IEEE 802.11ax: The Game Changer

Why is there so much hype around the proposed IEEE standard? We can sum that up in three words; speed, agility, capacity.  But, three words may not do the new Wi-Fi standard justice, so read on for a more indepth look at why 802.11ax is a game changer.

802.11ax, the latest IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard, is expected to be released in early 2019. Because of its speed (four to ten times faster than 802.11ac) and capacity it’s going to become a critical component of mobile-first strategies. While 802.11ax will be used everywhere, it’s especially intended to solve wireless connectivity problems in high-density edge environments such as transportation hubs, office buildings, sports venues, etc.

802.11ax is a game changer (literally) because it will be able to accommodate a large number of users and IoT devices accessing the network simultaneously. Think about going to the big game. Before it starts, you have no trouble accessing the internet. Then the big play happens and you have thousands of people trying to get online to tweet, snapchat, text and otherwise share the news with friends not lucky enough to snag a ticket to the game. The result? Spinning, spinning and more spinning. Frustrated, you give up. 802.11ax will end the frustration and get you online pronto.

Reduce network congestion
AX is expected to have a maximum data rate of 1.3 Gbps, will operate in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies and will be backward compatible with 802.11ac/n.

To achieve the significant speed and capacity increase, AX will layer MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) with orthogonal frequency-division multiple access technology. This enables a large number of devices to use the same access point at the same time rather than sequentially. Imagine a cashier in a store being able to wait on four people at the same time. While customer one pulls out the credit card, customer two is being rung up, and so on.

Technologically, AX will provide more efficient spectrum utilisations as well. It creates broader channels and splits them into narrower subchannels, each with a different frequency. That enables eight simultaneous streams, which can then be split into four additional streams boosting the effective bandwidth per user by four times.

In addition, 802.11ax is truly next generation Wi-Fi with the ability to accommodate an equal amount of simultaneous uploads and downloads. Previous generations of Wi-Fi were based on the premise that there would be mostly downloads rather than uploads, which was true. Not anymore.

AX and IoT
802.11ax will be a boon for Internet of Things sensors and equipment in congested environments, such as hospitals and smart buildings where you’ll have tens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of devices demanding simultaneous access. It won’t just increase the speed of the network, it will also quadruple the speeds of the individual wireless clients.

Extend battery life
A side benefit of 802.11ax is that it will improve battery life of devices. A time-wake feature enables access points to tell devices when to go to sleep and when to wake. Although these may be very short periods of time, seconds, it adds up over time and results in extended battery life. If you’re enabling hundreds of IoT sensors, that’s a big deal.

When to upgrade
The answer is upgrade when you need to, which could be now in terms of accommodating more users and improving wireless capacity. Although the IEEE 802.11 releases new standards approximately every five to six years (g in 2003, n in 2009 and ac in 2013), forward-thinking IT administrators typically upgrade their wireless networks every three years. It’s estimated that 802.11ax will have wide-spread adoption by 2020, but manufacturers are already producing equipment with ax chipsets. Once 802.11ax is ratified, compliance can be as simple as a firmware update. So if you need more speed, bandwidth and capacity, don’t wait.

If you’re thinking about your mobile-first strategy, talk to Black Box now. We can help you make mobility happen with the right intelligent edge foundational technology.  When you enable mobility, you enable connectivity at the digital edge.

Learn more at Blackbox.co.uk

Learn more about all the IEEE 802.11 standards here.

 

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