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.

 

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. 

 

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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