There are a lot of great things about WiFi solutions. One of the best is that the different versions just keep coming. It truly is a success story. And the IEEE – which is charge of the care, feeding and extension of the franchise – doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time congratulating itself.
The next flavor of Wi-Fi is 802.11ax. Enterprise Networking Planet notes that Wi-Fi has been with us for a quarter century before describing “ax.” 802.11ax will increase average WiFi speed to up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) or more. The major breakthroughs, according to the story, are the abilitiy of an access point to simultaneously handle transmissions from multiple stations and the fact that frequencies can be subdivided into small slivers.
“The easiest way to think of 802.11ax is to start with 802.11ac — which allows for up to four different spatial streams (MIMO) — and then to massively increase the spectral efficiency (and thus max throughput) of each stream. Like its predecessor, 802.11ax operates in the 5GHz band, where there’s a lot more space for wide (80MHz and 160MHz) channels.”
In addition to MIMO antennas, the emerging standard will use some form of orthogonal frequency division access (OFDM) modulation.
The end of the story offers a good news/bad news kicker: The gist of it is that the new standard is very fast – but that other elements of the network, such as the storage in mobile devices – could be the limiting factor. This could be an issue. In other words, it doesn’t pay to buy a Lamborghini if you live on a rutty, unpaved road.
The network challenges eventually will be solved. Network evolution is a game of hop scotch, however, with the weakest link moving. When 802.11ax comes along – which should be in the 2018 , according to the Extreme Tech story – the sticking point will be the elsewhere in the network.
That’s more or less the message from Venture Beat. It goes through the technology of 802.11ax and makes the point that the current latest and greatest -- 802.11ac -- still is struggling to gain traction in business. Most enterprises still are using 802.11n. That means, simply, that the salad days for 802.11ax will be well after it technically is available.
It will be a while before organizations have the option of implementing 802.11ax. The best idea now is to develop a general approach to Wi-Fi: The multitude of Wi-Fi standards means that organizations almost certainly will run hybrid networks where more than flavor is used.
The focus should be on creating networks that serve the purposes for which they are intended, not have the fastest average wifi speed. After all, that Lamborghini is pretty poor choice for picking up bags of compost at Home Depot.