Fast arriving new applications such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 4KTV and the billions of Internet-of-Things connected devices will require next-generation Wi-Fi 6 to deliver the right experience for billions of end-users around the world.
Wi-Fi technology has become a fundamental part of our daily lives since it hit the mainstream well over a decade ago, we use it to connect our phones, tablets, computers, TVs and countless other devices to the Internet.
However, as we move into an era when new applications such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 4KTV are going to require hundreds of megabits of bandwidth then current generation Wi-Fi – especially public Wi-Fi where hundreds of people are online simultaneously – is simply not going to be able to deliver the quality of service needed.
The reason for this is simple, like any wireless technology Wi-Fi capacity is shared between all of the end-users on the network, so the more end-users on the network and the more data they are using then the less is available to each end-user and so you start to get problems.
Most people will have experienced this at a sports stadium, shopping centre or maybe a transport hub where the Wi-Fi on offer simply doesn’t have enough capacity to deliver what the thousands of end-users need from it.
The good news is that we now have a solution to this problem.
The launch of Wi-Fi 6 technology today here in Australia by Huawei to our Enterprise customers is the first stepping stone on the road to delivering near 10Gbps Wi-Fi access points into the market – delivering four times more capacity than Wi-Fi 5 technology.
That means that a Wi-Fi 6 access point can serve up to 400 connections at the same time which is critical at a time when we are connecting billions of IoT devices to our Wi-Fi networks.
Huawei’s Wi-Fi 6 technology delivers this improved experience buy using smart-antenna technology which ensures that end-users connected in each direction can enjoy a good signal coverage quality and that the signal can adapt to users steadily as they move around
In addition, Huawei’s Smart Radio technology can also intelligently identify the user service type and accelerate latency-sensitive and roaming-sensitive services, guaranteeing the optimal user service experience.
Wi-Fi 6 will deliver an improved end-user experience anywhere but the real sweet spot for the technology are the kind of high-traffic locations where hundreds, maybe even thousands of end-users are using the Wi-Fi network at the same time.
A good example of this would be a university campus where they typically have
30,000 students located across several acres of the site.
As those students and teaching staff begin to use more and more bandwidth intensive applications those current generation Wi-Fi networks are going to start to run into challenges.
That’s why universities and other large institutions, sporting organisations and others running large-scale public Wi-Fi network need to think very seriously about upgrading their networks to Wi-Fi 6 as soon as they can to meet the needs of the future.
With its ability to support a large number of end-users the number of Wi-Fi access points required to cover the same area and the same number of end-users will be far less than when using Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 technology – so this makes sense from an economic point of view too.
Wi-Fi is a crucial component is our connected lives and will remain so long after the arrival of 5G into the marketplace so it’s crucial that Wi-Fi continues to meet the increasing needs of its end-users – and Wi-Fi 6 will most certainly do that and more.
Dr Osama Aboul-Magd is Chairman of the IEEE 802.11ax Working Group and Distinguished Engineer at Huawei.