Celebrating 20 Years of Wi-Fi
The fast pace of Wi-Fi 6 adoption and the significant opportunities that 6 GHz will deliver were some of the hot topics discussed at the recent Wi-Fi World Congress International Expo & Conference held in London.
Wi-Fi industry players (over 300 industry professionals and 35 exhibitors), gathered at the latest Wi-Fi NOW event to celebrate 20 years of Wi-Fi and reviewed the latest developments in the European market. Highlights included discussion on Wi-Fi 6 use cases in the industrial space (by Siemens) and IoT (by Imagination), as well as regulatory and policy discussion on 6 GHz availability in Europe (moderated by Saul Friedner, Cluster 1 Chair, UK Spectrum Policy Forum) among the topics covered.
Following a recent partnership with Wi-Fi NOW, Spirent team was at the London event, participating in a Q&A panel discussion on getting “Wi-Fi Quality and Reliability Right” and demonstrating the latest test solutions for accelerating adoption of new Wi-Fi technologies.
Take-Aways from Wi-Fi World Congress International
Wi-Fi 6 is becoming a reality: After listening to the presentations, it became clear that Wi-Fi 6 adoption is going faster than any previous Wi-Fi technology. As Kevin Robinson, VP of Marketing Wi-Fi-Alliance pointed out, over 100 companies have certified their Wi-Fi 6 products since WFA had started their certification program, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ in September, 2019, with 1.6B Wi-Fi 6 devices to be shipped by end of 2020 (IDC, 2019). He also mentioned, that in a recent survey conducted by Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), 90% of service providers surveyed had indicated that they planned to deploy Wi-Fi 6, two-thirds of them targeting 2020 for their deployments.
Wi-Fi is a basic need: “1 week without Wi-Fi would leave me grumpier than 1 week without coffee” claimed 75% of participants in a survey conducted by Liberty Global, referenced by Gavin Sheldon, Global VP of Connectivity. In a presentation, he compared the need for Wi-Fi to that of oxygen, with similar needs to breathe faster (10Gb), cleaner (improved band steering and channel optimization), breathe anywhere (indoor & outdoor availability), and safer (parental control, extra security, etc.)
6 GHz spectrum is the new frontier: The industry is optimistic about the possibilities of the 6 GHz spectrum (up to 1.2 GHz in the U.S. and 500 MHz in Europe), with monetization through new use cases (e.g. deterministic Wi-Fi 6, AR/VR, backhaul, etc.) A lot of work remains to be done, including the need for Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC), as Charles Cheevas, CTO of CPE Solutions at CommScope stated, with services providers benefitting from this spectrum the earliest, so they should lead the industry.
1-2-3 punch: MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and 160 MHz provides a great toolbox for service providers to leapfrog, no matter their priorities, together with 6 GHz, it will help revolutionize the Wi-Fi industry.
Wi-Fi innovations: Numerous new developments are being made in this space, examples include OpenSync, the open platform approach by Plume bringing scale, personalization, customer experiences and new services to the home; Wi-Fi Doppler Imaging by Celeno, enabling new capabilities in object location & tracking; and leveraging Wi-Fi for Eldercare by Cognitive Systems, through IoT devices in motion sensors.
I had a chance to participate in the Q&A panel discussion focusing on “Getting Wi-Fi Reliability and Performance Right”, moderated by Claus Hetting. It highlighted the challenges of reliability and performance since the technology’s first entry on the world stage 20 years ago. Key points included:
Importance of testing: Wi-Fi 6 represents a major technology evolution, offering a lot of new possibilities. In order to ensure that new products are developed and deployed to deliver on these promises, they need to be tested against industry specifications and deployment scenarios modelling real-world customer experiences. Services providers are testing new devices to ensure their performance, improve QoS/QoE and reduce field issues. Spirent has been working with service providers, network equipment manufacturers, and device vendors, providing industry-leading test solutions to help accelerate the adoption of Wi-Fi 6 technology.
Getting Wi-Fi to carrier-grade level: Due to several factors, it has been a challenge for the industry to assure deterministic Wi-Fi performance to end-users. With the introduction of OFDMA, coupled with other important features, Wi-Fi 6 can provide deterministic Wi-Fi in various deployment scenarios. Wi-Fi 6 test solutions are enabling the measurement of key performance indicators by emulating the real-life network, such as high-density deployments or performance at the edge.
Measuring Quality of Experience (QoE): With more and more services, applications and endpoints outside the Wi-Fi network, it is important to measure the QoE end-to-end. However, new products need to be developed with specific deployment scenarios and use cases in mind. Any performance limitations, including those noted in fully loaded conditions, various roaming situations, or various interoperability issues, must be addressed during the product development phase to ensure high quality customer experience after deployment.
Wi-Fi NOW London proved to be the perfect setting for celebrating 20 years of Wi-Fi, highlighting the latest opportunities and innovations in the industry, and sharing the most efficient ways for getting quality Wi-Fi products to market quickly and efficiently.