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Breaking through barriers

Wi-Fi is evolving to keep up with the boom in mobile device use in high density environments. Sam Fenwick has the details

In the cellular world 5G is just on the horizon and the same is true of 802.11ax – a new version of Wi-Fi, which is being developed as a standard in IEEE. It follows hot on the heels of 802.11ac wave 2, which was designed to allow Wi-Fi to better handle high-bandwidth applications running on an increasing number of devices. It achieves this through the introduction of multi-user MIMO, a doubling of the maximum channel bandwidth from 80 MHz to 160 MHz, the use of four spatial streams (up from three) and extended device support for channels in 5GHz.

802.11ax continues this direction of travel, with a focus on enhancing performance in dense and congested environments such as airports, train stations and stadiums. According to Intel, it’s expected to boost peak data rates for a single client device by up to 40 per cent and boost average throughput per user by at least four times in congested environments. One of the ways in which it will achieve this is through the use of downlink and uplink OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) – a key technique already used in LTE.

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