WiFi at 25 Races Ahead with 802.11ax

The latest market deployed WiFi standard is 802.11ac which provides even more bandwidth and reliability than 802.11n. There is still further innovation yet to come in 802.11 with the upcoming 802.11ax standard.

From a bandwidth perspective 802.11ax could scale to 10 Gbps and beyond when the standard is completed. The higher bandwidth will be achieved by way of innovations in multi-user techniques.

“802.11n introduced spacial multi-plexing, where multiple antennas can talk to the same device and 802.11ac introduced the ability to talk to multiple devices simultaneously using different spacial streams,” Stephens said. “802.11ax introduces the reverse of that where the access point co-ordinates transmissions from multiple stations simultaneously.”

With 802.11ax there is also a technique that will divide a frequency channel into small slices and then devices will transmit their part of the message on that slice. That technique will make use of optimized slices for each particular device. The slicing technique also promises to offer greater ranger than 802.11ac.

The 802.11ax specification could also serve to further enable the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve range, though Stephen noted that today IEEE also has the 802.11ah specification which makes used of the 900 MHz spectrum for IoT.

From a timeline specification, 802.11ax is still years away from being a formal specification and might not be ready for the market until March of 2019.

“Since we started only one megabit of throughput back in 1997 with the first 802.11 standard, until 802.11ax is a 10,000 fold increase in throughput,” Stephens said.