802.11ax & 5G Networks

WIFI Alliance 802.11ax

The emerging IEEE 802.11ax standard is the latest step in a journey of nonstop innovation. 802.11ax builds on the strengths of 802.11ac, while adding flexibility and scalability that lets new and existing networks power next generation applications. IEEE 802.11ax couples the freedom and high speed of gigabit wireless with the predictability we find in licensed radio (LTE).

IEEE 802.11ax allows enterprises and service providers to support new and emerging applications on the same Wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure, while delivering a higher grade of service to older applications.

This scenario sets the stage for new business models and increased Wi-Fi adoption. IEEE 802.11ax lets access points support more clients in dense environments and provide a better experience for typical wireless LAN networks. It also powers more predictable performance for advanced applications such as 4K video, Ultra HD, wireless office, and Internet of Things (IoT).

Flexible wake-up time scheduling lets client devices sleep much longer than with 802.11ac, and wake up to less contention, extending the battery life of smart phones, IoT, and other devices.

5G & WIFI Together 

5G, and specifically 5GNR, has the potential to be disruptive in wireless hotspot connectivity. Despite that, Wi-Fi is also evolving and is achieving gigabit speeds with the latest version of 802.11ax. The 802.11ax standard solves the congestion problems of Wi-Fi by completely redesigning how Wi-Fi works and taking some best practices from LTE, making it significantly faster and less congested. It will also improve battery life.

From a technological point of view, 5G cellular is powerful enough to substitute existing Wi-Fi and could provide a much more consistent user experience. However, it needs a strong business case to justify the transition given the two technologies have very different market positioning.

Any proposed replacement technology must have a demonstrable and sustainable competitive advantage in at least one dimension (technology, financial, operations and so on), or it will fail. Wi-Fi is a technology which is a local-area wireless network based Internet service.

Despite using unlicensed spectrum, Wi-Fi has gained mass adoption commercially due to its cost effectiveness, devices support and ease of deployment. Various versions of Wi-Fi have been in place today with 4G LTE to supplement indoor connectivity and help offload the network traffic.

Wi-Fi also has access to a large trunk of spectrum, owing to a lengthy base of experience. Through dense deployments, spectrum is optimized via specialized protocols and is reused efficiently via small cells. Its massive installed base has helped Wi-Fi achieve the economy of scale that is very difficult to be replaced.

Horn it!

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