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. 


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.


High Density Antennas 101

December 15, 2016 at 8:00 AM


If you think multiple people using your home Wi-Fi slows down your connection, imagine an entire stadium full of people sharing the same connection. Large venues such as arenas, stadiums, convention centers and city centers are some of the most challenging environments for deploying a wireless network.


In these types of venues, large crowds of people are simultaneously trying to access Wi-Fi service from their devices. The high concentration of wireless users in these types of settings causes performance and capacity issues that make it difficult to provide reliable wireless coverage. This issue has led to the development of high density antennas.


High density antennas have a more focused beamwidth in both horizontal and vertical polarization than standard antennas. This minimizes channel-to-channel interference which helps improve coverage and provides greater capacity. The narrow beamwidth also allows the signal to be positioned exactly where it is needed, which reduces RF interference. All of which is ideal for areas with dense populations of wireless users accessing Wi-Fi at the same time.


Click here to take a look at L-com’s first high density antenna that was recently released.  

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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.

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