Bad News in the World of Enterprise 802.11ax

Bad News in the World of Enterprise 802.11ax

802.11ac has been kicking around for about 10 years now, and while the trusty wireless standard has served enterprises well in those years, who can help but look forward to 802.11ax? Well for the wireless junkies out there, it looks like you’re going to have to hold on just a bit longer. Following Broadcom‘s Tuesday announcement of a new 802.11ax compliant chips, experts have reminded the wireless world that it’s unlikely the new standard will be available to enterprise wireless customers before late 2018.

802.11ax is the next major overhaul of the wireless systems that we use in the traditional 2.4 and 5GHz frequency bands. The new standard will add a technology called orthogonal frequency division multiplexing to the multi-user MIMO technology introduced in the second wave of the existing 802.11ac standard, reaching potential throughput of around 10Gbit/sec and more easily handling dense, complex network topologies that feature many different types of devices, including IoT.

The IEEE, the organization that codifies the standards used in commercial wireless hasn’t yet finalized the new standrd yet and the new compliant chips from Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Quantenna.

“I think it’s important that the chips get out there with the understanding that things can change,” said Craig Mathias, principal at the Farpoint Group. “So far we haven’t seen any instances where chips have been produced that had to be tossed.”

Pre-Standard hardware is typically released on the consumer side because of its low cost and that it’s often used for individual devices rather than entire campus deployments. Many vendors are often a bit hesitant to offer pre-standard hardware to enterprise customers.

You shouldn’t let all that bad news ruin your day though; the current 802.11ac Wave 2 standard has been a massive step forward for wireless technology, introducing a number of new advancements. Additionally, mu-MIMO technology is only just getting to adopted after years of being in production. With all that being said, don’t stick around waiting for the next great wireless development when there’s plenty to be excited about right now.

Doug Atkinson
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