802.11ad - What is WiGig?

November 15, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

As the evolution of wireless technology continues, so does the development of new wireless standards. Next on the list is 802.11ad – also known as WiGig. Most of the emerging wireless standards have been a steady progression, but this one has some fundamental changes planned. Here, we’ll explore what WiGig is all about.

 

As far as speed is considered, WiGig will support data rates up to 7 Gbps, though real data rates might be less than this maximum limit. WiGig operates on the 60 GHz frequency, as opposed to Wi-Fi which uses the 2.4 to 5 GHz bands. This should result in much less congestion compared to Wi-Fi’s congested frequencies and WiGig also shouldn’t have as many interference issues as there are on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band. Plus, it utilizes a narrow signal beam to reduce attenuation. But with a range of only around 30 feet and the 60 GHz signal unable to penetrate obstacles, WiGig is limited to one room with a clear line of sight from the transmitter to the receiver.

 

Instead of MIMO, WiGig uses multiple antennas for beamforming, which helps reduce attenuation. WiGig beamforming utilizes a phased antenna array that provides a signal power boost in whichever direction it is aimed. One of these access points can have as many as 64 antennas to generate up to 128 beams.

 

For multiple access, Service Period (SP), a new channel access mode, has been added to WiGig. This creates transmission schedules that are assigned to clients by access points. Time on the channel is organized into intervals called Beacon Intervals (BI). SP access is projected to be the preferred channel access in WiGig.

 

WiGig will also introduce a new mode of operation called PBSS. With PBSS, there is a central coordinator, like an access point (AP), but it allows clients to communicate while surpassing the AP. Clients can also talk to one another directly with this. PBSS is designed for applications that stream HD video to a display, because it doesn’t require the video to be sent through the AP, but it can still connect through the AP in other areas of the network.

 

In addition to 2.4 and 5 GHz, future Wi-Fi devices are expected to include 60 GHz radios and are expected to be capable of seamless transfers between the bands. Not only is WiGig bringing something new to today’s wireless networks, but it will add extra capability to future applications.

 

How the IoT is Affecting Wi-Fi

October 18, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In today’s society, Wi-Fi has become something that people now expect to be readily available and depend on to carry out everyday tasks. With the rollout of the Internet of Things (IoT), people will soon become accustomed to having all of their things connected as well. But with all of those connected devices, can Wi-Fi handle an even greater influx of user demand for high-speed connectivity? Here, we’ll take a look at how the IoT is affecting Wi-Fi.

 

When it comes to connectivity requirements, each IoT application can have a different set of range, data throughput and energy efficiency needs. Some IoT devices only need small, intermittent data transfers, such as utility meters. While some need a constant stream of data, such as live surveillance cameras. Also, range can differentiate from very short for wearables, to spanning miles for weather and agricultural sensor applications. But there are two things that are constants for all IoT applications: the need for remote power and constant connectivity.

 

To fulfill this need, Wi-Fi is the obvious choice because Wi-Fi coverage is so widespread, but standard Wi-Fi is not always the best choice for IoT applications. Thus, there are several standards that have emerged from the need for IoT connectivity. These include LoRaWAN, multiple short range communications standards and new Wi-Fi standards such as HaLow (802.11ah) and HEW (802.11ax).

 

The 802.11ah standard was introduced to address the range and power needs of the IoT. It utilizes the 900 MHz frequency band to provide extended range, covering a one kilometer radius, lower power requirements, wake/sleep periods and station grouping options.

 

The 802.11ax standard also includes the wake/sleep and station grouping features, and has a MU-MIMO feature that allows up to 18 users to simultaneously send data within a 40 MHz channel when paired with the smaller subcarrier spacing. Internet service providers and technology startups have also begun developing an application layer that includes mesh networks that use sets of routers to work together and extend wireless coverage, and provisioning tactics that define how wireless devices connect to networks.

 

There is some fear that the IoT could essentially break Wi-Fi, but there seems to be plenty of development activity focused around finding solutions to Wi-Fi congestion before it becomes a problem. With all of the IoT devices expected to be connecting in the near future, there will likely be a significant shift in Wi-Fi practices and standards, but as with everything in the world of technology, being able to pivot and reconfigure is the name of the game.

 

Smart Homes - The Future is Here

September 20, 2018 at 10:00 AM

 

Long ago, the idea of a home having the technology to be interactive was only a possibility in a Hollywood production or sci-fi novel. But those days are gone, the future is here and smart homes have moved from the realm of fantasy to an endless world of possibility. With the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), the world in general is becoming smarter and safer, and that includes our homes. Here, we’ll take a look at the technology behind the innovation bringing technological magic to your home.

 

First, what is a smart home? A smart home is automated, much in the way your coffee pot or your air conditioner are automated to turn on at a certain time or temperature. But a smart home takes that one step further by connecting all of those automated devices in your home through a wireless network, they are then able to be monitoring and programmed from one device. It is that communication with the devices that makes it smart. The devices in a smart home all rely on connectors and sensors to transmit and relay signals. Most wireless home automation uses low-power equipment so that power supply is not an issue.

 

To connect all of these devices, a combination of long and short-range wireless communication protocols is used, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT and ZigBee. With this technology, along with smartphones and tablets, we are now able to connect a multitude of devices within the home, this includes TVs, heating and cooling systems, lighting, appliances, security systems and cameras, or anything else that can be connected to the network. Plus, the communication to these devices is not distance limited, meaning you can control or change your thermostat while you’re at work or traveling using WAN connectivity via a router. Many new homes are being constructed with this technology built-in, older homes can be retrofitted with smart technologies and there are devices from companies like Google and Amazon that will connect to many electronics within your home.

 

Why would someone want a smart home? For one, it can make life a lot easier. Being able to control the devices within your home from your smartphone is super convenient. There is also an additional level of safety added when you’re able to monitor your home through a connected security network. Video cameras can provide surveillance in and around the home, with smart locks you can allow repairmen into your home and you are able to monitor when children get home from school. For people with disabilities or limited movement, smart homes that allow them to manage the home environment from a single, mobile device can make life much easier. In addition to safety, smart homes can be very energy efficient, which is good for the environment. Being able to control the thermostat remotely and turn lights and appliances on or off can be a great way to save energy.

 

With the growth of the IoT and more things becoming connected, it is no wonder that this would apply to our homes as well. Not only do smart homes provide convenience, they can also be good for the environment and give assistance to the disabled. Lucky for us, we no longer have to wait for the home of the future, the future is now. 

 

What You Need to Know About WiMAX 802.16

July 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

In the IEEE’s world of standards, 802.16 is dedicated to the global deployment of broadband metropolitan area networks. The technology for this standard has been named WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability of Microwave Access), it is used for long-rage wireless networking for mobile and fixed connections. Though not as popular as Wi-Fi or LTE, WiMAX has much to offer.

 

When compared to similar technologies, WiMAX offers low cost and increased flexibility. It is an OFDMA-based, all IP, data-centric technology ideal for use in 4G mobile. WiMAX can be installed with shorter towers and less cabling, which supports city or country-wide non-line-of-sight (NLoS) coverage. This cuts down installation time and saves on cost when compared to standard wired technology such as DSL. In addition to fixed connections, WiMAX service is offered through a subscription for access via devices with built-in technology. Currently, WiMAX is in many devices such as phones, laptops, Wi-Fi devices and USB dongles.

 

WiMAX is capable of speeds up to 40 Mbps over a distance of several miles. WiMAX can also provide more than just internet access, it can deliver video and voice transmissions and telephone access. All of these capabilities, plus lower cost and faster installation times make it an attractive option for areas where wired internet is too costly or not available. WiMAX can also be used in several other ways: as a backhaul to transfer data through an internet network, as a replacement for satellite internet for fixed wireless broadband access and for mobile internet access comparable to LTE.

 

After many revisions, WiMAX has now evolved into its most current version: WiMAX Advanced, which is backwards-compatible with previous versions (WiMAX Release 1.0 and 2.0). WiMAX Advanced utilizes all of the same capabilities while providing 100 Mbps mobile speeds and 1 Gbps fixed station speeds. Plus, WiMAX Advanced supports additional devices and broadband wireless access technologies, MIMO, beamforming and radio access technologies for operation within a multi radio access network. WiMAX is managed by the WiMAX forum, a non-profit group that certifies and endorses wireless products that are compatible with the 802.16 standard, these include WiMAX Advanced, AeroMACS and WiGRID.

 

Of course, there are drawbacks to WiMAX, speeds can get slower as the source gets further away. Also, when multiple users are connected at the same time, performance can suffer. WiMAX might never be as popular as Wi-Fi, but there are plenty of benefits that make it a good option to consider.

 

How Tech is Changing Transportation

April 19, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

These days, it’s hard to find a part of our everyday lives that’s not being transformed in some way by technology. Transportation is no different. Driverless cars have been at the forefront of most transportation technology discussions lately, but do you know other ways that tech is changing how we get from point A to point B? Here, we’ll take a look at some of the ways technology is changing the transportation industry.

 

Rail

 

Railways are one of the oldest forms of transportation still used today. At their inception, trains were a groundbreaking way for people to get back and forth for everyday commutes, to explore places they’d never been and to transport goods at speeds that were unheard of at the time. Rail systems are still used today for many of the same reasons, but they are much smarter. Today’s rail yards have wired and wireless technology that allows for communication throughout the rail yard to provide security, control and real-time data collection.

 

RFID technology has also been put in place to modernize asset management in rail yard operations. Instead of employees walking from one car to another, manually recording inventory, today’s systems use electronic scanners to record asset information accurately and without the variable of human error. This data is then sent back to a central office where assets can be monitored in real time.

 

Technology is also being used to make rail travel safer by using wayside monitoring applications to record real-time data such as speed, time of passing and track conditions. This critical information is used for real-time scheduling and to generate safety alerts.

 

Roadways

 

Until all of those self-driving cars get on the road, and possibly still after, making roadways safer is another way technology is affecting the transportation industry. In tunnels, cellular and Wi-Fi service are provided by antennas while IP cameras connect to an Ethernet network. These cameras provide real time surveillance to a tunnel control center, so traffic and safety concerns can be monitored live. Digital signs are also connected to the Ethernet network, allowing them to be controlled remotely.

 

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) use wired and wireless technology to control roadway traffic signals and vehicle and pedestrian safety systems. These systems utilize technology to manage traffic flow and ease congestion on the roads. Roadway security and overall safety is also improved with IP cameras and traffic sensors providing live surveillance and control.

 

With the use of wireless technology, roadside digital signs are able to deliver real time messaging along roadways with live updates being delivered from a central control office. These messages can include weather updates, traffic and road condition alerts and information on alternate routes, all of which can make travel easier, more efficient and save lives.

 

Maritime

 

An entire ship, including every part of shipboard communications and surveillance, can be managed via a central management station by using an Ethernet network and Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). 

 

IP cameras are used for monitoring, cables connect propulsion and steering systems to a controller, and antennas allow for voice and data communications and RFID management of cargo containers.

 

To load and unload ships, modern seaport terminals use automated crane systems to save freight companies millions of dollars in labor, maintenance and repairs. Computers are housed in a secure location, connected to Ethernet networks and used to control the cranes. This wireless network allows remote control over operations without the cost of running cables.

 

On the dock, keeping track of personnel, assets and ground support vehicles is made easier with wireless communications. Antennas allow for communication with the central operations command center. They also support Intermodal container RFID tracking systems which enable wireless devices to quickly and accurately process container and inventory information in real-time. With cellular and Wi-Fi communication between crews, freight companies can save money and increase security by eliminating the need for traditional radio communications.

 

For an in-depth look at what L-com products are being used to deliver technology to the transportation industry, click here.

 

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