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.

 

Catch the Wave - 802.11ac Wave 2

October 6, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

The world of technology has a certain ebb and flow. As soon as the newest technological development comes ashore, it quickly becomes outdated and is overcome by the next best thing. As markets dictate, the tides are turning again and 802.11ac Wave 2 will come crashing in taking over where 802.11ac Wave 1 left off.

 

802.11ac Wave 2 technology builds upon 802.11ac Wave 1 with significant enhancements including faster speeds, multi-user capability, easier delivery of large files and greater overall performance. Wave 2 has the performance enhancements needed to connect a massive influx of next generation mobile devices to Wi-Fi networks. As a superset of Wave 1, 802.11ac Wave 2 supports all data rates of Wave 1 and is backward compatible with previous 802.11 standards including 802.11n.

 

Here is a side-by side comparison showing how Wave 2 stands up against Wave 1 and the benefits that go along with it.

The 411 on MU-MIMO

April 14, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

Have you ever noticed that when multiple devices use your Wi-Fi connection, you get much slower download speeds and choppy video streams?  This is because your Wi-Fi router probably uses single-user multiple-input, multiple-output (SU-MIMO), which means that all of your devices have to take turns because the router can only service one device at a time. This problem will soon be a thing of the past, with the next evolution of MIMO: Multi-user multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO).

 

MU-MIMO and is set to revolutionize the wireless networking world by allowing Wi-Fi routers to do something they’ve never done before – simultaneously send data to multiple devices. Instead of your phone, TV and tablet taking turns receiving transmissions from the router, MU-MIMO will allow all of your devices to simultaneously download data.

 

How MU-MIMO Works


Wireless routers are good at sending data, but they can only send it in one direction. This means they can only talk to one device at a time. With SU-MIMO, the router sends little bits of information, very quickly, one at a time to multiple devices – kind of like a data machine gun. You are likely to never notice this break in service, but because the router can only focus on one device at a time, your wireless internet connection slows down when there are multiple devices connected.

 

MU-MIMO eliminates sluggish Wi-Fi speeds by allowing the router to simultaneously transmit data to multiple wireless devices. The router communicates with all of the devices at the same time using a separate stream for each device, as if each has its own personal router. It provides a more dependable, faster Wi-Fi connection because each device doesn’t have to share a data stream with other devices. This brings about a noticeable improvement for video streaming or other high-data tasks, even when more devices are connected.

 


Benefits of MU-MIMO

 

MU-MIMO will improve everyday Wi-Fi use by making networks vastly more efficient.Not only will networks be faster, they will also have an increased network capacity. This means that home networks will be able to handle more Wi-Fi devices and public Wi-Fi networks with a lot of users will also perform better.

 

In order to utilize MU-MIMO, the devices must support the technology but non-MIMO devices will also see improved performance. With MU-MIMO devices being served more quickly, there will be more time for SU-MIMO and other devices to communicate with the router.

 

MU-MIMO devices are not required to have multiple antennas or perform as much signal processing as SU-MIMO requires. MU-MIMO also utilizes an easier, standardized  beamforming method which will allow different manufacturers to support MU-MIMO technology more easily than they could with 802.11ac and SU-MIMO implementations. This new technology is also cheaper to implement and doesn’t require sophisticated Wi-Fi devices, unlike SU-MIMO. This is likely to result in more devices supporting the technology, and thus a bigger impact on Wi-Fi networks as a whole.

 

Plus, with MU-MIMO, data sent from the router to Wi-Fi devices can only be read by the intended recipient, the data is unreadable by other people/devices. The data is essentially encrypted, which provides an additional layer of protection for users.

 

Limitations of MU-MIMO


As great as MU-MIMO is, there are some limitations. To get the full benefit, the router and device must support MU-MIMO. MU-MIMO was added to the 802.11ac standard in 2013 and is slowly being incorporated into some products, but is not yet widely available.

 

Currently, MU-MIMO standards can service four devices downloading at the same time. Adding more devices will require them to share a data stream, leading to the same issues experienced with  SU-MIMO. The technology also only works on the downlink connection (from the router to devices) it doesn’t improve uplink connections (data incoming to the router, i.e. an upload to the Internet).

 

MU-MIMO also works best with stationary devices. If you are walking around your house while watching a video on your phone, you will not get the full benefit.

 

MU-MIMO is one of the most impactful emerging technologies to hit the market in recent history. Allowing multiple devices to simultaneously download has the potential to revolutionize the world of wireless networking. 

 

For more general information on MIMO, read our blog post How MIMO Can Help You.

 

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