Wi-Fi i2018: What does the future look like?


The world of enterprise Wi-Fi moves fast, but 2018 is going to see gear based on 802.11ac Wave 2 remain the state of the art – its successor, 802.11ax, is still one for the future.

Wave 2 is the latest Wi-Fi standard to be certified by the IEEE. Its main technological innovation is MU-MIMO, or multi-user multiple-input, multiple-output. In practice, this means that manufacturers can create access points that talk to multiple devices at the same instant. Earlier APs had to handle multiple streams sequentially.

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802.11ax’s key technology is something called orthogonal frequency-division multiple access, or OFDMA. This is a transmission technique that, in essence, allows multiple devices to share not only the same access point, but the same Wi-Fi channel at the same time. Previous-generation Wi-Fi can’t do that, so OFDMA means that 802.11ax has a substantial leg up on current technology, particularly in terms of large numbers of devices sharing the same access point.

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