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802.11ax: What to Expect from Wireless’ Next Big Standard

802.11ax: What to Expect from Wireless' Next Big Standard

802.11ax: What to Expect from Wireless' Next Big Standard

Experts have estimated that by the year 2022, the average American household will be host to as many as 50(!) connected devices. With the rise of the Internet of Things, in addition to our demand for the newest tablets, phones, and computers, soon enough the current wireless standard won’t be able to keep up. Luckily though, it looks like we have a new wireless standard in our midst, 802.11ax. This new, long-in-the-works standard is expected to be faster and will be able to carry more weight, but beyond that, what can we expect from this new standard in terms of specifications?

802.11ax works on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and introduces OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access). This essentially helps to cut down on the amount of interference from other nearby wireless networks by using finer channels. The new standard provides up to four times the device capacity featured with 802.11ac. All in all, you can have up to 12 streams at a time, four in the 2.4GHz band and eight in the 5GHz band. Additionally, you’ll also get four times the user throughput with 802.11ax, and essential feature, if you expect to have each of your devices connected. If those features weren’t enough for you, 802.11ax also brings increased wireless coverage and increased device battery life.

After listing all the benefits you can expect from the new standard, you’re probably asking yourself when you’ll finally get to take advantage of it. Earlier this year, Qualcomm has already manufactured two chips for the new standard and it looks like all major router vendors will have models feature 802.11ax come the 2017 holiday season with the technology to appear in device in 2018. The peak speeds of routers using Qualcomm’s IPQ8074 chip should be 4.8Gbps, and clients using Qualcomm’s QCA6290 will go up to 1.8Gbps.

PC Magazine has listed a number of new technologies that 802.11ax employs 802.11ax is able to boost performance:

  • Improved multi-user MIMO means routers can steer wireless beams directly at up to right users at a time, up from from with 802.11ac. They can also now do this with both uploads and downloads, not just uploads as in 802.11ac.
  • Combining the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands creates more channels for data, and 1024 QAM encoding (which is an experimental feature in some 802.11ac routers) allows for more data per packet.
  • OFDMA means rather than having users take turns broadcasting and listening on each channel, up to 30 users will be able to share each channel.

With that being said, don’t expect to see a real noticeable difference for at least a few years. Because 802.11ax is a hardware upgrade, and not a software upgrade, both the router and the client will need to support the new standard. As more and more clients begin to replace older ag and n router models, wireless speeds and capacities will increase over time.

wireless guide coverFor information on the top 802.11ac solutions, check out our latest Buyer’s Guide:

  • Easy, side-by-side comparison of the top 802.11ac wireless vendors
  • Descriptions of each solution and their strengths
  • Important questions to ask yourself and potential vendors when considering a solution
  • Market overview of the current 802.11ac wireless space
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