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. 

 

White-Space Wi-Fi 802.11af

May 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Waste not, want not, seems to be a growing way of life for many people these days, and that theme will soon apply to the Wi-Fi spectrum as well. The IEEE standard 802.11af, also known as white-space Wi-Fi or White-Fi, will utilize the unused space in the TV spectrum, the TV white-space, to support Wi-Fi networks.

 

How is this possible?

 

Broadcast television coverage is organized to leave a certain amount of space between coverage areas to avoid interference. This results in a significant amount of space where channels are unused. 802.11af allows Wi-Fi applications that require less power to utilize the white-space between coverage areas without causing interference.

 

Why do we need White Space Wi-Fi?

 

The need for more spectrum is greater than ever. 802.11af fulfills this need by allowing wireless networks to take advantage of the white-space in the frequency spectrum. 802.11af provides support for operation in unused TV channels in the VHF and UHF bands, which adds white-space services to 802.11 WLAN devices and builds upon the 802.11ac offerings.

 

What are the benefits?

 

In addition to providing more spectrum for Wi-Fi use, 802.11af allows for long-range and low-power operation because it uses frequencies below 1 GHz. This means it will work more like a traditional Wi-Fi network to increase bandwidth over a long-range wireless local-area network (WLAN).

 

The lowest band used by current Wi-Fi systems is 2.4 GHz. 802.11af operates in the 6, 7 and 8 MHz channels, which makes it backward compatible with existing international TV band allocations.

 

Operation can be arranged for 1-4 channels, either contiguously or in two non-contiguous blocks, allowing devices to collect enough spectrum to achieve high data rates. Plus, there is a possibility that additional unused frequencies can be accessed to add even more capabilities.

 

Here is a chart showing the 802.11af frequencies and corresponding TV white-space channels:

 

 

 

White-space Wi-Fi 802.11af is not going to be the perfect solution for all applications. But it is going take processing technology to another level by providing access to more spectrum to meet today’s ever-growing Wi-Fi needs.

 

HaLow Wi-Fi for the IoT

April 13, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 


The Internet of Things (IoT) might have found a saving grace for keeping all of those “things” connected. HaLow Wi-Fi, pronounced like halo (hay-low), is coming to scene with a list of virtues p

erfect for smart homes, smart cars, smart cities, and even healthcare, industrial, retail and agriculture.

 

Generally, we’re used to Wi-Fi aiming to achieve lightning fast speeds with the ability to move large amounts of data.  But with IoT devices, there’s no need for super-speeds and the amount of data being transmitted is typically small.  The real need of the IoT is for devices to remain connected wherever they are without dwindling power supplies or depending on cellular data. 

 

HaLow Wi-Fi is slated to offer double the coverage range of traditional Wi-Fi while lowering power consumption. This would not only set it apart from other Wi-Fi standards, but also make it ideal for many IoT applications. Thus, the Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping HaLow will replace cellular networks in smart cities and Bluetooth radios in wearable devices.

 

HaLow is an extension of the IEEE 802.11ah standard and uses the 900 MHz bandwidth instead of the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. The 900 MHz band is a low-frequency workhorse usually reserved for microwaves ovens and baby monitors. By using this robust frequency for Wi-Fi, the signal is able to reach further and penetrate objects and obstacles without dwindling the device’s power supply – many of which run solely on batteries.

 

Reported data rates for Halow are between 150 kilobits and 18 megabits per second. This is significantly less than traditional Wi-Fi rates, but speed is not the focus in this case. For the IoT,  power consumption, reliability and distance are the priority. The HaLow standard will be official next year and might be exactly the  divine intervention needed for the IoT.

 

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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.

 

Readers' Choice -Top Blog Posts of 2016

December 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

As another year comes to a close, so does another chapter of our blog, Engineering Hub. We covered a wide variety of topics in order to keep you, our readers, in the loop with what’s going on in the world of wired and wireless technology. Here are highlights of the 2016 posts that were the most popular with our readers.

 


1.       802.11ay: 20 Gig Wireless!


The next generation wireless standard will blow you away with triple the speed and 30xs the transmission distance of 802.11ad. Learn about all of the benefits of 802.11ay and what it means for the world of wireless networking technology. (Read more)

 

 

 

2.       Fiber Showdown: Multimode vs. Single mode


Multimode and single mode are the two most common types of fiber optic cables. Both have very different attributes and one may work better than the other, depending on the needs of your application. This post will help you decide which will give you the best results. (Read more)

 

 

 

3.       Cat6 Cable: Shielded vs. Unshielded


Category 6 Ethernet cable is designed to provide high speed data rates, but how do you decide between shielded or unshielded? Here, we compare them side by side so you can choose which will work best for your application. (Read more)

 

 

 

4.       Good Vibrations: Vibration-Proof USB Connectors

 

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is one of the most widely used technologies to connect and power devices. One fundamental flaw of USB is its sensitivity to vibration, causing the connector to dislodge. In this post we show you some solutions to keeping your USB connected. (Read more)

 

 

 

5.      Next Generation Positioning: A look at what’s around the corner

 

GPS apps and positioning technology is something we use everyday to get directions or find something or someone nearby, and that usage is expected to continue to grow at a staggering rate. Here’s a look at what the IEEE has in store for next gen positioning technology. (Read more)

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