The Wi-Fi Alliance recently interviewed Intel’s Doron Tal (General Manager, Wireless Infrastructure Group, Connected Home Division) about the past, present, and future of Wi-Fi. As we’ve previously discussed in The Ruckus Room, 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the popular and ever-evolving wireless standard.
According to Tal, the average home today has approximately 10-20 devices, a number that Intel expects to increase to 30-50 devices over the next year or so.
“Those devices are connecting over Wi-Fi and need fast, responsive and reliable connections to ensure the best experiences,” he explains. “Whether you are streaming HD video or creating and editing content or immersed in an online experience like gaming and virtual reality (VR), Wi-Fi is really important.”
The emergence of Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), says Tal, is a significant step forward to deliver home connectivity that is faster, more responsive and more reliable.
“With Wi-Fi 6, you’re now able to control the traffic from the access point (AP) to the client in a very managed and provisioned manner that can actually be monetized in new ways,” he states. “We see a clear trend on the infrastructure side that deployments are shifting from a single AP to a multi-node architecture with different types of extenders.”
In the future says, Tal, the market will see reliable, smart and seamless Wi-Fi that supports immersive 3D video and augmented reality in very high definition, as well as new use cases in broadcasting, IoT, sensing and machine learning.
“The key to realizing the highly impactful Wi-Fi of the future, as these new and more diverse device types get introduced to the network, will be a lot of focus on making these networks self-organizing and self-healing so that they can be optimized for different experiences,” he adds.
Commenting on the above, Ruckus’ Jeanette Lee, Sr. Director, Product Solutions and Technical Marketing, Ruckus Networks at CommScope, tells us that that Wi-Fi 6 is well on its way to bridging the performance gap towards ten-gigabit speeds.
“Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster network performance, connects more devices simultaneously and effectively transitions Wi-Fi from a best-effort endeavor to a deterministic wireless technology,” she explains. “Designed for high-density connectivity, Wi-Fi 6 offers up to a four-fold capacity increase over its Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) predecessor. This further solidifies Wi-Fi’s position as the de-facto medium for internet connectivity.”
The advancements of Wi-Fi 6, says Lee, will benefit a wide range of consumer use cases, although they are particularly important for dense environments in which large numbers of users and devices are connecting to the network. Some specific scenarios that will benefit from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard include large public venues (LPVs) such as stadiums, convention centers and transportation hubs.
“Stadiums and convention centers offer high-speed Wi-Fi to improve the fan experience, increase customer interaction and create value-added services such as showing instant replays on smartphones and tablets or allowing attendees to order food from their seats,” she states. “However, stadiums and convention centers with tens of thousands of users simultaneously connecting to Wi-Fi pose definite scale and density challenges. The Wi-Fi 6 advancements around OFDMA, 1024 QAM, OBSS coloring, as well as faster PHY rates, will make it easier for LPV owners to create new business opportunities by offering enhanced services for guests.”
In addition, says Lee, public transportation hubs are increasingly offering high-speed public Wi-Fi to passengers waiting for trains, buses, taxis and ride-sharing services.
“Like stadiums, transportation hubs have high densities of people attempting to connect to the networks simultaneously. However, these hubs face the unique challenge posed by transient devices that are not connecting to the Wi-Fi network but are still sending management traffic that congests it. OFDMA and BSS coloring, both of which are part of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, provide the tools to manage and mitigate these challenges,” she concludes.