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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!

Mercku CES M6 Announcement

Mercku’s M6 Wi-Fi 6 system was named the Consumer Technology Association’s Networking Product of the Year in the Mark of Excellence 2021 Awards – an award series that annually recognizes the tech industry’s top smart home innovations.  

Every year, The Mark of Excellence Awards, presented by the Smart Home Division of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, recognizes the best in custom integration and installed technology. The most innovative technology companies compete in more than 20 award categories and are judged by independent experts from established industry leaders. In a year where consumers are spending more time at home than ever before, we are honored to have received the 2021 Mark of Excellence Award for M6 AX Mesh in the Networking Product of the Year category. 

Mercku Wi-Fi6 Mark of Excellence Smart Home Award

 

Mercku M6

This recognition embodies Mercku’s commitment to building the next era of connectivity. By awarding Mercku with the Mark of Excellence Award, CTA spotlights the impact we have on our users’ daily lives and shows the importance of innovative Wi-Fi products as the foundation of all connected smart home technology. We share this award with all our partners, distributors and users around the world, as we are thrilled to lead the way into an innovative, user-centered, connected future.  

Read the full story on CTA.tech

Why you should be excited about 6 GHz Wi-Fi

Why you should be excited about 6 GHz Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi 6E

Have you ever wondered how your laptop, cellphone, or other mobile devices connect to the internet? “Through Wi-Fi”- that’s the most obvious answer. It is, but then how does Wi-Fi communicate with our devices? Well, the quick response is via radio frequencies, and we’ll jump into more detail in just a bit, along with insights on the much anticipated 6 GHz spectrum and what it means for your Wi-Fi experience.

Restricted to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands in recent years, we have reached the point where there are now more Wi-Fi networks in a building than radio stations available to listen to in a city. In April of 2020, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced its approval to allocate an uncharted fresh spectrum, the 6 GHz band, to reduce pressure from current frequency bands while delivering high speeds.

Well, what makes the 6 GHz band different?

 

Comparing Wi-Fi standards

6 GHz has higher throughput

The number of devices connected to Wi-Fi in homes and public areas has significantly increased over the last decade, especially in this era of home automation and IoT. Current frequency bands are not sufficient to cater to growing bandwidth requirements. With the new 6 GHz band, more throughput is available for reasons including an increased number of non-overlapping channels and greater bandwidth.

6 GHz has more non-overlapping channels

There is a limit to the number of channels each band has, which are limited further by the number of non-overlapping channels. These non-overlapping channels are essential in reducing signal interference between devices, ultimately resulting in slower wireless speeds.

The 2.4 GHz band has 11 channels with only three non-overlapping channels (1, 6, 11); therefore, in crowded areas where many devices are connected, signal interference will result in slower internet speeds.

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz non-overlapping Wi-Fi channels

The 5 GHz band overcomes the weaknesses of 2.4 GHz and is ten times wider than the 2.4 GHz band with 24 non-overlapping channels, making it even better. However, some channels of 5 GHz have been in use for the government and the military, so in reality, there are only eight non-overlapping channels available to the public.

The introduction of 6 GHz includes 14 non-overlapping 80 MHz channels, all for public use, reducing the opportunity for co-channel signal interference and ultimately give you better wireless speeds.

6 GHz comes packed with extra bandwidth

The new 6 GHz band will be adding 1,200 MHz of extra bandwidth, meaning users can utilize the 40 MHz and 80 MHz channels plus the newly available 160 MHz channel widths. It is recommended to use smaller channel widths despite reduced throughput to reduce co-channel interference; however, the 6 MHz band overcomes this with extra space on the wireless spectrum. To put this into perspective, 5 GHz band can only support two non-overlapping 80 MHz channels or a single 160 MHz channel, while the 6 GHz band can support fifteen 80 MHz channels and seven 160 MHz channels. This means much less channel overlap and much more bandwidth!

6 GHz and Uniqueness of Mesh Wi-Fi

Similar to how the 5 GHz band has a shorter ranger than 2.4 GHz, higher throughput, a more significant number of channels, and higher bandwidth come at the cost of more considerable signal attenuation in the new 6 GHz band; this is where Mesh Wi-Fi comes in. In a mesh Wi-Fi system, the central router and multiple mesh points may be installed throughout a large space to increase wireless 6 GHz coverage. However, unlike the signal extenders, the units form one seamless and unified blanket network that broadens reach and connectivity strength. When roaming, your device maintains a connection to a single SSID without hiccups in connection, giving you the full potential of 6 GHz Wi-Fi around any space.

Using 6 GHz Wi-Fi at home

6 GHz Wi-Fi delivers 1.2 Gbps at even 7 meters away from an access point with obstructions.

Use Cases:

  • Residential Multi-AP/mesh networks
  • Multiple dwelling units (MDU) Single-AP networks
  • High-density enterprise networks
  • Indoor public venues
  • Industrial IoT

Wi-Fi 6E – The Game changer

The development of 6 GHz and Wi-Fi 6 alone are grand achievements in this new age of Wi-Fi, and combining the two to become Wi-Fi 6E is game-changing for the tech world and the economy. Wi-Fi Alliance* statistics show that the value of Global Wi-Fi will increase by up to $3.47 trillion by 2023, and unlocking 6 GHz Wi-Fi will lead to even more significant economic contributions and a better-connected world.

What to look forward to

Wi-Fi 6E delivers a considerable increase in network efficiency and capacity for dense population centers. Wi-Fi 6E will immediately impact network performance in crowded places such as stadiums or apartment buildings. With the global increase in fibre internet coverage, the necessity of Wi-Fi 6E will increase to leverage the full capacity of gigabit broadband connections.

Much like how there is not much 8K video content available, it’s not as beneficial yet to purchase an 8K television when you can’t use it to its full potential. Similarly, the biggest issue with purchasing Wi-Fi 6E routers is that there are only a few devices on the market capable of using its Wi-Fi 6 features or utilize the 6 GHz band. The few devices available on the market now are using a prototype version of the new standard. In 2021, markets will see an influx of 6E chips for commercial use. With that being said, devices compatible with Wi-Fi 6E will be hitting the mainstream markets within the next few years.

With a completely new spectrum unlocked, we are sure to see many innovative products being released in the future.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

As more smart home products enter the market each year and consumers continue adopting the Internet of Things into their homes, it’s inevitable that the world would have run out of 4.3 billion unique IPv4 addresses. To combat this, innovators have developed the IPv6 protocol introducing over 340 undecillion (that’s 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) addresses!

What makes IPv4 and IPv6  so different? Let’s begin with understanding what IP (or Internet Protocol) is.

Internet Protocol

“Protocol” refers to using a set of rules and guidelines for communicating over the internet. It is the language of the internet that forces users to follow the standard rules for communication. An IP address is like your home address, which you use for communicating with the outside world. It is a string of unique numbers that identify your device over the internet, allowing your device to communicate with others using their unique IP addresses.

IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are both binary numbers that are expressed either in decimal or hexadecimal forms, respectively, and have two parts: the network the host parts. The network portion in the address is the unique identification assigned to the network, and the host part is the unique identification of each device connected to the network. So, for each device’s address connected to the network, the network portion in the address will be the same, however, the host part will differ.

IPv4

IPv4 uses 32-bit addressing, which is 232 addresses, allowing for 4,294,967,296 unique IP addresses worldwide. The IP address consists of four sets separated by dots, with each set ranging between 0 to 255.

At the time IPv4 was engineered in the 1980s, 4 billion IP addresses seemed like more than enough considering this protocol was initially used as an experiment for the US Department of Defense. IPv4 has since become the default protocol for the internet and with a world population of greater than 7.5 billion the IPv4 address space is not sufficient.

Knowing this, how are we still managing to provide unique IP addresses? You guessed it – by reusing IP addresses! Network address translation (NAT) helps reduce the use of public IP addresses by translating private IP addresses to public IP addresses. Inside a local network usually managed by a router, there may be multiple private IP addresses that are translated into public IP addresses when they want to communicate over the internet. Mercku’s M2 Queen router is enabled to perform translations and is capable of supporting 60 devices at once without compromising on communication speeds.

Figure 1: Smart Homes Worldwide

Source: Statista, May 2020, based on Statista Digital Market Outlook – Market Report

Figure 2: Forecast number of mobile devices worldwide from 2019 to 2023

Source: Statista, February 2020, based on Mobile Statistics Report, 2019-2023

By observing Figures 1 and 2, it is evident that the number of devices worldwide has been increasing and is forecasted to further increase for which Ipv4 address space is certainly not enough.

Since IPv4 address space has become insufficient, computer engineers around the world (Internet Engineering Task Force) decided to address this issue by introducing IPv6 with the intent to replace IPv4.

IPv6 uses 128-bit addressing, which overcomes the insufficiency of IP addresses worldwide. The number of unique IP addresses that can be generated with IPv6 is 2128 which is 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 IP addresses. IPv6 address has eight sets that are separated by a colon and have hexadecimal digits.

The Future of IP Addressing

IPv4 and IPv6 are not compatible and can’t directly communicate with each other, although there are transition mechanisms like NAT64 that allow for communication.

Many routers and servers that are currently in use are not IPv6 compatible quite yet and can only communicate with IPv4 addresses. However, as the world transitions more towards IPv6, internet service providers will need to replace their customer’s existing routers with newer ones that are IPv6-compatible.

There is no confirmed date when a complete transition will happen and it may take place over years, with an increasing number of applications and content accessible by IPv6. It is better to transition beforehand to IPv6 to avoid inconveniences in the future, and consumers with Mercku’s WiFi router won’t require any replacement.

Some of the additional features that IPv6 has includes:

  • Stateless Auto-Configuration: Stateless Configuration allows devices on IPv6 network to configure and connect themselves to the internet without the need of a DHCP server
  • Simultaneously connections to multiple networks: The configuration and interoperability capabilities of IPv6 allow the assignment of multiple IP addresses to one device.
  • Internet Protocol Security: IPSec provides a network security layer. It is a mandatory feature in IPv6 while IPv4 also has this feature but is not compulsory in it; Network providers and end-users may not always use this feature.

To check if your device is IPv6-ready, you can visit http://test-ipv6.com/ for free online testing.