Breaking News

Wi-Fi news from Mercku

Auto-negotiation, or negotiation speed, refers to a signaling mechanism that allows ethernet interfaces of two connected devices to determine the optimal speed and duplex mode of the connection. For instance, wired routers make use of these interfaces to communicate with devices on their local network. Auto-negotiation parameters can be set automatically by the devices themselves or manually, so it’s important to note how to optimize this for the best connections in your smart home. Read on to learn more!

When discussing auto-negotiation, there are some terms to keep in mind:

  1. Interface – this describes a physical port on a given network device, such as a router, a switch, server, or a hub, that is capable of transmitting data from one device to another
  2. Speed – It is usually displayed in megabits per second (Mbps), and it is the rate of each interface. Interfaces can have ethernet speed rates of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and 1000 Mbps, which is also known as Gigabit Ethernet.
  3. Duplex – Refers to how data is transmitted on the interface. Interfaces can be either half-duplex or full-duplex:
    • Half-duplex interfaces can only transmit or receive data at one time. For example, a hub (e.g. printer, speaker, etc) is always a half-duplex, since only one device can communicate with it at once. This is possibly why they are barely used anymore.
    • Full-duplex interfaces, on the other hand, can both transmit and receive data simultaneously. For example, a switch or telephone is a full-duplex interface that allows several devices on your network to communicate at once.

How Auto-Negotiation Works

Auto-negotiation is a protocol, specified in clause 28 of the IEEE 802.3. standard, that has a simple, albeit important objective: to establish the best mode of connection between devices. Here’s a brief rundown of what happens during the auto-negotiation process:

  • Each interface shares its parameters via Fast Link Pulses (FLP’s): duplex mode (full-duplex or half-duplex) and ethernet speed (10, 100, 1000 Mbps)
  • The interfaces select the highest transmission rate they can both support to achieve the highest performance:

Imagine interface A and interface B. Interface A has the capability of sustaining 10, 100, or 1000 Mbps speed at either half or full-duplex. Interface B, however, can only achieve 10 or 100 Mbps at either half or full-duplex. In this scenario, the best possible option is to transmit at 100 Mbps full-duplex. Naturally, the highest speed is preferred over the lowest, and full-duplex achieves better results than half-duplex.

Further Considerations

For auto-negotiation to occur, both interfaces must be configured to negotiate automatically. While this may come off as obvious, it’s actually one of the main reasons that problems occur when auto-negotiating.

When one of the interfaces is auto-negotiating and the other is not, that means that only one interface is sending FLPs that contain information regarding its capabilities. If this is the case, the other interface has already hard-set a speed rate and a duplex mode, making it impossible to negotiate with its link partner.

Because one of the interfaces has already set at which speed and duplex it will be operating, the device that is negotiating must determine itself what are the appropriate speed and duplex mode to connect to its link partner. At this point, the negotiating interface can determine at which speed its partner is communicating – 10, 100, or 1000 Mbps – because each of these ethernet speeds have different signaling methods. However, what the negotiating interface cannot decipher is its link partners’ duplex mode, which in many cases can lead to a mismatch.

What Should I Do If A Mismatch Occurs?

First things first – what causes a mismatch? Due to the odd human error, as explained above, failing to determine duplex mode is the main cause for mismatch between interfaces. Let’s see why.

For one, the interface that is already auto-negotiating is unable to know at which duplex mode its link partner is operating, since it is unable to negotiate due to being hard-set. In order to avoid a mismatch, the negotiating partner must use the same speed as the hard-set interface (which it can communicate), but in accordance with the 802.3. standard, it must connect at half-duplex – the default duplex for Ethernet. Most of the times this action will result in a duplex mismatch between interfaces.

In turn, because one of the interfaces can both send and receive simultaneously and the other is only able to either send or receive, the mismatch will generate collisions on the link connecting the two devices, particularly on the half-duplex side. In the end, a mismatch impacts overall performance, and can reduce throughput and increase the number of error counts on the affected interfaces.

The best way to avoid a mismatch is to make sure that the settings on both sides are set to auto-negotiate. Nonetheless, you could also configure the settings manually, but keep in mind that both interfaces would have to be configured the same way. If one interface is set at 100 Mbps, full-duplex, the interface it’s going to connect with must also be set at 100 Mbps, full-duplex.

Mercku steps up corporate social responsibility and makes the switch to more sustainable packaging.

We take the initiative to bear social responsibility and switch our product packaging into kraft paper material, reduce plastic use, and reduce unnecessary material to reduce carbon footprint and protect the environment.

Why do we promote corporate social responsibility?

At Mercku, it is paramount that our users know that they can have peace of mind when it comes to connectivity and a sense of responsibility towards social causes dear to them when purchasing our products.

Internally, Mercku aims to empower all of our employees to leverage the resources at their disposal to drive positive impact. Every staff member on our team is working to bring the company’s vision to life – leverage the most advanced technology building powerful smart-home products, to enhance daily life globally.

Why is sustainable packaging one of the most significant changes to implement?

As a consumer product-based company, Mercku M2 and M6 devices are shipped to over 24 countries worldwide, which means Mercku’s presence truly has a global reach.

By adopting sustainable packaging and using biodegradable materials such as kraft paper instead of traditional materials, such as plastic or styrofoam, Mercku uses a creative design mindset to protect the product from damage during transportation while lowering our footprint. As a result, each shipped unit contributes to reducing landfill waste.

What can be called sustainable packaging? 

To be considered sustainable, a packaging concept should meet these four criteria:

  1. Materials are sourced sustainably
  2. Disposal options support recycling and/or composting
  3. The design is optimized for maintaining product quality
  4. The cost of production is feasible for long-term application

What is Mercku’s approach to keeping our packaging sustainable?

The new, more eco-friendly packaging is made of recyclable and strong kraft paper. We’ve removed the plastic from the previous packaging inside the box and replaced it with a recyclable paper-based option to provide a sustainable packaging method and encourage recycling. 

Our designers have reimagined the packaging of the products and reduced the box sizes to reduce material waste without compromising packaging integrity.

We plan to roll out the new packaging version across our product line in the next few months.

What can you do to give the old packaging a new life?

Give the existing packaging a new life. Please reuse and recycle!

Tag us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and show us how you use your creativity to reuse and recycle your Mercku box to win 10% off* for your next order!

*We will select the top five creative minds to share an 10% off for your next Mercku order.

What to learn more about connectivity? Check out our latest article on Wi-Fi Roaming; the way it works might surprise you! You could also check these sources for more info on sustainability: NatureFreshSmallBusinessBonfire

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware, and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected].

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases!

What is Wi-Fi Roaming?

Have you ever wondered how your WiFi connection follows you around the building? This useful networking feature is called Roaming. WiFi roaming occurs when a wireless client device moves outside the usable range of one router or access point (AP) and connects to a different one. The client device automatically switches from one router (or access point) to another extender or mesh access point as needed to provide seamless connectivity. In this ideal scenario, you will not experience the inconvenience of choppy video calls and low download speeds when walking from one side of a building to another.

How does WiFi Roaming work?

In theory, WiFi roaming works similarly to cell phone roaming. You need to have multiple access points throughout the building – be it a hospital, school, workplace, etc., so that as soon as you’re near the outer limits of one of the access point’s range, your device is already in the range of another. In order to work seamlessly, all of the WiFi access points in the network need to be configured to use the same SSID (or network name) and the same login credentials.

However, WiFi roaming is decided by the client device, like your cellphone or laptop. WiFi Standards organizations (e.g. IEEE802.11 and WiFi Alliance) do not specify when or how a client device should roam. The wireless client device is responsible for deciding if it needs to roam and then detecting, evaluating, and roaming to another access point. There are 3 phases to this process:

  1. Scanning: As the signal strength weakens as you move away from a point, the client device sends out probe packets to identify possible alternative access points. The device then selects its next access point based on the specifications of the device itself.
  2. Authentication: The client device sends a request to the selected access point to be authenticated and awaits a response from the new access point that will either accept or reject it.
  3. Re-association:  When (and if) the access point accepts the client device’s request, the client device sends yet another request, this time a re-association one. When the re-association is complete, the new access point sends out a disassociation packet to the former access point. The old access point is then disconnected, and the routing tables are updated.

Benefits of WiFi Roaming

Mobility is an essential feature of WiFi networks, but building a WiFi network that provides continuous coverage throughout a building can be difficult, especially as coverage demands grow. If you have ever experienced a sudden drop in connection speed while walking across a building, you know what we mean. The issue that most likely caused the drops in your connection was the network’s failure to support roaming. This issue can be solved by deploying the right network design.

WiFi Roaming allows you to freely move from room to room while your device automatically roams from one access point to another as necessary, intuitively choosing the strongest access point without dropping its WiFi signal, providing seamless connectivity. While there’s always a brief interruption when switching between networks – around half a second – when roaming, the duration of that interruption can be reduced to a minimum if the devices use the same WiFi network names (SSID’s), WiFi channels, and network keys.

Common Issues with Wi-Fi Roaming

There are two main issues when it comes to Wi-Fi Roaming:

  1. The client device that is using WiFi Roaming does not connect to the optimal access point. For example, a client device can be connected to a weak access point (in terms of signal strength) even though there is another access point available that can provide much stronger signal strengths,
  2. The handover between access points is not always flawless. There can be device drop-off and delays.

Installing more access points in an area can potentially increase the chances of a client device connecting to the optimal access point.

However, proper WiFi roaming requires more than just good signal strength throughout coverage areas. A balance between the coverage of access points on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands is needed to make roaming work properly.

How to Optimize Your Network

For WiFi Roaming to be beneficial for the user, the user’s device must connect to the optimal access point, and the handover process between access points must be smooth. The user device should be connected to a particular WiFi network and should constantly be scanning for other access points with the same SSID. If an access point with a better signal is found, the user device should seamlessly connect to it and drop the previous connection. This handover should not result in a poor experience for the end-user.

As mentioned earlier, installing more access points can be an easy fix, but it doesn’t always work. Ensuring WiFi roaming is successful requires more than just strong signal coverage. It requires each access point’s coverage to be balanced on both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. But what does have “balanced” access points mean?

To optimize and balance access points, you can consider these tips:

  1. Overlap your mesh nodes or extenders by 15-20% – Too much overlap can cause access points to become overloaded and devices may repeatedly jump between nodes and become unstable. With too little overlap, users may experience temporary drop-offs.
  1. Signal boundary between access points should be about –67 dBm (decibels relative to a milliwatt). A dBm essentially measures the power of a signal being transmitted from an access point. The closer the dBm measurement is to 0, the better the signal strength is. -67 dBm is the minimum signal strength necessary for a client device to have stable and fast access to the internet. Thus, access points need to be placed and overlapped in a way that prevents any device from leaving the –67 dBm range. It is important to consider both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands while evaluating signal strength in areas, as the range of the 2.4 GHz band is larger than the range of the 5 GHz band.

Did you know that Mercku M2 and Mercku M6 routers support WiFi roaming?

Learn more about this and more on Mercku.com.

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected] 

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases!

The increased usage of smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices around the world is creating a growing demand for more reliable network coverage and higher and faster data transmission. Cellular networks such as 4G LTE use frequencies between 600MHz to 700MGz and 2.5GHz to 3.7GHz bands, allowing for waves to travel further and cover more area, but at the cost of lower speeds. As technological innovation persists, data consumption is only going to increase, and we need a way to make data transmission faster and more efficient. A promising technology that can be used for this purpose is millimetre wave, also referred to as mmWave.

Millimetre wave is the band of spectrum with frequencies between 30GHz to 300GHz. Compared to the frequencies used for cellular networks and Wi-Fi today, mmWave has significantly higher frequencies, which allows for higher data transfer speeds.

How does mmWave’s higher frequencies increase data transmission speeds?

Well, higher frequency transmissions have greater bandwidth, which measures the data transfer capacity of a network in bits per second. This means that with mmWave technology, a greater amount of data can be transferred per second, resulting in much higher network speeds.

Millimetre Wave technology gets its name from the fact that the wavelengths of the 30GHz to 300GHz frequencies span a distance of 1 – 10 millimetres. This wavelength is significantly shorter than the radio waves currently used by smartphones, whose wavelengths are around several dozen millimetres. Currently, the mmWave technology is primarily used by radar systems and satellites, with its reach rapidly expanding to 5G cellular networks and remote sensing. Before we discuss the uses of mmWave technology and how it’s affecting the transmission of data, let us consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of using mmWave technology.

Advantages of mmWave Technology

Millimetre wave technology has various applications, spanning industries like radio astronomy, remote sensing, satellites, military weaponry, security screening and telecommunications. Further advancements in mmWave open up the possibilities of creating many unique technologies more effective and efficient.

From a wireless communications’ standpoint, mmWave does support faster transmission. However, due to its shorter wavelength, its signal propagation of mmWave is relatively short, meaning it can travel less distance when compared to more lengthy radio waves. These characteristics of mmWave prove to be beneficial. Shorter transmission paths limit interference from neighbouring mmWaves that might overlap, which helps maintain high data transmission speeds. The short propagation distances can also increase the number of required access points in a given area, reducing the number of devices sharing bandwidth. Shorter wavelengths allow access point antennas to be smaller in size than other frequencies, making them useful for smaller data-transmitting devices.

Disadvantages of mmWave Technology

The main disadvantage of mmWave technology is that they are strongly affected by gases and moisture in the air, negatively affecting their range and strength. Rain and humidity reduce the waves’ signal strength and propagation distance. The propagation distance of mmWaves is already not as high as other frequencies, so all these obstacles prove to be quite damaging. Moreover, physical objects such as trees, walls, buildings, and people can weaken wave strength and reduce propagation. This disposition to signal loss is why mmWave technology is currently mostly used by devices that need to transfer data over shorter distances or devices that are located in obstacle-free areas.

Promising Uses of mmWave Technology 

Let’s further look into some of the more specific uses of mmWave technology in terms of 5G cellular network and remote sensing:

5G Cellular Network

There are two types of 5G networks. The first one being mmWave, which is the type of 5G that is talked about in reference to high and improving network speeds. The second type is sub-6Hz, which is the 5G that most people worldwide are connected to today.

As discussed previously, mmWave refers to higher frequency bands in the 30GHz to 300GHz (although for 5G, mmWave will refer to frequency bands between 30GHz to 40GHz). Comparatively, sub-6Hz refers to lower frequencies under 6Hz. mmWave bands can transmit data faster, which is why they can support breakneck network speeds. Even though mmWave 5G networks are fast, the shorter wave propagation prevents them from being used in suburban and rural areas. People, walls, trees, and other obstructions in these areas make this issue worse. To use mmWave 5G, you must be within a block of a 5G tower, which isn’t a feasible thing for most communities. For the mmWave 5G network to be available for people in suburban and rural areas, there would need to be many more 5G towers installed, which is a considerable cost most carriers are unwilling to take on.

Because of mmWave’s limited range, it has been challenging to implement mmWave 5G in most areas around the world. Nonetheless, the technological advancements related to data transmission devices and antennas have allowed for mmWave to show lots of potential for 5G users in the future. Theoretically, mmWave 5G can deliver speeds up to 5Gb/s, compared to the current average of 40mb/s.

Remote Sensing: 

mmWave remote sensing incorporates the usage of mmWave radars, which are a type of sensing technology used to detect the movement and position of objects, and determine the velocity and angle of those objects. There are many different uses of remote sensing using mmWave radars. For example, mmWave radars are used by many automotive companies for traffic control. Moreover, mmWave radars can determine the distance between adjacent vehicles, which can help prevent collisions. The rate at which the mmWaves are reflected off a neighbouring vehicle could help determine the distance to the next vehicle.

Another use of mmWave’s remote sensing capabilities is health monitoring and human motion detection. mmWave signals are so sensitive that they can detect subtle changes in an environment, including some of the biological functions of the human body. For example, you could use a device that uses mmWave technology to monitor a user’s heartbeat and breathing without the use of sensors, wearables or implants. This is a unique technology in which the user would not have use any wearables to gather data.

Let’s also consider respiration rate monitoring. A signal is sent from the mmWave device out into the environment. When you inhale, your chest inflates, making the distance from the signal’s origin to its destination a tiny bit shorter. When you exhale, the signal needs to travel a little further. By monitoring these variances in the signal, your system could deduce and monitor your respiration rate. Over time, the algorithms in the system will learn what is normal for you and take motion into account (e.g. during exercise). So, for instance, if you have an allergic reaction and your respiration rate suddenly changes drastically, your system could be programmed to respond by dialing the emergency services.

For more information on Mercku’s remote sensing, check out our upcoming product: Mercku Wireless Intelligence Sensing (WISe)

Want to learn more about wireless sensing? Read more about our latest partnership with Aerial to provide best-in-class WiFi Sensing Services!

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected]

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases!

 Introduction to broadcast, unicast and multicast 

In the last decade, video streaming has become essential to how we consume entertainment, how students learn, and how businesses cooperate. The evolution of streaming habits and technology has changed significantly along the way. This blog will shed light on the technology behind online videos, including multicast, unicast, and broadcast, and introduces which technology is the best for your streaming habits.   

What is broadcast, and how is it utilized?

 

When we think of broadcasting, we often think first of television and radio. However, the capacity of broadcasting technology is underestimated in two crucial ways. To startlet’s take a look at the definition of broadcasting.  

Broadcast transmission is a “one-to-all” technique that ensures all nodes on a network receive the signal or message.  

Given its power and convenience of mass distribution, the broadcasting industry has a role in all three venues of the convergence marketplace – content, distribution, and processing. In terms of content, broadcasting is already the dominant producer of digital content to the public.  

Here are some examples of successful use cases of broadcasting in different media: 

  • Television (digital and analog);
  • Radio;
  • Internet media like websites, blogs, andpodcasts; 
  • Online streaming.

Source: https://www.haivision.com/blog/broadcast-video/difference-between-unicast-vs-multicast/ 

Why have other technologies like unicast or multicast flourished if broadcasting can do it all? 

Apart from broadcast, there are two other technologies, called unicast and multicast, both of which serve very distinct purposes. Here are the requirements that you’ll need to understand each of them better. 

Unicast Explained 

Let’s take a look at Netflix – one of the pioneers of how unicast helps in the modern online streaming world. 

In a nutshell, unicast is a “one-to-one” streaming. Typically, it is used in Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming applications (OTT is a term used to describe streaming over the internet), such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming providers of this type.  

More specifically, the advantage of unicast streaming is the ability for the endpoints to receive video based on the device being served and the available bandwidth. For example, getting a 4K/8K feed for the smart TV, a full-HD feed on the smartphone, or a low-res feed for an older device – or anyone with lower bandwidth.  

In a word, the internet is unpredictable, and without the right tools (in this case, using unicast technology) to mitigate potential bandwidth fluctuations and limitations, the end-user experience can end up being less than optimal.   

Source: https://www.panopto.com/blog/the-way-video-works-online-has-changed/  


Multicast Explained:   Opposite to unicast, multicast is one-to-many streaming. You send information from one point to many endpoints simultaneously, and the most common example of a multicast application is Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). There is one centralized server, and that server sends a single, continuous stream to many endpoints. 

Here are some other examples of multicast applications: 

  • Voice over IP (VOIP)  
  • Video on demand (VOD)  
  • Video conferencing  

The IP network offers far more flexibility within the network, enabling two-way interactions that traditional, one-way cable or satellite broadcast networks. It allows end-users to have more control and options to interact and personalize their experience.  

Multicast routing is a networking method for the efficient distribution of one-to-many traffic. It specifically tackles live audio and video transfers such as live video conferences. Thankfully, routers could have this function built-in for the most optimal internet experience with audio and video transfers.  

Source: https://www.uscreen.tv/blog/what-is-iptv/ 

In conclusion, IP has three fundamental types of addresses: unicast, broadcast, and multicast.   

The differences among unicast, broadcast, and multicast can be summarized as follows for you in a key takeaway: 

  • Broadcast: One-to-all, from one source to all possible destinations, applications such as television, radio, websites, blogs, and podcasts.   
  • Unicast: One-to-one, from one source to one destination, for applications like Netflix and Amazon Prime.   
  • Multicast: One-to-many, from one source to multiple destinations expressing an interest in receiving the traffic, applications such as IPTV.   

What to learn more about wireless security? Read our WPA3 blog and find more!  

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected]   

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases! 

Mercku and Aerial Partner to provide Best in Class Wi-Fi Sensing Services

Montreal, May18th, 2021 – Aerial Technologies, a Montreal-based AI company and Mercku, a Waterloo Canada-based Smart Home Connectivity company, announced today their partnership to bring best-in-class Wi-Fi Sensing to service providers.

“At Mercku, we pride ourselves on leading the world’s most innovative smart home products,” says Alex Qi CEO of Mercku, “and with our new partnership alongside Aerial and their vision for ubiquitous sensing intelligence, together, we can enhance daily life globally.”

Mercku is excited to welcome Aerial as their official Wi-Fi Sensing partner with Mercku’s award-winning M6 AX system. The M6, Mercku’s latest Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, was designed with the vision to connect the world through cutting-edge advancements in wireless communication technology, using their founders’ decades of expertise in networking technology and their Red Dot Award winning design team. Mercku is laser-focused on pushing wireless technology boundaries to realize its mission to leverage the most advanced technology, building powerful smart home products to enhance daily life globally.

Aerial as the pioneer of Wi-Fi Sensing (with foundational patents dating back to 2010) has developed a Wi-Fi based Motion Intelligence platform with the mission to provide the most robust and advanced suite of ambient sensing-based applications to their service provider customers and partners.

“At Aerial we believe that great partners are key to experiencing the exciting true potential of Wi-Fi sensing and the services and applications it enables” says Steve Sifferman, Aerial’s CEO. “Mercku has a great platform and an innovative spirit which is akin to Aerial’s qualities, and we are very excited to be working together.”

As homes become more autonomous and connected, a robust Wi-Fi foundation is necessary in providing the ability to sense, simplify and secure their inhabitant’s lives. This progressive outlook on the future of connectivity is at the core of the design and functionality of all Mercku products, and the M6 will serve as the platform for Aerial to push the limits of motion intelligence.

For their customers, this combination of Mercku’s specialized RF hardware design and Aerial’s AI powered software, ensures market leading Wi-Fi Sensing performance as well as provides a future-proof platform for deploying the most advanced services and applications in the industry.

 

About Aerial Technologies

Established in 2015 endorsed by industry leaders, Aerial Technologies is the pioneer in Wi-Fi Motion Intelligence. Aerial’s patented and award-winning AI based technology analyzes wireless infrastructure to infer human activities and enable customers and partners to develop practical applications that improve daily life. The company is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada with offices in USA and Europe. To learn more, view the website at www.aerial.ai

For Press information Contact:
[email protected]

 

About Mercku

Founded in 2017 in Waterloo, Canada, Mercku is revolutionizing the foundation for wireless sensing and smart homes. Built on decades of design and engineering expertise, Mercku’s founders have over 450 patents in networking technology and bring proprietary innovation to the world of connectivity. With their latest Connectivity-as-a-Service suite of hardware, software, and premium features,  Mercku’s relentless innovation and thought leadership will transform the IoT and wireless sensing space. To learn more, visit their website at www.mercku.com

For Press information contact:

[email protected]

 

Wireless technology has been around for more than a century, so why does it feel like wireless devices have only become popular in the last few years? Well… one of the main reasons for that is the need to license frequency bands.

Wireless devices communicate with each other and the environment using electromagnetic waves. Whenever two different devices use the same frequency, much like with Wi-Fi, the information each device captures might interfere with the other. In the past, it was common to “rent” or license a frequency to ensure that you are the only one using it and avoid interference. A perfect example is radio stations. Radio studios license a specific frequency to operate within a particular region. If you turn on the radio to your favourite station while being in a different region, it will most likely not be playing that station.

Licensing frequency bands, although sometimes necessary, can become a significant step back for innovation. It drastically limits the number of technologies that can operate under a specific frequency since there is no point in creating a product you will not be allowed to use or sell.

Fortunately, countries have been increasing the number of unlicensed band ranges. For example, several countries have now opened the use of the 6 GHz band. The proliferation of unlicensed bands has allowed many new technologies to emerge, including personal wireless health monitoring devices.

Wireless health monitoring devices

Some wireless health monitoring devices use a millimetre-wave sensor that generally operates between 24 GHz and 77 GHz and can detect micromovements. They can work as following:

  1. The sensor sends out a wave,
  2. The wave bounces off a surface,
  3. The wave comes back to the sensor,
  4. The system then calculates the millimetric position of that surface.

If the next wave the sensor sends out comes back differently, the system can calculate all subtle position changes. Using sophisticated AI algorithms, these devices are tailored to capture living beings’ micromovements and convert that data into three crucial features:

  1. Movement
  2. Breathing rate
  3. Heart rate

It is essential to understand that wireless health monitoring devices do not fully replace wearable devices such as smartwatches or fitness trackers. It is the solution that fills the gaps with current monitoring systems. Let’s go over some of their pros and cons.

Benefits

  • No wearables – Users do not have to wear any device to have their health measured. In comparison, wearable devices require users to wear them even during sleep.
  • Zero maintenance – Wireless health monitoring devices do not need to be recharged, unlike wearable devices that require the user to charge it weekly or even daily. Once the device is set up, the user can leave it running non-stop.
  • Non-intrusive – People do not like being spied on, and rightfully so. These devices do not have any cameras, allowing the user to feel at ease at all times.
  • One sensor, multiple people – Each person can be uniquely identified based on their micro-movements. The wireless device can identify the people within its range and measure their biodata accordingly.

Limitations

  • Static – The sensor is not mobile. Users cannot carry it around like wearable devices.
  • Range Although its range can be seen as a benefit since it has a much more extensive range than wearable devices, current iterations of wireless health monitoring devices have a range of 3 meters, which can sometimes not cover an entire room.
  • Setup – The device may require a longer calibration time before use. The setup is not a significant limitation, but it is essential to go over its aspects.

Potential Use Cases

Sleep Monitoring

Wireless tech is the best solution for sleep monitoring. It can sense the necessary information to measure sleep quality (movement, breathing, heart rate), and it does not provide any discomfort to the user since it is contactless.

Telehealth

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 40% of American citizens avoid visiting a medical care center for non-COVID-related concerns [1]. This has led to a drastic increase in telehealth appointments. In Canada, 60% of medical visits became virtual in 2020 [2].

Wireless health monitoring devices add another component to online appointments by providing doctors with their patient’s biodata (with the proper. A great use case is a doctor checking their patients’ breathing data throughout the night and quickly spotting any irregularity, such as sleep apnea, affecting 26% of adults in the US [3].

We hope you all enjoyed this article, thanks for reading! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases! Want to learn more about RF Sensing? Visit our RF Sensing blog post here.

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware, and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected]

Sources:

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a4.htm

[2] http://www.healthcareimc.com/main/virtual-care-is-the-future-of-health-care-delivery-in-canada/

[3] https://aasm.org/rising-prevalence-of-sleep-apnea-in-u-s-threatens-public-health/

What is band steering, and is it worth the hype?

Nowadays, smart home tech is reigning in every household. Can you imagine a place without a single smart-device today? The increasing number of connected IoT and smart devices undoubtedly raises a problem: with all devices connected to a single 2.4 GHz band, how can we ensure a smooth online experience while streaming, gaming, and video-calling all under the same roof?

The wireless industry’s answer was the introduction the new, 5 GHz band in dual-band routers. Dual-band routers benefit client devices by allowing them to connect to either the 2.4 GHz band with a wider range, or the 5 GHz band for faster throughput and higher performance, alleviating congestion on a single band.

In the early days, the practice was to manually connect devices to either the 2.4 or 5 GHz band based on the requirements of the device, which can be very frustrating to optimize and do on a regular basis. Qualcomm noticed this problem and introduced a solution that would automate this process for the user – Band Steering.

Band steering technology encourages dual-band client devices, such as most modern smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, to generally use the less-congested band.

 

 

Why not connect to the 5 GHz band in the first place?

Some of you may wonder why can’t those client devices just connect to the 5 GHz band from the start? To answer this, let’s examine how the “normal wireless operation” works and how the “band steering operation” works.

 

Steering mechanism

Source: https://documentation.meraki.com/MR/Radio_Settings/Band_Steering_Overview

 

As the illustration demonstrates, both the client devices and the routers are exchanging probes. In a normal wireless operation without band steering, the client device sees wireless probes from both bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) and chooses to connect to the strongest one. However, which band is identified as stronger one by the client device depends on another piece of the puzzle.

The 2.4 GHz frequency was adopted for mass wireless use much earlier than the 5 GHz band. To put it simply, the 2.4GHz band is geared more towards wireless signal coverage due to its longer wavelength, while the 5GHz band benefits from faster speeds with its much shorter wavelength. As a result, the 2.4 GHz band can cover larger distances, and most client devices connect to it regardless of how fast or congested it is. What’s more is that once this connection is made, the client device will stay on the same band even if it’s within range of the 5 GHz band and requires a faster network.

So, where does this band steering mechanism come into play? Band steering allows the access point to disable the 2.4 GHz band from probing the client device, so it responds only to the 5 GHz band, reducing the congestion on the 2.4 GHz band while taking advantage of the faster 5GHz band to improve user’s network experience. This way, band steering ensures that end-user devices get faster speeds and less network interference whenever it is possible.

Is Enabling Band Steering worth it?

So far, it sounds like having band steering has no downsides – but then how come we’re asking whether it’s worth enabling? Let us explain.

As the steering mechanism demonstrates, both the access points and client devices can send probes. However, band steering is operated by the access point, and it cannot control how the client device interprets or sends the probes, leaving many client devices unable to be steered to the 5 GHz band.

Moreover, client devices previously associated with the 2.4 GHz band might not be steered even with band steering enabling – they first have to be un-associated from the 2.4GHz band manually. As a result, only idle or new client devices may be band-steered.

Lastly, band-steering technology does not consider the unique traffic conditions. For instance, band steering will not consider the users’ habits of gaming, video streaming, or merely browsing web pages. Therefore, they cannot provide solutions tailored to the need for speed on the client devices.

Ultimately, band steering is a convenient way to prioritize which band the client devices use, and at the end of the day, the control to toggle it On or Off is yours.

Curious about the new and upcoming 6 GHz band? Learn more here

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected]

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases!

On the off chance that you live in a jam-packed spot, you may have seen times when your Wi-Fi unexpectedly drops off out of the blue. The Wi-Fi routers and neighbours’ devices could be using the same radio channels that meddle with your internet connection. It’s ideal to discover and utilize a Wi-Fi channel that offers less interference and a smoother connection to improve the Wi-Fi speeds and connectivity.

Choosing the optimal Wi-Fi channel can improve your Wi-Fi coverage and signal strength, giving you an overall boost in performance.

Most Wi-Fi routers nowadays are utilizing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands, while some of the latest routers now equipped with  using the 6 GHz band. Each band is split into channels used by your devices to send and receive information over the network.

Much like cars on a road, information sent across the network via data channels slow down in areas with higher traffic and congestions. The time it takes for a device to send and receive information from the router is increased on the congested channel, and you might be left waiting for your turn to access the web.

Depending on the router you use, you may have some channels that don’t overlap:

  • 4 GHz: 3 non-overlapping channels available
  • 5 GHz: 24 non-overlapping channels available
  • 6 GHz: 14 non-overlapping 80 MHz channels or 7 non-overlapping 160 MHz channels

WI-FI INTERFERENCE:

The reason why some channels aren’t ideal for you to use might be caused by channel interference.
There are a couple of different types of channel interference:

 

Co-Channel interference occurs when many wireless devices are accessing the same channel, causing congestion on that channel.

Non-Wi-Fi interference occurs when other devices that work on non-Wi-Fi 802.11 radio frequencies compete for the same frequency band.

Adjacent-channel interference occurs when information sent is on an adjacent or partly overlapping channel. The channel bleeds over on an overlapping channel, which adds interference.

Luckily for the users, there are ways to mitigate network interference with several types of channel switching.

TYPES OF CHANNEL SWITCHING:

Channel switching and channel width selection enable users to optimize their Wi-Fi performance in 3 ways:

 

Manual Channel Switching:

With manual channel switching, the access point uses the default channel set by the manufacturer. The user is then able to manually change the selected channel based on:

  1. Signal strength
  2. Wireless networks in the neighbourhood and inside their home
  3. Level on interference caused by non-Wi-Fi devices over the radio channels

Today, consumers can find various third-party “wireless network analyzer” apps and software online, giving them an overview of  network performance, signal strength, and channel congestion. The user then is able to determine the optimal channel based on this analysis for maximum speed and stability.

Auto-channel Switching:

Many routers feature auto-channel switching (ACS) feature by default,  and with this enabled, the router will  automatically select the least congested channel for you each time the system boots up. Since auto-channel switching relies on scanning the air once (when it powers on) the change in the wireless environment in the future could cause channel interference, and prompt sluggish Wi-Fi performance.

Dynamic Channel Switching (DCS):

Dynamic channel switching helps the user avoid highly congested channels and lets routers and access points (AP) automatically switch to the least crowded channel without any manual input from the user.

With DCS, the router continuously scans the air for the best available channel and switches to it automatically.

There are several available methods for dynamic channel switching:

  1. Scheduled DCS
    Scheduled DCS mode allows the user to set a desirable time of the day (e.g. every day at 01:00 AM) to scan the environment and perform automatic channel switching to avoid potential network interruptions.
  1. Start-up Mode
    Like regular Automatic Channel Switching, DCS’ Start-up mode works when an AP starts up for the first time and chooses a channel from the available non-congested, non-overlapping channels.
  1. Steady State Mode
    All modern DCS-enabled access points have Steady State Mode set by default. With Steady State Mode, the AP scans different channels at a set time interval (e.g every 15 minutes of every day) and chooses the channel with the least interference. The user is typically able to select the desired time interval for performing the network scan and channel switching themselves.

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at [email protected]

Thank you for reading our blog! Mercku Blogs covers the latest in wireless technology – subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss our newest releases!

What is EasyMesh and how it improves your Wi-Fi

 

What is Wi-Fi EasyMesh?

The growing popularity of Wi-Fi mesh networks lies with their core benefit – fast, reliable Wi-Fi in every corner of the house. However, as connectivity and wireless technology continue to evolve, the number of available options from different vendors hit the market at an ever-increasing rate.

 

 

Wi-Fi companies such as Eero, Netgear, Google or Mercku often implement a proprietary mesh networking protocol that only allows their mesh systems to mesh with each other. The networking principles and features between the different mesh systems from these providers are mostly the same but, all of them operate independently. For example, it’s not possible to mesh one Mercku M2 Queen router with two Eero nodes to create one network. With so many options, there was a lack of a reliable industry standard for mesh networks that operators and consumers could reference when selecting their next best Wi-Fi mesh solution.

Historically, the Wi-Fi Alliance leads new initiatives around Wi-Fi standards, and in 2018, they introduced EasyMesh certification to make a mesh industry standard a reality. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh is a Wi-Fi Alliance® certification program that brings a standards-based approach to multiple AP home Wi-Fi networks. EasyMesh establishes controller routers to manage and coordinate activity among the mesh nodes and ensures that each AP does not interfere with the other, bringing both expanded, uniform coverage and more efficient service.

Source: Wi-Fi Alliance

One key benefit of this standard is allowing consumers to combine EasyMesh certified Wi-Fi access points from multiple vendors to create unified mesh networks – regardless of the product line or brand. This feature gives consumers and operators more freedom in deploying their Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 Mesh systems in the future.

What are the benefits of the Wi-Fi EasyMesh standard?

Wi-Fi routers that are Wi-Fi EasyMesh certified will provide a list of useful features to improve the overall user experience. Some of the most important are:

  • Effortless set up: Wi-Fi routers that support EasyMesh will be able to quickly discover each other and set up the network with as little user intervention as possible
  • Flexible deployment: This allows the user to get the best placement of multiple access points in their unique environment, providing extended coverage with high throughput
  • Client steering: AP coordination to steer a client to a specific AP for optimal user experience and effective load balancing
  • Intelligent Networking: Mesh points can self-organize and self-optimize by collecting data on network performance and health, and respond to changing conditions to maximize the performance

As with every new technological standard, there are some limitations to consider as well. For instance, a standardized protocol could mean the loss of unique network features from individual equipment manufacturers. Moreover, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of bottlenecking or other performance issues on the network with a variety of different APs.

As Wi-Fi Alliance is continuing to develop the standard, EasyMesh R2 brings about even more enhancements to Mesh networking, with standardized Wi-Fi diagnostics, improved channel management, traffic separation mode and enhanced client steering, which we will cover in the future blogs (subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you don’t miss it!).

Last year, we released the Mercku M6 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh system, which supports EasyMesh R2 standard out of the box. We can’t wait for our users to start deploying the M6 in their custom Mesh networks – alongside other best EasyMesh certified routers in 2021!