5 things you need to know about MU-MIMO

October 3, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

When you’ve got multiple devices using the same network, multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) is the way to go. MU-MIMO enables numerous Wi-Fi devices to receive multiple data streams at the same time. This is exceptionally more efficient than the single-user MIMO used by many routers. Here, we’ll take a look at the top 5 things you need to know about MU-MIMO.

 

1.      One-Way or Two-Way

 

Whether MU-MIMO is one-way or two-way depends on the Wi-Fi standard being used. MU-MIMO utilizes the 80211ac standard, which works solely with downlink wireless connections. Simultaneously sending data to multiple users is something that only wireless routers and APs are able to do. When the individual wireless devices are sending data to that router or AP, they have to take turns or separately use SU-MIMO to send multiple streams when it’s their turn. That said, multiple wireless devices will be able to receive data and be able to utilize simultaneous streams for sending data when 802.11ax Wave 2 comes into play.

 

2.      OFDMA Takes It Up a Notch

 

Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology is part of 802.11ax and separates the channels into smaller segments so multiple devices can communicate at the same time. This technology compliments the capabilities of MU-MIMO. It organizes how the channels are used by allowing each device their own channel so they can coordinate when to talk more easily. While it is similar to MU-MIMO, OFDMA offers a different set of capabilities as it can be used in high density environments with low throughput or small-packet applications like IoT sensors.

 

3.      802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6) = Concurrent MU-MIMO Streams

 

The introduction of 802.11ax into the mix increases the number of users in a MU-MIMO group from four to eight. The ability to have more devices connected at the same time can improve throughput and make connections faster.

 

4.      2.4 GHz & 5 GHz are both Options

 

802.11n and 802.11ac limited MU-MIMO to the 5 GHz bandwidth, but with 802.11ax, MU-MIMO will now be able to use both the 2.4 & 5 GHz bands. While 2.4 GHz can only handle a maximum of three, small, legacy channels at one time, this improvement could allow faster speeds in the often overcrowded 2.4 GHz band.

 

5.      Benefits of Beamforming

 

MU-MIMO takes advantage of another feature of 802.11ac and 802.11ax, beamforming. This keeps signals from dispersing randomly in different directions by pointing it to the intended wireless devices. This, in turn, improves Wi-Fi speeds and ranges by using the signal more proficiently.

 

There you have it, five more reasons why MU-MIMO can be a game changer for your wireless network. To read more about MU-MIMO, check out more of our blog posts.

 

Gearing up for Wi-Fi 6

September 19, 2019 at 8:00 AM

 

I don’t know about you, but we are definitely looking forward to the debut of Wi-Fi 6 later this year. This next generation Wi-Fi standard improves on the current 802.11ac standard with more than just faster speeds. So let’s take a closer look at what’s in store.

 

First, Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11 ax, is backwards compatible with its predecessor, 802.11ac (now deemed Wi-Fi 5). Wi-Fi 6 was created to help support the increasing number of devices in today’s homes and businesses. If you have a lot of devices connected, several smart home devices or if you’re using virtual reality devices, a Wi-Fi 6 router might be a great fit.

 

So how fast is it? Wi-Fi 6 is capable of streaming up to 9.6 Gbps and has delivered transfer speeds of 1,320 Mbps in some tests. That is around 30%-40% faster than 802.11 ac, and for US customers, it will be 1,000% times faster than the current average download speed of 119 Mbps.

 

How is this possible? Wi-Fi 6 utilizes 1024-QAM to deliver more data and more efficiency, along with a wider 160 MHz channel for faster speeds. This new standard also takes advantage of 8x8 uplink/downlink, MU-MIMO, OFDMA and BSS Color for a capacity that is up to 4 times larger and able to handle more devices.

 

As with any Wi-Fi standard, much of the speed capability will depend on the speed being delivered by your internet service provider (ISP). In order to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6 speeds, you’ll need a plan with your ISP that is capable of delivering high speeds, as your plan acts much like a speed limit on how fast your internet connection can go. Plus, you’ll need both a Wi-Fi 6 router and Wi-Fi 6 capable devices to benefit from Wi-Fi 6 speeds. So hold on tight, because Wi-Fi 6 capable routers and devices are already rolling out and are sure to become standard in next generation wireless devices.

 

Standards Showdown: 802.11 Standards Side-by-Side

July 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

The IEEE is almost always working on another new amendment to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. We now have nearly as many 802.11 standards as there are letters in the alphabet, and keeping them straight can get confusing. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all of the 802.11 standards, old and new, for easy reference. 

 

All About MU-MIMO

May 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Multi-user multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO) is the next evolution of MIMO and is revolutionizing that way Wi-Fi routers operate. MU-MIMO allows routers to simultaneously send data to multiple devices. This is much more efficient than single-user multiple-input multiple-output (SU-MIMO) that many routers utilize. MU-MIMO allows all of your devices to simultaneously send and receive data from the router for multiple devices at the same time.

 

If you’re not excited about MU-MIMO yet, here are 5 reasons why you should be:

 

  1. 1.       MU-MIMO eliminates slow Wi-Fi speeds by making your router a super multi-tasker. Instead of sending little bits of information one at a time to each device, the router can now simultaneously transmit data to multiple wireless devices.

 

  1. 2.       MU-MIMO is great for video streaming and other high-bandwidth uses because it delivers a more dependable, faster Wi-Fi connection, there is a noticeable improvement in these data-demanding tasks.

 

  1. 3.       Not only do Wi-Fi networks get faster with MU-MIMO, they gain greater capacity. This means that home networks can service more Wi-Fi devices and public networks with many users will perform better.

 

  1. 4.       Even non-MIMO devices will experience improved performance. To fully utilize MU-MIMO’s benefits, devices must support the technology. But with MU-MIMO devices working faster, the router is free to communicate with other SU-MIMO devices.

 

  1. 5.       MU-MIMO costs less and is easier to implement than SU-MIMO. MU-MIMO doesn’t require multiple antennas or as much signal processing as SU-MIMO. It also uses a simpler standardized beamforming method that makes it easier for manufacturers to support.

 

As with everything, MU-MIMO does have some downfalls. For optimal performance, both the router and device must support MU-MIMO using 802.11ac on the 5GHz frequency. No more than four devices should be connected at one time, for full, optimal performance, and those devices should be stationary and not roaming. MU-MIMO also only improves the connection in one direction, from router to device, or the downlink, not the other way around. Still, MU-MIMO is slated to be a very impactful technology and potentially revolutionize the world of wireless networking. 

 

802.11ax - The Next Big Thing

March 2, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

The IEEE is at it again. Its long-running 802.11 series of standards will be reincarnated yet again with the launch of 802.11ax.  This next big upgrade to Wi-Fi networks might not make its debut for a couple of years, but here’s a look at what is coming.

 

802.11ax is under development and will pick-up where 802.11ac left off by taking MIMO to the next level with MIMO-OFDM. MIMO-OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing) technology will be capable of subdividing signals even further which ultimately creates a bigger "pipe" to deliver larger volumes of data. This will significantly expand and increase throughput to deliver five times more capability than the gigabit speeds promised by 802.11ac. Lab-based trials of 802.11ax have even hit max speeds of 10.53Gbps, or around 1.4 gigabytes of data transfer per second.

 

As impressive as those speeds sound, 802.11ax is not just focused on being fast; its real focus is high-density Wi-Fi deployments. This means that the goal is not only to improve speed, but to enhance the ability of connections to remain active even when there is heavy interference. This will make the system more efficient with the sophistication to successfully route pieces of messages to their destination. 802.11ax will operate in the 5GHz band, where there is plenty of space for 80MHz and 160MHz channels.

 

Before you get too excited, implementing a new standard is a time-consuming and rigorous process, so we won’t likely see 802.11ax ratified until closer to 2019. Then it will take even more time before certified hardware hits the market.

 

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