The Race to Faster Data Rates WiFi Moving Soon Beyond 1 Gbps


(T) I am a strong believer that WiFi will be the most ever deployed networking technology with Ethernet. There are two reasons for that. First, is that businesses have been replacing Ethernet with WiFi networks. No other technologies has ever been a threat to wired Ethernet. Second, is that cellular networks are presently not able to provide the bandwidth required to support the emerging very rich media applications of the new Mobile Internet. In the lab, 4G LTE can provide up to 100 Mb uplink and 50 Mb downlink but present commercial deployments of LTE are just offering 10% of those numbers. We prefer using WiFi instead of cellular. We are only using cellular for the Mobile Internet when WiFi is unavailable. The only occasion where we are not using WiFi even when it is available is when we have to pay for it (consumers do not like to pay for something that they are used to have for free).

WiFi is every where, even in the planes and particularly in our homes. Beyond eliminating wires at home for the TV, the printers and the other devices, WiFi is generating new types of applications by enabling our home devices to be connected. I can record my sister composing on a piano, improve the recording on my Mac with GarageBand, and finally have it played on my stereo systems.

Not only WiFi is everywhere at work, at home, at the coffee shop, at the library, at the airport but WiFi is scaling.

The present IEEE 802.11n has brought some significant improvements to previous 802.11 a/b/g  in particular by supporting OFDM (the most efficient encoding technique to multiplex the signals), MIMO (multiple inputs and multiple outputs that enables both the transmitter and the receiver of the wireless signal to have two or more antennas), efficient MAC aggregation of smaller frames into larger ones, more efficient MAC acknowledgment, and some power savings. 802.11n, operating from 2.4 Ghz to 5 Ghz, can scale from 54Mb/s to 150 Mb/s, can combine two 20 Mhz adjacent channels therefore leading to a maximum data rate of 600 Mb/s when MIMO with two inputs/outputs is employed.

While 802.11n has been very successfully adopted, IEEE is presently defining 802.11 ac that should operated in the 5 Ghz band and be compatible with 802.11 a/b/g/n. 802.11 ac will likely use wider channels, perhaps 160 Mhz, be MU-MIMO, multiple users MIMO, and likely to reach 1 Gbps.

At the same type a number of vendors formed the Wireless Gigabit Alliance and are proposing a new specification called WiGig, and a candidate to the new IEEE 802.11ad to scale up to 7 Gpbs!

Definitely, WiFi has everything that it needs to keep going.

Note: The picture above is the Mac store on Fifth Avenue in New York.

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Categories: Networking