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.

 

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