30 October. 2019

WI-FI 6: What can we expect?

Expectations to the new wireless technol­ogy range from better stability to reduced costs and less carbon emissions. In this article, we delve into some of the prospects of the new Wi-Fi standard 802.11ax – or in popular terms: Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6. It is the buzzword – and for good reasons. The fact that we have more and more connected devices in our home puts greater demand on our Wi-Fi solution than ever before. And the current generation of wireless technology simply won’t do the job. Wi-Fi 6 will. With its promise to deliver ten times faster internet it can meet the requirements of today’s consumers. But its key advantages go beyond speed.

According to Stephane Renaud, Senior Product Manager at Quantenna Communications, who provide chipsets for Icotera’s Wi-Fi 6 routers, the big promise with 11ax isn’t speed, even though Quantenna has unique assets to offer faster Access Points.

- The core technology of Wi-Fi 6 is some­thing called ‘OFDMA’ which is inherited from 4G and already deployed in the mobile world. It allows a new dimension of transferring information from an access point to multiple clients, he says.

Stephane Re­naud describes how you get parallel com­munication with OFDMA, which allows the access point to break up information into chunks. These chunks are then sent out to various clients. Instead of one cli­ent is fed with all the information at once, while the other wait, parallel communica­tion gives one client a chunk, then a chunk to the second client, then the third and so on. This will result in reduced latency in, for example, dense office buildings with multiple clients awaiting data. The same enhanced effect should be experienced by consumers and gamers in similar dense environments.

Also, Wi-Fi 6 opens new channels of data transfer, most commonly referred to as ‘6 GHz band’ providing more space for the consumer to operate with. This means less interference as fewer people will be using the same channels in the same neighborhood.

Won’t 5G Make Wi-Fi 6 Routers Obsolete?

Not according to Jimmy Jessen Nielsen, who is Associate Professor at the Department of Electronic Systems at Aalborg University. In fact, Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will complement each other – just like 4G and 11ac do today:

 - The individual mobile operators only have a fixed bandwidth to serve all users in a geographical area. Imagine a large number of people in the same neighborhood uses 5G to stream Virtual Reality at the same time. In such a case, a lot of extra 5G base stations will be needed to support the required data transfer, unless Wi-Fi 6 and wired internet connections are used to offload some of the traffic, he explains.

Also, the signal is drastically weakened when it penetrates huge office buildings – such buildings rely on routers for a signal inside. At the same time, routers have a short range and without 5G, people will not be able to take the internet with them after they have taken a certain number of steps away from a router.

Wi-Fi 6: A step towards a greener planet

Expectations to the new Wi-Fi generations go beyond improved Wi-Fi performance, if you ask Birgitte Hass, CEO of Den­mark’s leading industry association for IT-and telecommunications, IT-Branchen. According to her, society needs technologies like Wi-Fi 6 to improve infrastructure.

Such improve­ments will enable businesses to reduce costs and ultimately have a positive effect on the environment. She uses internation­al meetings as an example:

- Next-genera­tion Wi-Fi will enable companies to host international meetings online. In the fu­ture, we can have virtual meetings where it would seem as if all parties are physical­ly present in one location. This will reduce the need to get on an airplane, which in turn will reduce carbon emissions, she says.

Birgitte Hass therefore do doubt that it is the digitalization that will save the planet.

Consider your individual need

However, the shift to Wi-Fi 6 is not going to be free of charge. Birgitte Hass points out that the launch of a new technology calls for upgrading. People will have to buy devices that are ready for Wi-Fi 6. And businesses need to upgrade their infrastructure. This, of course, comes at a certain price.

For this reason, Erik Søe-Pedersen, Chief Commercial Officer at Icotera advises internet service providers, businesses and consumers to take a step back and look at their individ­ual needs.

- With the expected hype on Wi-Fi 6, you would easily imagine that you need to invest in a jumbo jet. But that might not be the case as you don’t need to upgrade all your devices and solu­tions from day one of Wi-Fi 6. You will be able to exploit some of the benefits of next generation Wi-Fi with certain ser­vices, devices and computers. How, will depend on the provider, the consumer or the company, he says.

Icotera is ready to meet to talk about the perspectives and the possibilities with Wi-Fi 6, launch dates in specific regions, and how to get ready for the next step in wireless fidelity.

If you would like to get in touch, please reach out to info@icotera.com


WANT to Deliver an internet experience – or just a box?

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Find the guide: 5 mistakes to avoid when offering Wi-Fi here

Icotera E-book: The ISP guide to offering Wi-Fi service Icotera guide: 5 mistakes to avoid when offering Wi-Fi