Qualcomm makes its 802.11ax wifi move – it’s all about capacity

Qualcomm has unveiled a couple of chips that support the new 802.11ax wifi standard, which puts an emphasis on increasing capacity.

The IPQ8074 is designed for network infrastructure, including routers, and the QCA6290 is for client devices like smartphones. The 802.11ax standard claims significant increases in capacity and consequent speed and efficiency gains, thanks to more efficient use of spectrum.

A key development is the support of 8×8 MU-MIMO, which allows eight devices to be served simultaneously, apparently without any degradation of signal. OFDMA is the other major concession to spectral efficiency.

“Capacity – not peak speed – has become the most important measure of a network’s ability to handle the ever-increasing demands of today’s diverse mix of application and services,” said Rahul Patel, GM of connectivity at Qualcomm. “We were the first to commercialize capacity utilization-focused solutions, such as MU-MIMO, wifi SON and 802.11ad, and are now on the front lines of 11ax innovation that will propel the wifi industry into the next phase of high-capacity, high-efficiency networks.”

“We are excited about the potential impact that 802.11ax will have in the home and small businesses,” said David Henry, SVP of home networking at Netgear, in the Qualcomm press release. “802.11ax is not an incremental upgrade to keep pace with today’s demands. The technology will reset the bar for what matters most in networking, and will lay the foundation of network capacity for years to come.”

“Wifi is now an essential element of every corporate, education, service provider and public network. IT executives are reporting their biggest challenges are capacity and scalability, given the enormous growth of users,” said Anand Oswal, SVP of the enterprise networking group at Cisco, who had also been roped in to the canned-quote procession. “As industry leaders, we are driving innovations that address our customers concerns, and we view 802.11ax as the culmination of key advancements that will cement the future of enterprise mobility.”

Any journalist who has reflected on the irony of inadequate wifi provision at a technology press event will feel cautious optimism around this announcement. As well as the current problems associated with wifi in densely populated places, the likely demands of 5G make spectral efficiency for wifi more important than ever, so 802.11ax looks like a good thing.

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