A wise man once wrote: ‘Nature abhors a vacuum’. And with so-called 5G years away at best, the wireless industry is facing just that. So what will satisfy wireless consumers, businesses, and (not least!) wireless entrepreneurs in the interim?
Realistically, precious little will happen in cellular over the next 3-4 years as carriers & vendors try to transform 5G from hype into reality. That’s a gigantic task, by the way. Personally I think they will fail. In the meantime that vacuum is an opportunity.
In the past ten years or so, Wi-Fi has raced past any other wireless tech in terms of speed. It’s also by a long shot the most popular wireless tech regardless of whether you measure that by number of devices, bytes consumed, or time spent.
Right now another seismic shift in wireless is in the pipeline and it will happen for real over the next 18 months or so. That shift is next generation Wi-Fi and it’s called 802.11ax. The new ax Wi-Fi standard promises big improvements in every performance category.
So what does that mean? Well, for starters more capacity, even four times as much (says Qualcomm). We also expect ax to serve dozens of devices per home very efficiently. And what’s more: 802.11ax does away with so-called contention and introduces scheduling for the uplink (similar to LTE). That means devices no longer have to battle each other for bandwidth. That alone will be a big hike in quality.
We also expect to see a significant range improvement. That’s exciting for next gen City Wi-Fi networks and other service providers out there including cellcos offering Wi-Fi Calling. It also means better outdoor Wi-Fi for campuses, MDUs, you name it.
Conclusion: If you’re in the wireless business you should be preparing for 802.11ax (or at least doing some serious thinking about it) very soon. It’s going to be a big change – and it fits very nicely into the next 4 years of cellular limbo.
Above: All the bells & whistles of 802.11ax will vastly improve Wi-Fi in every performance category. Courtesy Qualcomm.