Why 802.11ax Is the Next Big Thing in Wi-Fi

Megalith

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Broadcom has announced the launch of the industry's first 802.11ax wireless chips, and some are already calling the new specification game changing: the standard will offer 4x to 10x faster speeds than existing Wi-Fi and increased throughput via multiple channels. It is also expected to be less congested and improve on battery life.

One technology that does promise to live up to the hype is 802.11ax, the next standard for wireless LANs. I say that because this next generation of Wi-Fi was engineered for the world we live in where everything is connected and there’s an assumption that upload and download traffic will be equivalent. Previous generations of Wi-Fi assumed more casual use and that there would be far more downloading of information than uploading.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I'll believe it when I see it.


IMHO, the last 15-20 years of wifi has just been one fail after another, with overinflated marketing numbers that bear no resemblance to actual real world performance figures.

The fact that the standard is only half duplex, has tremendous overhead, and suffers slowdowns from signal interference, walls, etc. Has made wifi nothing but unreliable slow crap.

I have a couple of WiFi access points in my house for things that absolutely need to be mobile, like phones, tablets and to a lesser extent, laptops. Absolutely 100% of everything else is wired. Nothing beats wired connections and nothing ever will.
 

Ranulfo

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Coming soon to shopping malls, tech stores and consumer electronic shows:

Excuse me sir, but may I ax you a question about your wifi? Ok. What do you use it for? Uh, the internet? I see, may I tell you about our lord and savior, 802.11ax?

You don't want to get axxed in the battlenets do you? KillerAX networking keeps you fragging and microwaving that hot pocket with ease!
 

Gigus Fire

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it's the same congested frequencies over more channels at once.
I fully expect the real world applications to be very limited in distance before other 802.11ax routers are causing massive interference.
If you really wanted to have a huge impact, you would need the FCC allow for more bandwidth on the unlicensed frequencies. That will open it up for more traffic/distance/speed.
Just adding more mimo doesn't solve the underlying issues which is congestion.
 

pcgeekesq

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I've actually been pretty involved with the 802.11ax standard, although not as a contributor to it. It's pretty interesting. One focus of it is high-density applications like stadiums, where there may be tens of thousands of stations (cell phones) talking to hundreds of Access Points (APs) all at once. It improves on this situation by using Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) Multi-user uplinks and downlinks to improve how efficiently the bandwidth is used, by recognizing opportunities to transmit in one Basic Service Set (BSS: an AP and it's associated stations) even while another nearby BSS is transmitting, and by using longer symbols (i.e. closer OFDM subchannel spacings) with proportionally shorter guard intervals to further increase efficiency.

it's not just more MIMO, although MIMO is still used of course. OFDMA is orthogonal to MIMO, you can use the two of them together.

I'm an old guy, so I'm pretty amazed by what the standard requires the AP and stations to do, and how quickly they have to do it. But all the WiFi silicon vendors were involved, and they think they can do it.
 

MavericK

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Wonderful..... what am I going to feed the AP's with.

Good question...we have the still-fledgling 802.11ad on 60 GHz which has awesome speed but terrible penetration and range, which nothing really supports yet anyway.
 

CacaSapo

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Solution to CPU speed stagnation: MOAR CORES!

Solution to wireless speed issues:
MOAR ANTENNAS!1!1111

I keep my laptop wired because AC doesn't cut it. Not holding my breath for AX.
 

RealBeast

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So by the time it is actually released, then products come out, and then people actually buy them it will be around 2030 and we will be using 100x the bandwidth as now so that 4x is going to be a big help.

Wireless tech is so far behind the usage that it is unlikely to catch up until some other, preferably lower frequency bandwidth is made available.
 

Gigus Fire

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802.11AX is not more antennas. It's OFDMA. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OFDMA
Let me ask this. I'll make the assumption that OFDMA utilizes the bandwidth more efficiently which is great for congestion on a single AP.
It probably exasperates the congestion issue where different APs are vying for the same frequencies stepping on each other.

Would you say this is a correct or incorrect statement/thought? Because what little i know of OFDMA is that it's extensively used in 4g/LTE technologies which doesn't have the issue with different services stepping on each other.
 

pcgeekesq

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Let me ask this. I'll make the assumption that OFDMA utilizes the bandwidth more efficiently which is great for congestion on a single AP.
It probably exasperates the congestion issue where different APs are vying for the same frequencies stepping on each other.

Would you say this is a correct or incorrect statement/thought?

I'd say incorrect. First, more efficient use of the spectrum always helps with congestion.

Second, 802.11ax includes techniques specifically designed to allow two nearby BSSs communicate simultaneously, in pretty much the way you can talk to your friend next to you on one side of the room while I talk to my friend on the other. We each just need to talk loud enough for our respective friends to hear us, but not so loud as to drown out every conversation in the room. 802.11ax does this by distinguishing between own-BSS and other-BSS (OBSS) communications, when possible, and through knowledge of transmit signal strengths, channel characteristics, CCA thresholds, and acceptable levels of interference for each MCS.
 

pcgeekesq

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Saw your post after I had written mine, but my level of skepticism hasn't changed. If this thing ends up having balls, then it'll replace my wired connection, if not, I'm still happy.
I'll never replace my wired connection. But I'll probably upgrade it to 10G sometime in the next few years.
 

Living Weapon

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wow, really surprised by all the skepticism. I mean, sometimes (2-3 times a month) I have to grab a cable, but most of the time wifi is fine - and damn is it easy-mode. tighter multi-access use of spectrum sounds great
 

Makaveli@BETA

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All of my machines that I need steady constant performance stay wired. The cell phones and the random laptops can go wireless.

You couldn't pay me to have a desktop/workstation on wireless don't care about what the marketing says.
 
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geekebox

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All of my machines that I need steady constant performance stay wired. The cell phones and the random laptops can go wireless.

You couldn't have to pay me to have a desktop/workstation on wireless don't care about what the marketing says.
I totally agree!!! That pretty much describes me too.
 

Gasaraki_

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More standards that take a million years to see products. ac, ad, af, ah, ai, aj, aq, ax ,ay, some of those specs have been out for awhile but no products.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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More standards that take a million years to see products. ac, ad, af, ah, ai, aj, aq, ax ,ay, some of those specs have been out for awhile but no products.


I don't know about you, but both of my access points in my house are AC, as are my phone and my fiance's phone and both of our laptops... Granted, for my fiance's laptop, I had to replace the mini-WLAN card in order to get it to AC, but still.

These other standards I agree, but AC has been quite established for a while now!
 

Gasaraki_

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I don't know about you, but both of my access points in my house are AC, as are my phone and my fiance's phone and both of our laptops... Granted, for my fiance's laptop, I had to replace the mini-WLAN card in order to get it to AC, but still.

These other standards I agree, but AC has been quite established for a while now!

I said SOME, I know ac's been out. I have had an ac router for years now.
 

pcgeekesq

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More standards that take a million years to see products. ac, ad, af, ah, ai, aj, aq, ax ,ay, some of those specs have been out for awhile but no products.
Sorry, that's not true. The 802.11ax standard, the subject of this thread, isn't even approved yet. The 1.0 draft was voted down, and they are addressing the problems people had with 1.0 in the 2.0 draft. A vote on the 2.0 draft will begin in September with circultaion of the 2.0 draft and a ballot. I believe formal adoption will be sometime next year if the vote goes well.

As usual, of silicon is being produced and products will be sold that implement the draft standard, in anticipation of the changes in the final adopted version of the spec being minor (and probably something you can adapt to using firmware.)
 

Riccochet

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You'll need 10 AP's to cover a 1000 sq/ft house due to piss poor range and penetration.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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You'll need 10 AP's to cover a 1000 sq/ft house due to piss poor range and penetration.


Obviously an exaggeration, but it is true that 5ghz does not penetrate walls very well. Thankfully they still keep 2.4ghz in the standard.

I find that a bigger problem than walls is for deployments (or people who live in) densely populated areas. There is constant interference with your 40 closest neighbors routers, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, wireless keyboards/mice and microwave ovens.

I find that in more rural areas wifi works much better.


Still there are ways you can make it less bad. One way is to get good access points. Instead of an all-in-one consumer router, get semi-retarded gear like Ubiquiti Uniform access points. I don't know how they do it, but I have seen them cut through the noise like it isn't even there in densely populated areas where even high end consumer routers fall flat on their faces.

I currently have two AC long range Unifi units in my two story 2200sqft place, in a densely populated area, in a turn of the century home with sense internal walls, and I still have good both 2.4 and 5ghz coverage throughout the house and yard. (Granted, very small lot). I probably don't even need the second unit, but I got it to be on the safe side.

So, there are ways to make it less crappy, but still it doesn't come even close to touching good copper wire runs and probably never will.
 

CacaSapo

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I'll never replace my wired connection. But I'll probably upgrade it to 10G sometime in the next few years.

Once I get a new NAS, I'm gonna bond the gig ports on my laptop and go for 2G. Looked at 10G pricing for a TB3 adapter and WOW, so, perhaps in a few years.
 

HoffY

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No shit dude
don't be so hasty. The amount of normies that think wifi will take over the world is in unbelievably "WTF" proportions. They just simply od NOT get it.

you'd think with two generations now having grown up with circuit boards in their mouths that they understand tech better but alas, they still have NFI.

And don't get me started on the Lame Stream Media.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Once I get a new NAS, I'm gonna bond the gig ports on my laptop and go for 2G. Looked at 10G pricing for a TB3 adapter and WOW, so, perhaps in a few years.


Bonding is trickier and not as effective as it at first seems.

I've been playing with 802.3ad link aggregation for years now, and while I ahve found places in which it works well (server workloads with many simultaneous connections that can be distributed across the connections) in most client workloads it is simply no better than having a single link.

10G can be expensive, but if you search around for used server pulls on eBay you can get into it much cheaper.

I had nothing but trouble with my 10G brocade fiber adapters, but now I have a matched pair of Intel copper 10gbaseT adapters and they work very very well.

The biggest problem with 10G for home or small business use is still the price of switches. This is why my 10G use is limited to a single direct link between my workstation and my NAS server on a subnet separate from my main network. Everything else is switched over my traditional gigabit switch.

10Gig switches are slowly creeping down in price, but it is taking MUCH MUCH longer than the transition from 100Mbit to Gigabit did, presumably because joe consumer doesn't care about woired Ethernet anymore. They just see wires as an ugly nuisance they'd rather not deal with, not understanding the limitations of WiFi.

The uneducated average consumer is always the death of everything I enjoy.
 

Living Weapon

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I've been doing tech a while, including being at Cisco back in 2002 when they and other vendors had pre-standard 100GbE and no market for it, and I'd counter that wifi is good enough a lot of the time (usually "just works").

I mean, of course wired is what you use for servers, or between your main rig and that NAS in the closet. One and done.

But when I wheel the 4k TV to the other wall b/c friends are over and we want a movie, wifi is good enough for what you can see 10+ feet away. Nobody needs to trip over wires. Awesome.

If I'm gaming or critically watching something close enough for 4k to matter, I'm probably also wearing headphones and sitting closer, in which case hell yeah I'm wired.

But incrementally wifi keeps getting better, specifically getting more consistent, to where there are more and more cases where I don't have to bother with a cable.

ps. Zarathustra[H] good call on used 10GbE for back to back - some used IB gear falls into those price ranges too. For folks running Linux NAS, Services on the NAS + Windows iSCSI over IB to the desktop is pretty amazing
 
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