411 on 5G

November 1, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

For the past few years, the world of technology has been abuzz with talk about the 5th generation mobile wireless (5G), and with full-scale rollouts set to begin next year, all that buzz can be expected to become a swarm. For example, when wireless networks transitioned from 3G to 4G, there were incremental improvements in technology and performance, but the upgrade from 4G to 5G is expected to be a complete revolution of wireless and connectivity. To make sure you’re prepared to take part in the revolution, here’s the 411 to get you up to speed on 5G.

 

The goal of the 5G network is to create a platform that makes it possible to deliver global connection. This means being able to connect everyone and everything, everywhere around the globe. In addition to that, 5G systems are slated to deliver data rates that far surpass 4G in a wider coverage area, while being more power efficient and reliable, presenting lower latency, supporting faster moving equipment and the influx of communication stemming from the Internet of Things (IoT). Plus, 5G will not only support mobile wireless users, it will also include enhanced wireless connectivity technology for use in applications such as automotive, smart homes, augmented and virtual reality.

 

In order to cross into all of those markets, the specifications for 5G performance have been debated and defined. The finalized specifications were set to be released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) in 2020. Though mobile operators and service providers are urging the standardization organizations to accelerate that timetable.

 

With so much uncertainty still looming over the finalization of the standard, early releases are not shaping up exactly as planned. In the meantime, the non-standalone 5G new radio (NSA 5G NR) is the interim 5G specification and will help ease the transition from 4G to 5G. The NSA 5G NR supports many aspects of 5G including the sub-6 GHz spectrum, frequency bands, carrier aggregation and MIMO. With the new 5G frequency bands, NSA 5G NR is capable of 5G-like performance while utilizing existing technologies and infrastructure. This interim specification will provide the groundwork for future trials and deployments and allow for the technology to be better understood for the full 5G rollout.

 

With the excitement of early 5G availability, there have also been new application opportunities emerging that include fixed wireless (FWS) to the home. This development would use 5G wireless technology to provide last mile data services including television, home internet and voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone calling. As the launch of early 5G gets closer, there are bound to be additional new and existing applications to arise that would benefit from 5G’s lower latency, increased data rates and enhanced reliability. Until then, we will have to wait with great anticipation for the arrival of 5G.

 

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Readers’ Choice -Top Blog Posts of 2017

December 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

As we wrap up another year, we’d like to take a moment to look back on some of our most popular posts. We pride ourselves on providing informative content for our readers by covering a range of wired and wireless technology topics. We sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading our posts as much as we enjoyed writing them and in case you missed anything, here’s a highlight reel of the most popular posts of 2017.

 

 1.       Cable Showdown: Cat6 vs. Cat6a

 

It’s a Cat eat Cat world out there and Cat6 and Cat6a are two of the most popular standards for Ethernet cables. So, how do you decide between the two? One may work better than the other, depending on your application. To help you pick a winner, we compared them side-by-side for a showdown of category proportions. To see how each Cat fared, read the post.

 

 

2.       White-Space Wi-Fi 802.11af

 

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. Read the post to find out how it all works.

 

 

3.       OM5 – The Next Generation of Multimode Fiber

 

OM5 was chosen to be the new standard for cabling containing wideband multimode fiber in the 3rd edition of the ISO/IEC 11801 standard. The acceptance of this standard is a milestone for the fiber cabling performance category because it extends the benefits of this revolutionary multimode fiber within connected buildings and data centers worldwide. To find what you need to know about OM5, click here.

 

 

4.       802.11ax – The Next Big Thing

 

The IEEE will be adding to its 802.11 series of standards again with the launch of 802.11ax. 802.11ax is under development and will pick-up where 802.11ac left off by taking MIMO to the next level with MIMO-OFDM. 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’s coming.

 

 

5.       75 Ohm vs. 50 Ohm – Coaxial Comparison

 

Ohm may sound like something you’d say while meditating, but when it comes to coaxial cables, it is actually a unit of resistance. Ohms measure the impedance within the cable. Impedance is resistance to the flow of electrical current through a circuit. To see how 75 Ohm and 50 Ohm compare, read our post.

 

 

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.

 

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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