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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.

By:Abu Islam

November 17, 2020 · 4 min read

Benefits-of-Wi-Fi-6-for-Healthcare
An increasing number of medical devices enabled with Wi-Fi technology are entering the healthcare industry, ranging from simple applications to mission critical real-time applications. Blog outlines the market drivers for healthcare Wi-Fi networks.

Learn about market drivers for Healthcare Wi-Fi networks

A recently published Spirent eBook on the impact of COVID-19 on the Wi-Fi ecosystem discussed the effect of underlying factors such as the economy, business, government and consumer-behavior on Wi-Fi deployments and testing. While certain Wi-Fi market segments such as large public venues (LPV) and hospitality are still struggling to recover, the healthcare industry is facing altogether different challenges.

According to a recent report from Frost and Sullivan (April 2020), “Telehealth market in the US is estimated to display a staggering seven-fold growth by 2025, resulting in a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.2%. In 2020, the telehealth market is likely to experience a tsunami of growth, resulting in a year-over-year increase of 64.3%.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Telehealth as the “delivery of health care services, where patients and providers are separated by distance. Telehealth uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals.”

“Wi-Fi 6 helps solve the different challenges the healthcare industry is facing.”

Wi-Fi has been the preferred wireless technology of choice for decades in hospitals and clinics, globally. This is primarily because Wi-Fi offers technical advantages in indoor environments, and often, it’s the most cost-effective option for healthcare providers. As a result, an increasing number of medical devices enabled with Wi-Fi technology are entering the healthcare industry each year, ranging from simple applications to mission critical real-time applications (e.g. ubiquitous access to patient medical records).

With stringent regulatory requirements such as FDA 510k certification for product introduction in the U.S., patient safety and privacy concerns (e.g. HIPAA in the U.S., GDPR in Europe), and the need to provide patient care around the clock (24/7/365), it is understandable that new technology adoption takes longer for the healthcare industry. However, the various new features and promises offered by Wi-Fi 6, are providing a great motivation for healthcare providers to think seriously about upgrading their devices and networks.

Benefits of Wi-Fi 6 for Healthcare Providers

Wi-Fi 6 offers several benefits over legacy standards such as Wi-Fi 5/4. Key features include Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) for Downlink and Uplink (DL/UL), Multi-user Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) for DL/UL, Target Wake Time (TWT) among others.

Coupled with the latest security standard by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) for Enterprise, Wi-Fi 6 enables healthcare providers to benefit from a reliable, efficient, and secured Wi-Fi connection for patient care and clinical workflows.

Advanced-Wi-Fi-6-Feature-Testing-Spirent

Key Wi-Fi 6 features

  • OFDMA: enables higher aggregated throughput and lower latency in dense environments like in hospitals (over previous generations of products). However, the key benefit of OFDMA is the scheduling-based resource allocation capability in the frequency domain, which enables organizations to prioritize their Wi-Fi traffic. For instance, life-saving traffic data such as patient monitoring and paging can now be prioritized over less sensitive traffic such as Internet-of-Medical Things (IoMT).
  • MU-MIMO: Particularly suitable for higher bandwidth applications and larger data packets, MU-MIMO (capable of up to 8×8) enables access points (APs) to transmit more data at a given time and serves a larger number of concurrent clients. Healthcare applications, ranging from full-body MRI images accessible by handheld devices to HD video for physician and patient consultation, require a higher bandwidth, that is supported by this feature.
  • Target Wake Time (TWT): Large number of IoMT devices run on battery power. With TWT, APs and IoMT devices can “wake up” at negotiated times. In multiple WLANs deployment scenarios in congested environment like hospitals and clinics, this allows for reduced power consumption and longer battery life for IoMT devices, as well as less congestion for the Wi-Fi network.
  • WPA3: Healthcare industry is tasked with protecting critical medical information and patient records by regulatory requirements, especially when such information is transmitted over the air. The latest WPA3 standard offers enhanced security protection and is available in two forms:
    • WPA3-Enterprise: Unlike WPA2, WPA3-Enterprise provides a 192-bit security suite, making for a more robust security system for enterprise environments, making critical networks harder for hackers to penetrate.
    • WPA3-Personal: WPA3-Personal uses Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) (RFC 7664) to replace Pre-shared Key (PSK) in WPA2-Personal, to offer forward secrecy, that helps protect data traffic by making it resistant to offline dictionary attacks.

In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible, enabling legacy clients to co-exist with the latest Wi-Fi 6 devices. This is particularly important in healthcare facilities, where thousands of devices from various Wi-Fi generations are served by the same network at any given time.

In the sequel to this blog, we will take a closer look at Wi-Fi device and network testing considerations for healthcare providers.

MIMO system enables 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz with UWB, BLE and IoT options

Eindhoven, The Netherlands – November 12th, 2020

The Antenna Company, a specialist in the design of high-performance embedded antennas, today announced a new Wi-Fi 6E MIMO antenna system designed to increase network capacity, extend range and reduce latency in enterprise and industrial IoT networks. The antenna system enables simultaneous operation in the 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz frequency bands, resulting in an additional 1.2 GHz of spectrum and greater than 2x increase in available channels.

“The adoption of high performance WiFi 6E antenna systems is a key enabling technology to fully realize the benefits of the unlicensed spectrum between 5.925 and 7.125 GHz”, said Mark Hung, VP Technology and Engineering at the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Optimized for seamless integration into access points, The Antenna Company’s design supports a total of 15 antennas, including dedicated 4×4 5 GHz + 4×4 6 GHz + 4×4 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi antennas. Cross-pair Wi-Fi antenna isolation of greater than 45 dB is achieved for concurrent operation in the 5 GHz band.

An additional 0.9/2.4 GHz IoT antenna is included to enable IoT use cases, along with tri-band 2.4/5/6 GHz antennas for radio spectrum management. The entire antenna system is mounted on a metal backplate to enable mechanical, thermal and RF integration with the access point.

The design also comes with an Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) option to enable Real-Time Location System (RTLS) services such as access control, indoor navigation, asset tracking and contact tracing. The UWB antennas support channels 5 and 9 for worldwide spectrum coverage. To avoid coupling and detuning between antennas, greater than 30 dB of isolation is achieved between the UWB and Wi-Fi antennas.

The Antenna Company’s Wi-Fi 6E + UWB antenna system also features:

  • Compact design that enables size reduction of enterprise access-points by 20% or more, without sacrificing antenna system performance;
  • Low input impedance essential to achieve peak data rates for 80/160 MHz channels;
  • Uniform radio coverage to avoid nulls and blind spots.

“Wi-Fi 6E enables the capacity, speed and latency needed to support the shift in network usage for Enterprise and Industrial IoT markets. The addition of UWB gives our customers a scalable platform to offer new RTLS services”, said company CEO David Favreau.

To request more information and to discuss your specific system requirements, please contact The Antenna Company at [email protected]

About The Antenna Company

The Antenna Company is an antenna systems provider that delivers high-performance solutions based on proprietary design principles, advanced materials and RF system expertise. Our patented technology results in clearly differentiated performance over conventional antenna solutions in the market. The company’s mission is to enable its Enterprise, Consumer and IoT customers to offer the best end-user experience, by providing innovative and novel antenna system solutions.  The Antenna Company provides standard and customized solutions to OEM and ODM customers worldwide for Wi-Fi, GNSS, LTE, UWB, CBRS and 5G technologies. Antenna Company is headquartered in the Netherlands with sales offices in the US and Asia.

For more information, please visit https://www.antennacompany.com 

By Eve Danel

November 11, 2020

LitePoint’s Eve Danel has developed this three-part blog series on Wi-Fi 6E and testing challenges. Throughout this series of blog posts, you’ll learn the basics of operating rules for Wi-Fi 6E in the 6 GHz band, the challenges when validating Wi-Fi 6E designs and what testing solutions LitePoint has available for Wi-Fi 6E.

Wi-Fi 6E Standard and Channels – 802.11ax Operation in the 6 GHz Band

In my previous blog post, I explored the FCC’s decision to open the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E standard operation, as well as the rules the FCC put in place to protect incumbent users in that space. Today I want to explore the IEEE 802.11ax rules of operation in the 6 GHz band and how they differ from operation in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Background on Wi-Fi Standards

Two main groups are responsible for shaping Wi-Fi’s evolution. The IEEE 802.11defines the technical specifications of the wireless LAN standard. The IEEE 802.11ax standard for high efficiency (or HE) covers MAC and PHY layer operation in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands. It is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2020.

The Wi-Fi Alliance focuses on certification of Wi-Fi devices for compliance and interoperability, as well as the marketing of Wi-Fi technology. To improve consumer understanding of the various IEEE 802.11 standard generations, the Wi-Fi Alliance decided to create consumer friendly names. The IEEE 802.11ax standard is now referred to as Wi-Fi 6 or the 6th generation of Wi-Fi and operates the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.  Wi-Fi 6E operates in the 6 GHz frequency band. Thousands of devices have received Wi-Fi 6 certification since the program started and the Wi-Fi 6E certification is planned to start sometime in early 2021.

IEEE Rules of Operation

Decisions made by the IEEE 802.11ax group and added to the standard will make Wi-Fi 6E even more efficient.

Arguably one of the most important decisions made by the IEEE 802.11ax group is that it disallows older generation Wi-Fi devices in the 6 GHz band, which is important because it means that only high efficiency 802.11ax devices will be able to operate in this band.

Historically, newer Wi-Fi standards have always provided backward compatibility with older generations. This proved to be a great strength to win over consumers, since network equipment doesn’t need to be completely overhauled at each new generation. This has also been a source of congestion, since older slower legacy equipment is sharing available resources (i.e. spectrum) with newer devices.  In the 6 GHz however, only new high efficiency devices will be allowed to operate.

When using the analogy of a freeway to describe Wi-Fi, the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band can be compared to congested freeways allowing both fast and slow vehicles, while the 6 GHz band is the equivalent of a new, large freeway that only allows the fastest cars.

With 1200 MHz of spectrum and 59 new 20 MHz channels, a station with a dwell time of 100 ms per channel would require almost 6 seconds to complete a passive scan of the entire band.  The standard implements a new efficient process for clients to discover nearby access points (APs). In Wi-Fi 6E, a process called fast passive scanning is being used to focus on a reduced set of channels called preferred scanning channels (PSC). PSCs are a set of 15 20-MHz channels that are spaced every 80 MHz. The APs will set their primary channel to coincide with the PSC so that it can be easily discovered by a client, and clients will use passive scanning in order to just scan PSCs to look for an AP.

 

To further improve the efficiency of the 6 GHz operation, the standard is also segregating most of the management traffic to other bands. So, a multi-band AP that has 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz will be discoverable by scanning the lower bands. The client will first go into the lower bands, discover the AP there and then move to the 6 GHz band. This way, no probe request frames will need to be sent in the 6 GHz band. This will reduce the probe requests that are sent by stations just trying to find APs because it will not be allowed unless it is a PSC channel.

Wi-Fi 6E Channelization

The 802.11ax standard also defines channel allocations for the 6 GHz band. This allocation determines the center frequencies for 20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz and 160 MHz channels.

Channels begin at the start frequency of 5950 MHz, leaving just 25 MHz of guard band between the first 6 GHz channels and the upper range of the U-NII 4 band.

If a U-NII band is not allowed in a specific regulatory domain or operates under different rules, then the regulatory specs take precedence over IEEE and channels that are falling on frequencies or overlapping on frequencies that are not supported, are not allowed.

The FCC is providing this pristine new highway of spectrum and the Wi-Fi 6E standard’s rules of operation are ensuring that we can remove the slowest vehicles on the highway. The question now is how do you build the next generation, high performance device that can really take advantage of this new spectrum? There are many challenges to overcome.

In the next post, we’ll explore what testing solutions LitePoint has available for Wi-Fi 6E. In the meantime, please visit the replay of my webinar on this topic.

One of the world’s largest municipality Wi-Fi deployments

STOCKHOLM – October 19,  2020 – The Istanbul city Wi-Fi service, enabled by a solution from Aptilo Networks, has won the Telecoms World Smart Cities Award. The network has around 8,000 access points. Every year, 16 million citizens and 10 million visitors get access to a high-capacity Wi-Fi service.

The administration of Istanbul needed a Wi-Fi service that could scale and provide various stakeholders with advanced functionality. The Aptilo Service Management Platform™ with its Venue Wi-Fi Manager™ multitenancy functionality fulfilled all the requirements.

“With a Wi-Fi network that looks and behaves like a large operator network, we needed a carrier-class solution,” said Erol Özgüner, CIO Istanbul City. “With Aptilo’s advanced functionality for cellular- and Wi-Fi-based IoT connectivity, we already have today the foundation to enter the Internet-of-everything era.”

Users of the Istanbul Wi-Fi service get high bandwidth and short response times wherever they are. There are up to five different quota buckets that control the data consumption and that can be used at different types of locations. The solution from Aptilo keeps track of where the users access the Wi-Fi service and applies the right bucket depending on the location.

The multitenancy functionality in Aptilo’s platform makes it possible for Istanbul city to tailor the look and feel for the different venues. Through banner areas at the login portal, users can get the latest information for that location and view advertisements.

Furthermore, quality-of-service control and quota profiles can be adjusted by location and user group, and for special dates such as national holidays.

“This advanced large-scale Wi-Fi service and the grand vision for the future make Istanbul city a worthy winner of the award,” said Paul Mikkelsen, CEO, Aptilo Networks. “We are very proud to have been part of the project and to have contributed to its success.”

About Aptilo Networks

Aptilo Networks, an Enea company, is a leading provider of carrier-class systems to manage data services with advanced functions for authentication, policy control and charging. Aptilo Service Management Platform™ (SMP) has become synonymous with Wi-Fi service management and Wi-Fi offload in large-scale deployments with 100+ operators in more than 75 countries, and is a critical component of Wi-Fi calling and IoT. For more information, visit www.aptilo.com.

 

By July 13, 2020 Case Studies

As the dawn of the smart city rapidly approaches, the need for reliable and cost-effective connectivity solutions within urban settings has steadily grown. Add to this scenario a marked increase in internet usage that now sees more people and devices using greater amounts of data than ever before, and a unique problem presents itself: how can a smart city provide its residents with widespread Wi-Fi coverage while keeping labor and infrastructure costs under control?
In December of 2019, INTECH GM Nando Ateho found himself considering this very question. He’d been tasked with deploying a wireless network for a five-day outdoor event held on-site at an up-and-coming smart city development in Utah known as Desert Color. The wireless solution required for this event needed to offer three things: seamless connectivity across a large geographic area, ease-of-configuration for a limited labor force, and overall cost-effectiveness.

The solution he found was Apogee by Aura Wireless.

Background

With construction on its first phase of homes having commenced at the beginning of 2019, Desert Color is well into its first year of development. Touting itself as a “master-planned community built around connectivity, community, and sustainability,” Desert Color is already proving to be one of Utah’s premier smart communities.

With an expected development timeline of 20-or-so years, sights are set high for this small city. Among its future plans are resorts, residential areas, shopping centers, recreational zones, parks, and other community centers like office buildings, schools, and churches. Its growth goals are largely geared toward attracting forward-thinking, well-to-do professionals who value an active lifestyle, connecting with the outdoors, and living a futuristic quality-of-life supported by all the amenities IoT-based living can offer.

But in order to make this vision a reality, developers had to first begin attracting prospects and selling homes. Slated for early 2020, the community’s first-ever Parade of Homes event was prepared to do just that.

The Problem

In order to showcase the Desert Color community to prospective home buyers, community planners knew it had to live up to some high expectations. The Parade of Homes event was planned with two simultaneous goals in mind: highlighting its allure as a city rich in beauty, style, and community; and showcasing its technical capabilities as a smart city. As such, Brook Cole of Clyde Development knew he needed to find a wireless network solution that would help Desert Color live up to its budding reputation.

Meant to span five days and cover a geographic area of over 15 acres, the event required a well-planned and strategic wireless infrastructure. Visitors would be moving across the area on foot and in vehicles; they’d need to be able to move outdoors and into tents and even inside buildings with ease. While the natural scenery and unique architecture of the city’s homes are a major selling point, the word “connectivity” is plainly stated within the community’s mission statement. Weak coverage and poor performance were simply not an option.

However, deploying a robust, large-scale Wi-Fi network is difficult and expensive. Covering a 15-acre swath of land typically requires dozens of access points, exponentially increasing hardware costs. Additionally, these large networks require a great deal of hands-on configuration by a team of technicians, which drastically increases labor costs. The usual conclusion is that networks such as these are just not worth it.

But what if there were a solution that could change all that?

The Solution

Once his network solutions options were assessed, Ateho eventually turned to Apogee’s software-defined antennae platform as the cornerstone of his deployment. After taking into consideration Desert Color’s specific needs and requirements, Aura’s team assisted with RF planning by bestowing thoughtful and timely planning and cooperation which would help lay the framework for the upcoming event.

During installation and throughout the Parade of Homes, only two Apogee-equipped access points were required to provide thorough coverage to the 15-acre area. What’s more, Apogee Manager Cloud gave INTECH CTO Leonard Jenkins the ability to not only remotely configure the network, but also be able to remotely manage the network. This meant that instead of dispatching multiple technicians to adjust multiple access points as needed over the course of several days, one technician was able to manage only two Apogee access points from one remote location.

Furthermore, Apogee was able to provide reliable infrastructure support for IoT devices within the area. Because IoT devices are low-powered and, oftentimes, battery-powered, properly connecting them to networks can be challenging. A robust signal – particularly on the return link from the IoT device to the AP – reduces power drain and extends the life of the device, in addition to improving connectivity. Apogee’s asymmetrical gain was ideally suited to overcome these challenges.

From installation and throughout deployment, Jenkins became more and more convinced that Apogee was a wireless solution unlike any other, applauding the system’s ease-of-use, as well as the range and strength of its signal. While providing seamless large-area Wi-Fi coverage across a large span of area can be an insurmountable challenge, Apogee and Apogee Manager Cloud helped provide a reliable network solution for the hundreds of attendees for the Parade of Homes event.

In addition to the remote configuration and optimization that Apogee provides, Jenkins was also impressed with the antenna’s ability to propagate the 5GHz band over very large areas. Typically, the 5GHz band was only utilized for point-to-point; with Apogee, Jenkins documented that 5GHz could be used alongside the 2.4GHz band for point-to-multipoint, thus doubling the number of usable channels and truly delivering two non-interfering networks side-by-side.

But ultimately, it was its long-term cost-effectiveness that brought its benefits full-circle. Ateho’s verdict?  That a better-quality solution with a more efficient signal and easier-to-manage antenna software equals a greater, long-term value.

He plans to deploy Apogee in future projects.

By Taj Manku, CEO | June 14, 2020

Woman monitors her network from her smartphone

Discovering new applications for existing technologies is the definition of innovation. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of because it opens the door to new ways of improving our quality of life, but we recognize it also comes with responsibility.

Here at Cognitive Systems, we’ve developed a solution called WiFi Motion that uses existing WiFi signals in the home to enable motion detection. Also referred to as WiFi Sensing, this technology already has numerous applications for service providers within the security, health care, enterprise and smart home markets. WiFi Motion’s capabilities are sure to expand as we work with partners and others in the space to uncover even more uses, but not without some necessary guardrails in place.

The need for a more complete set of standards

Current possibilities aside, WiFi Sensing technology won’t reach its full potential unless stakeholders work together to implement standards around its development. While there are currently adequate standards in place that cover the core functions of WiFi Motion, a more robust set is required to achieve new and more complex use cases. These standards will help others work with existing applications and also create new ones, while ensuring consistency across various platforms.

In the early stages of working on WiFi Motion, we found ourselves explaining WiFi Sensing to each new chip vendor we worked with. This simply wasn’t efficient or sustainable. Going forward, we need a universally recognized industry definition, and a defined set of API to be used as a guideline for anyone creating chips.

Finding the right partners to move WiFi Sensing forward

As one of the first companies to develop a commercially-viable solution using WiFi Sensing, we became aware of our responsibility to help shape the development of the wider technology. To make this happen, we knew we had to align ourselves with others working in the space. There is a lot of room for development, and even competition, in this space. It’s important that we all work together to realize the full potential of WiFi Sensing technology.

We identified the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) as an ideal partner to help raise awareness about WiFi Sensing, while also ensuring it is being explained accurately and consistently throughout the industry. The WBA’s mission is to enable collaboration among service providers, technology companies and organizations who want to drive seamless, interoperable service experiences via WiFi. This made them a natural fit.

Our next step was to establish a working group within the WBA. The NextGen Work Group is the first of its kind and works toward introducing and fostering the adoption of new WiFi applications. Part of the group’s work so far has included publishing the Wi-Fi Sensing Whitepaper, which outlines use cases and requirements for the technology to be utilized in home and enterprise environments. A goal of the whitepaper is to help other companies identify business opportunities or simply grow their revenue by enhancing their current offerings with WiFi Sensing. It also identifies gaps that need to be addressed to fully realize the potential of the technology in the broader industry.

Looking forward to a bright future

We’re proud to say that we’ve gotten the ball rolling on establishing a robust set of standards that will help WiFi Sensing move forward. Cognitive Systems senior engineer Chris Beg has been an integral player in aligning with the WBA, starting the NextGen Work Group and publishing the whitepaper. Last fall Chris presented to the Wireless Next Generation Standing Committee on the future of WiFi Sensing for service providers. Up next, Chris continues the conversation with key players by presenting at this summer’s Wireless Global Congress virtual event.

Ultimately, we’re looking to engage the software community and start coming together in an open source forum to explore what is possible. By strengthening the WiFi industry as a whole, we can all achieve great things together.

AdaptivMIMO technology provides flexible configurations for fast 6 GHz adoption

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Apr. 21, 2020 – ON Semiconductor (Nasdaq: ON), driving energy efficient innovations, announced sampling of its new QCS-AX2 chipset family that supports the 6GHz spectrum band based on the enhanced Wi-Fi 6E standard. Designed with a high performance, flexible architecture to maximize usage of the 6GHz band, the new product family is optimized for high-throughput Wi-Fi applications, such as access points, gateways, and mesh networking solutions for dense environments and underserved areas.

The QCS-AX2 series is built on an integrated baseband and RF (radio frequency) architecture that supports key Wi-Fi 6E features, such as orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), advanced MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multi-Input, Multi-Output), and 160MHz channel support for faster speeds, and SmartScan channel selection for maximum band utilization. The new product portfolio will include the following:

  • QCS-AX2-A12: tri-band (6GHz/5GHz/2.4GHz) with AdaptivMIMO technology supports flexible 8×8 or 4×4 configurations
  • QCS-AX2-T12: tri-band concurrent 4×4 operation for high performance, cost-effective router solutions
  • QCS-AX2-T8: tri-band concurrent 8-stream configurations for mesh nodes and mainstream access points

 

As the Federal Communications Commission anticipates the opening of the 6GHz band in the United States later this year, up to 1,200 MHz of newly available spectrum will be designated for Wi-Fi and other unlicensed use. With almost 5 times of spectrum more than the current 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands combined, the 6GHz band is accelerating the development of next generation Wi-Fi 6 applications. While the 6GHz client ecosystem takes time to build out, Wi-Fi infrastructure devices, such as gateways, routers, and access points will need to continue to support existing dual band (2.4GHz/5GHz) clients; infrastructure applications such as 6GHz backhaul between gateways and mesh nodes will lead deployments.

ON Semiconductor’s Wi-Fi 6E solutions are designed to accommodate the transition to the 6GHz band with AdaptivMIMO technology while addressing mainstream 6GHz applications. A Wi-Fi 6E infrastructure device with AdaptivMIMO allows the network to operate in the 5GHz or 6GHz band depending on the clients present in a subscriber’s home network to maximize performance, coverage, and utilization. The QCS-AX2 series provides the Wi-Fi performance and connectivity in congested environments to multiple devices that applications demand.

“We are excited about the tremendous opportunities that Wi-Fi 6E opens for the industry. We are in the forefront of building Wi-Fi 6E platforms that enable even better speed, efficiency and performance for the Home, Enterprise, Automotive and IoT segments,” said Irvind Ghai, Vice President of Marketing, Quantenna Connectivity Solutions at ON Semiconductor. “ON Semiconductor is dedicated to innovation in Wi-Fi technology, and will continue to leverage its connectivity excellence to provide end-to-end solutions that accelerate key Wi-Fi 6E ecosystems.”

“Our new generation of QCS-AX2 with AdaptivMIMO allows OEMs fast time-to-market with optimized performance across the 3 bands. As Wi-Fi 6E infrastructure proliferates, it will seed the 6GHz ecosystems. Client devices will also benefit from improved efficiency, lower latency and jitter, and less interference, providing better user experience across applications and environments,” said Simon Duxbury, General Manager & Vice President, Quantenna Connectivity Solutions, ON Semiconductor.

ON Semiconductor is now sampling the QCS-AX2 solutions to customers.

About ON Semiconductor
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Adaptive MIMO in the Era of 6GHz Wi-Fi

In 2018 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the United States issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that opens up a maximum of 1.2GHz of spectrum between 5.925GHz to 7.125GHz for unlicensed use. The newly released spectrum has the potential to offer over twice the spectrum currently allowed in 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The additional channels allow for not only high speeds such as 10Gbps, but also support more users in dense environments such as Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs). It is obvious that 6GHz has the potential to usher in a new era for Wi-Fi computing. The FCC’s publication of the NPRM puts it on course for eventual legalization, by most accounts, towards the end of 2020. Other countries, such as those in the European Union and in Asia, will follow suit with their own adoption of 6GHz, most likely in 2022.

While there is little doubt that the introduction of 6GHz is a great development, the mechanics of its adoption into everyday devices that we all have and love are a bit more complex. We can look at the adoption of Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) technology as a good model of what will most likely happen. The official 802.11ac specification was published by IEEE in December 2013. By the end of 2016, all smartphones fully adopted 802.11ac. In 2016, there were over 1.4 billion new mobile phones shipped with the majority (over 1 billion) being 802.11ac (Figure 1). If we apply this model for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) 6GHz client devices, it will also likely be approximately 3 years from when IEEE publishes the 802.11ax specifications (June 2020) to when there will be over 1 billion new Wi-Fi 6 client devices, which will be middle of 2023. However, with the addition of 6GHz regulatory approval by the end of 2020, this timeline will most likely be slightly extended to the end of 2023, three years after the FCC fully legalizes 6GHz operation by end of 2020 (Figure 2).

Figure 1. Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Adoption by Client Devices

Figure 2. Overall Timeline for Wi-Fi 6 and 6GHz Adoption

With the introduction of 6GHz, it may be deceptively simple to assume that next-generation Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure devices such as home gateways and access points launching in 2020 will all be designed with a fixed architecture, one that dedicates a fixed 4×4 radio to each of the 3 bands: 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz (Figure 3). As previously stated, since there will be a small quantity of 6GHz Wi-Fi 6 clients until the end of 2023, a gateway solution that devotes any dedicated 6GHz circuitry will be mostly unused for a significant portion of the time. That means the cost and space associated with these new 6GHz components will essentially be wasted inside the gateway. However, service providers must produce and deploy forward-looking gateways as their replacement cycles tend to be longer than that of client devices. These two competing dynamics present an interesting challenge for service providers who are considering the inclusion of Wi-Fi 6 with 6GHz support in their roadmaps.

Figure 3. Fixed, Triple Frequency 4×4 Design

A potential solution can be found in a technology called Adaptive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output). Adaptive MIMO was first introduced by Quantenna, now a part of ON Semiconductor, in June 2018 as a way for infrastructure devices to be dynamic and change their 5GHz MIMO configuration between one 8×8 radio and two 4×4 radios depending on the end user’s home environment, such as number of client devices, amount of interference from neighbors and other factors. However, this technology can be an even more powerful solution as it can address the complex issue of 6GHz market adoption for Wi-Fi 6 gateways. Adaptive 6GHz MIMO means that one hardware design can adapt itself between one 8×8 5GHz plus one 4×4 2.4GHz radios (Configuration 1) and three 4×4 radios, each operating at 6GHz, 5GHz and 2.4GHz (Configuration 2). When this design is first deployed, the device infrastructure will reflect Configuration 1. By the end of 2023 with the market adoption of Wi-Fi 6 6GHz, the infrastructure device will operate in Configuration 2. This configuration can be controlled using intelligent analytics which determines the prevalence of 6GHz Wi-Fi 6 clients in a network. It is important to note that Adaptive MIMO design incorporates a new, unique, loss-less 5-7GHz FEM (Front End Module).

Figure 4. Adaptive 8×8 Design

The introduction of 6GHz is expected to bring about new performance and usability for Wi-Fi 6 devices. While it offers remarkable improvements in upcoming Wi-Fi 6 networks, it also has the ability to dramatically transform the wireless landscape. The next Wi-Fi standard, IEEE 802.11be, is set to establish 320MHz channel operation in the 6GHz band using up to 16×16 MIMO configuration on infrastructure devices. The combination of these developments can increase speed to over 40Gbps, offer previously unseen range performance, and lead to a new age of advance Wi-Fi applications. However, to get there, infrastructure devices must adopt intelligent and cost-efficient architectures, such as Adaptive MIMO.