The Wi-Fi industry is famous for churning out new technology at a feverish pace. Wi-Fi NOW is your chance to get to know four promising new Wi-Fi standards. Here’s a brief preview:
802.11ax: Goodbye, contention.
Building on the success of 802.11ac, 802.11ax will serve up big improvements in every performance category, including speed, serving more devices, better high-density performance, even improved range – just to name a few. Perhaps the biggest improvement will be the use of (LTE-style) OFDMA scheduling in the uplink, which will finally do away with contention. We think ax is going to be another seismic shift in wireless.
Quantenna was the first to release an 802.11ax chipset based on the draft spec, and has since released this 802.11ax-complaint chipset. At Wi-Fi NOW DC this past April we were delighted that Qualcomm was on hand to give us all the details of their approach to ax.
WiGig: We could call it 5G. But we won’t.
So what’s so great about 802.11ad aka WiGig? Well, first of all there’s an enormous amount of spectrum available for this, specifically (for the US) 9 GHz in the 60 GHz band (V-band).
Secondly – and contrary to popular belief – 802.11ad is not just for short-range, in-home Wi-Fi ‘on steroids’ at gigabit speeds. It’s a real & viable FWA option for outdoor applications, too. Some sources quote 500 meters or more as the maximum range, which opens up for a host of use cases that we’ve not seen before in Wi-Fi.
Facebook is reportedly using 802.11ad as the basis for it’s Terragraph project now being tested in San Jose City, and some of Siklu’s (not strictly 11ad but 60 GHz, yes) products have been deployed by Google’s WISP acquisition Webpass. Also read this excellent blog by Siklu on the evolution of millimetre wave.
It’s still early days for WiGig but we managed to coerce Canada-based Peraso into joining us at Wi-Fi NOW DC for a deep-dive into the details. They’re one of a handful of companies with Wi-Fi Alliance certified WiGig products right now.
Since WiGig operates in millimetre-wave bands, the beams are pencil-thin, which in turn means that interference is largely avoided. Thin beams also means that 11ad will eventually lend itself well to location-based services with pin-point accuracy. The bad news is that WiGig signals can be stopped even by leaves on trees. So a lot of careful LOS planning needs to be done.
802.11ay: We could call this ‘5G on steroids’. But we won’t do that either.
If a couple of gigabits per second of WiGig is not fast enough for you, the IEEE’s already got plans for more. And by more we mean a lot more. The 802.11ay standard – which is being prepared now – will bond up to four 2.16 GHz (802.11ad) channels together, stir in some MIMO, and serve up a staggering 176 Gbps of speed.
The draft spec for 11ay is expected to be ready this summer. For the life of me I can’t think of who or what would need 176 Gbps even at short range. But hey, I’m sure that eventually, someone will come up with a use case.
HaLow: What IoT entrepreneurs may have been waiting for
Wi-Fi is already connecting countless ‘things’ around the house and elsewhere, but mass market IoT is begging for low power and extended range. To that end the Wi-Fi Alliance has created the designation ‘HaLow’ for the new 802.11ah standard operating in the unlicensed 900 MHz band.
HaLow slices the 900 MHz band into narrow channels (down to 2 MHz) and covers a much wider area than regular Wi-Fi. California-based Newracom has successfully tested HaLow at a distance of more than 1 kilometres. We think that HaLow will address an impressive number of IoT use cases.
But here’s the main reason why HaLow is a big deal: It piggybacks on an existing Wi-Fi ecosystem of billions of devices and a litany of vendors. We’re pretty sure that HaLow already has prospective entrepreneurs scheming to disrupt the IoT world.