpoint devices, access points can have overlapping coverage areas and are therefore working above maximum capacity. So, if you’ve ever been stood in a crowded stadium or airport or tried to stream a video on a peak time train, it is very likely that the efficiency and performance of the WiFi you were using was suffering greatly.

IEEE are promising that we can now look forward to improved performance, extended coverage and longer battery life on our devices. Coupled with the delivery of a single stream at 3.5 Gbps and four simultaneous streams to a single endpoint for a total bandwidth of 14 Gbps, wireless life is about to get a whole lot easier.

JUST TELL ME HOW IT WORKS!!!

Not to focus too much on the negatives (mainly because no one wants to be reminded of all the times they’ve had to suffer at the hands of an under-performing WiFi network), let’s talk about how 802.11ax is going to make our lives easier.

Taking a variety of existing and already well-utilised wireless techniques, 802.11ax combines them to blow previous standards out of the park. The introduction of MU-MIMO streams (Multi User, Multi Input, Multiple Output) can increase your capacity by serving up to 8 clients simultaneously, whilst OFDMA will then break each stream down into 4 sub-channels and increase your throughput. You will also see an improvement in battery life across your mobile devices, with the extended coverage promised uses less power to maintain high modulation/throughput. In turn, with more sophisticated QAM modulation, improved MU-MIMO handling and more OFDMA sub-channels available, we are now looking at 14Gbps maximum theoretical throughput! Achieving this kind of speed would require multigigabit connectivity to the APs and clients capable of using 8 Spatial Streams (SS). Today, most clients support 1 or 2SS, leaving tons of room for future growth, making WiFi6 a safe investment.

This offering will also include dual-band operation, meaning that whilst WiFi5 was operating in the 5GHz range only WiFi6 will operate in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing for more capacity and better legacy support in suitable environments.

WHEN IS IT HAPPENING?

We’re expecting to see mass adoption taking place in 2020, however, the more tech savvy WiFi geeks among us, and especially those running high-density Wi-Fi networks, should begin to pilot projects as soon as possible.

Maciej Deryng, Network Project Engineer