The Wi-Fi Alliance today announced a significant rebranding of the "802.11" Wi-Fi standards that have long served as a source of potential confusion for users: Going forward, the current 802.11ac standard will be known as Wi-Fi 5, while its successor 802.11ax will be known as Wi-Fi 6, establishing a generational terminology that — like Bluetooth 3, 4, and 5 — will be easier for customers to remember and understand.
[...] Today's announcement is significant not just because of its impact on currently popular Wi-Fi standards, but also on one that's been on the fringe: 802.11ad. Also known as WiGig, 802.11ad notably depends on an extra, 60GHz millimeter wave wireless antenna to boost speeds of compatible devices in the same room as the router. A handful of routers and devices, including wireless VR adapters, have adopted 802.11ad over the past year or two.
But the announcement makes clear that the Wi-Fi Alliance sees 802.11ax, not 802.11ad, as the next stage of Wi-Fi's evolution. 802.11ax has no need for the extra antenna, instead making more efficient use of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands already used by 802.11ac — err, Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 promises up to 11 Gbps speeds across three or more devices, with a single Wi-Fi 6 device achieving up to 5 Gbps.
In a statement to VentureBeat, the Alliance explained how Wi-Fi 6 and WiGig will coexist:
"Wi-Fi 6 and WiGig, based on 802.11ad and eventually 802.11ay, will continue to evolve in parallel and remain strong complements to one another within the Wi-Fi portfolio of technologies. We fully expect some products to integrate Wi-Fi 6 and WiGig, which will remain a distinct brand to indicate products that support 60 GHz Wi-Fi for multi-gigabit, low-latency connectivity."
Related: Wi-Fi Alliance Approves 802.11ah "HaLow" Standard for the 900 MHz Band
D-Link Joins Hands With Microsoft to Give 'Super Wi-Fi' a Push
Intel to Cease Shipments of Current WiGig Products, Focus on WiGig for VR
The Wi-Fi Alliance has approved a new Wi-Fi standard that increases network range rather than frequency and bandwidth:
The Wi-Fi Alliance announced that it approved a new wireless technology standard called the 802.11ah. The devices supporting it will work on the 900MHz band and will have twice the range of devices working on the 2.4GHz band. The new standard is meant to be used in smart homes, connected cars, digital healthcare, as well as in agricultural, industrial and smart city environments.
In the past few years, the Wi-Fi Alliance approved the 802.11ac standard, which provides roughly 1Gbps bandwidth over the 5GHz band, as well as the more recent 802.11ad, which has even higher multi-Gbps bandwidth, but works over a much shorter range on the 60GHz band.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has been focusing on improving bandwidth performance at the cost of range and lower obstacle penetration. However, with the new 802.11ah standard, codenamed "HaLow" (made up of the "ah" letters and the "low" word from low-power), the Wi-Fi Alliance wants to extend the range of its wireless technology and lower the power consumption for the embedded devices that will end up using it.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the 900MHz band will allow the new wireless technology to not only have double the range of the current Wi-Fi standards, but it will also be able to penetrate walls and other obstacles more reliably.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
D-Link and Redmond have put the paddles on 802.11af, charged the machine, and hit the button.
The 2013 amendment to Wi-Fi is an air interface for "white space" frequencies (from 54 MHz to 698 MHz in the USA; Europe and the UK use a more realistic 490 to 790 MHz), with a maximum per-channel 35.6 Mbps (16 channels can be bonded together to get nearly 600 Mbps).
It's primarily a point-to-point link service rather than a user-access technology, and so it doesn't interfere with TV transmissions, 802.11af uses a cognitive radio to sense other spectrum users, and a localisation database to keep track of broadcasters.
Data rate, however, isn't the main story: compared to 2.4 GHz, TV frequencies cover a lot of ground, and that's the angle D-Link and Microsoft are touting.
The standard is designed for links up to 1 km in range, the kind of reach that 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi can only manage with a cantenna.
The two want to use 802.11af for rural/regional services in underserved areas, with a phase-one pilot currently underway in the US.
Intel is discontinuing its current 802.11ad "WiGig" products by the end of the year, but will continue to work on using WiGig for untethered wireless VR headsets:
Intel is formally initiating the EOL program for the Wireless Gigabit 11000 and Tri Band Wireless-AC 18260 controllers, the Wireless Gigabit Antenna-M M100041 antenna and the Wireless Gigabit Sink W13100 sink today (September 8). Intel is asking its partners to place their final orders on its WiGig-supporting network cards, antenna and sink by September 29, 2017. The final shipments will be made by December 29, 2017.
[...] The WiGig short range communication standard enables compatible devices to communicate at up to 7–8 Gb/s data rates and with minimal latencies, using the 60 GHz spectrum at distances of up to ten meters. WiGig cannot replace Wi-Fi or Bluetooth because 60 GHz signals cannot penetrate walls, but it can enable devices like wireless docking stations, wireless AR/VR head-mounted displays, wireless storage devices, wireless displays, and others that are in direct line of sight. Intel's current-generation WiGig products were designed primarily for notebook dockings. A number of PC makers released laptops featuring Intel's Tri Band Wireless-AC 18260/17265 controllers and supporting docks featuring Intel's Wireless Gigabit Sink W13100. These WiGig-enabled solutions were primarily targeted at their B2B customers in business and enterprise segments.
However, WiGig has never seen any adoption in mass-market laptops, displays and other devices. The vast majority of advanced notebooks these days come with either USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports supporting up to 10 or 40 Gb/s data transfer rates (respectively), DisplayPort 1.2 and other protocols, thus providing far better performance and functionality than WiGig, albeit at the cost of a tethered connection.
[...] What is interesting is that Intel is not disclosing whether they have plans to introduce any new WiGig products for laptops or tablets, byt they say they will be continuing their 802.11ad work with a focus on VR headsets. Earlier this year HTC and Intel already demonstrated a wireless HTC Vive operating using the WiGig technology, but didn't reveal whether it used its off-the-shelf WiGig silicon or custom yet-unannounced solutions for the project.
Qualcomm is launching a family of chips that can add incredibly high-speed Wi-Fi — at speeds up to 10 gigabits per second — to phones, laptops, routers, and so on. It's the start of a new generation of this super-fast Wi-Fi standard, but it isn't going to be used to speed up your typical web browsing. And whether it catches on at all remains an open question.
[...] WiGig relies on a connection standard known as 802.11ad, which can hit speeds up to 5 gigabits per second over close to 10 meters, according to Dino Bekis, the head of Qualcomm's mobile and compute connectivity group. Qualcomm's latest chips move WiGig up to a new generation of that wireless standard, called 802.11ay, which Bekis says can reach speeds twice as fast, and can do so up to 100 meter away. The Wi-Fi Alliance says the new standard "increases the peak data rates of WiGig and improves spectrum efficiency and reduces latency."
So why not just use this as normal Wi-Fi, given how fast it gets? Because that range is only line-of-sight — when there's literally nothing in the way between the transmitter and the receiver. This high-speed Wi-Fi is based on millimeter wave radio waves in the 60GHz range. That means it's really fast, but also that it has a very difficult time penetrating obstacles, like a wall. That's a problem if you want a general purpose wireless technology.
[...] It's not clear if this will really catch on, though. While there's definitely room for adoption from VR gamers, the earlier version of this tech has found minimal pickup in its couple years on the market. Asus recently made interesting use of it with the ROG Phone, which is designed for gamers. And Qualcomm says it's working with Facebook to use this tech for its Terragraph project, which wirelessly delivers home internet connections.
Also at Engadget.
Related: AMD Acquires Nitero, a Maker of Wireless Chips for VR Headsets
Intel to Cease Shipments of Current WiGig Products, Focus on WiGig for VR
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Wi-Fi Alliance Rebrands Wi-Fi Standards
Intel has quietly launched its first Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless network adapter, codenamed Cyclone Peak. The new WLAN adapter will deliver up to 2.4 Gbps network throughput when used with a compatible access point, but, like Wi-Fi 6 in general, its main advantage is that it will work better than existing adapters in RF-noisy environments where multiple Wi-Fi networks co-exist.
The Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 is a CNVi WLAN card that supports 802.11ax via 2x2 MU-MIMO antennas over the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. And never found too far from a Wi-Fi card, Intel's AX200 also supports Bluetooth 5.0.
[...] Intel's web-site says that the first Cyclone Peak wireless network adapter has been launched, so the device is available to makers of PCs. Depending on the order, the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 costs Intel's customers from $10 to $17.
One of the commenters linked to this paper about 802.11be, a generation of Extremely High Throughput (EHT) Wi-Fi technology beyond 802.11ax that could offer a maximum throughput of at least 30 Gbps.
The FCC has been considering the opening up of the 6 GHz band (essentially, the 1.2 GHz unlicensed spectrum span just above the currently used 5 GHz band) for unlicensed operation. Wideband unlicensed channels of 160 MHz and more may become essential to achieve expected performance from 802.11ax, 802.11be, 4G LTE, and 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum. Opening up a continuous 1200 MHz chunk will enable substantial amount of new bandwidth over multiple wide bandwidth channels.
Unfortunately, even though there are no currently unlicensed users of the 6 GHz band, certain fixed wireless point-to-point long-range deployments are licensed to utilize it. Wi-Fi platform vendors such as Qualcomm and Broadcom have been confident of working with those users to prevent any interference. Their key message to the licensed incumbents is that any Wi-Fi deployment in the 6 GHz band would use LPI (low-power indoor) operation and can also implement AFC (automated frequency coordination). LPI operation, for example, may impose restrictions on the total EIRP (effective isotropically radiated power) and PSD (power spectral density) for Wi-Fi devices. This will prevent interference due to low power levels and substantial building losses. In addition, most licensed users of the spectrum have their point-to-point endpoints well above the ground (mounted atop towers and buildings), and devices rated for LPI operation are not likely to affect them. AFC involves the maintenance of a database where licensed users are tracked based on their deployment location, and any unlicensed Wi-Fi usage in that spectrum capable of interfering with the licensed users could automatically shift to a different channel.
The Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing a new terminology to distinguish upcoming Wi-Fi 6 devices that are capable of 6 GHz operation - Wi-Fi 6E. This is essentially the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax (higher performance in terms of faster data rates as well as lower latency) in the 6 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to make it to the market relatively quickly after regulatory approval, as it only requires changing the antenna tuning / RF front end on existing devices.
802.11be is likely to become Wi-Fi 7 and also operate in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands.
In retrospect, the new Wi-Fi naming scheme is not that bad. Or at least, it's not as bad as USB yet.
Previously: Wi-Fi Alliance Rebrands Wi-Fi Standards