You may have heard the buzz about the new wireless standard, 802.11ax, also known as High-Efficiency Wireless. Wi-Fi is important than ever with the increasing number of devices in our homes and used by our businesses.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing and connected devices are becoming more widely available. Additionally, the number of Internet-connected devices in our households has risen three times since 2012. It’s estimated that by 2022 that number will have grown to 50. We need faster, more reliable Wi-Fi. Enter 802.11ax.

What Are The Benefits?

802.11ax was created for high-density environments, such as public transportation, stadiums, airports, and other highly populated areas. It will also help where there are IoT deployments, apartment buildings, and offices that rely on video conferencing and high-bandwidth apps.

Another benefit of 802.11ax is increased battery life for Internet-connected devices. Instead of your phone constantly trying to find a wireless network in the background, which eats up battery life, 802.11ax has a new wake time scheduling feature. This schedules very short periods of time to sleep and schedules when to wake. These short sleep times add up to a big increase in battery life.

How Is It Different?

Previous versions of the Wi-Fi standard were created based on the assumption that it was being used casually, with more information downloaded for consumption than uploaded. However, with the rise of social media like Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook, people are uploading more content than ever. This leads to Wi-Fi congestion on an overcrowded network.

802.11ax no longer operates under that assumption. Instead, it’s based on equal download and upload traffic and for the IoT world where everything is connected. By using multiplexing technology, which was developed for LTE cellular technology, 802.11ax can deliver either a single stream at 3.5Gbps or four concurrent streams with bandwidth reaching as much as 14Gbps! This means that 802.11ax will be four to ten times faster than the previous wireless standard, 802.11ac.

How Does It Work?

We mentioned multiplexing technology earlier. LTE adopted a technology called orthogonal frequency division multiple access, or ODMFA. ODMFA divides each channel into hundreds of subchannels that each have a different frequency. The signals from each of these subchannels are then turned at right angles (orthogonally), stacked together and de-multiplexed. Using 802.11ax, the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands can be combined to create even more channels for data. Put simply, routers using the new wireless standard will combine transmissions and send data to multiple devices at the same time.

Using this multiplexing technology, sub-carrier frequencies (subchannels) are selected to eliminate cross-talk or interference between subchannels. It also makes guard bands (narrow frequency ranges used to separate frequency ranges) unnecessary, which frees up even more space. This means that multiple users can be on the same frequency at the same time without causing interference.

Are You Ready?

Even though several companies had 802.11ax routers available last year, it will likely take time before certified devices are made for this new wireless standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit group that promotes Wi-Fi technology, has said that they don’t expect to see widespread adoption until later this year.

For the enterprise, adoption may be even slower. Many businesses will want to wait to adopt the new standard until it has been revised and interoperability tests have been completed.

However, IT professionals should begin learning more about what 802.11ax means for their enterprise and start to plan for implementation in the future. To learn more about what this may mean for your business, talk to your Wi-Fi vendor about when they plan to adopt the new standard.
We’re also here to help you plan for the new wireless standard. Contact us and request a quote on wireless hardware.