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.

 

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