While attention on Qualcomm has focussed on 5G capable chips, the American multinational semiconductor and telecommunications giant this week revealed its second generation networking platform, the Qualcomm Networking Pro Series, following Cisco in releasing a Wi-Fi 6-ready technology stack.
Most of us have experienced poor connectivity at large public events, be that in a stadium, college campus or a conference centre. Wi-Fi networks can only handle so much incoming traffic from devices and as the number of devices vying for the network’s attention has grown; so has demand for a better Wi-Fi standard.
Wi-Fi 6, or as it’s more technically known 802.11ax, is the next generation of Wi- Fi protocols and hardware that will ensure Wi-Fi connectivity is not outpaced by the evolution of mobile technology with 5G.
The emerging standard will see data-transfer speeds increase roughly by a factor of three. While transfer speeds of over 1,200 Mbps will be useful for downloading content, the new tech might not be too noticeable in an individual home as ISP’s rarely supply that level of bandwidth. However, it will really be noticeable at large events when several thousand users connect to a network without any issues.
“Wi-Fi 6 is a transformational reimagining of how Wi-Fi works, a leap forward arriving alongside 5G and designed to accommodate the massive surge of connected devices,” commented Nick Kucharewski, VP of wireless infrastructure and networking at Qualcomm in a release.
One of the key features of Wi-Fi 6 is Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA). Essentially OFDMA allows a router to use a single channel to interact with multiple clients and devices. The result is that if a user is streaming a video conference while ten people at the table are also trying to post on social media the router will service them all simultaneously.
It does this by dividing up the channel it is using to send signals across the frequency bands 2.4 or 5GHz into little bits of frequency allocations known as resource units (RU). Each RU and channel divide gives the router another avenue to send out data packages to devices. No longer does the router have only one road to deal with traffic, this equals a lower latency for the network.
Qualcomm state that its network Pro series platform which uses OFDMA technology can facilitate uplinks and downlinks across multiple bands allowing it to support up to 37 users per 5GHz channel used.
Mike Feibus, president and principal analyst at industry research firm FeibusTech commented in a release that: “The proliferation of connected devices combined with exploding demand for video streaming and other types of real-time data are straining the average Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi 6 is built to address the needs of modern Wi-Fi networks, offering increased network capacity for high-density environments.”
Qualcomm Networking Pro Series
Qualcomm Networking Pro Series has been divided into four platform tiers, Pro 1200, 800, 600 and 400 platforms. Each tier is differentiated by the number of data streams they can support and connectivity frequencies available to them. Each platform runs on a Quad-core A53 processor.
Qualcomm’s Networking Pro series chips have support for the firms mesh networking technology also known as Wi-Fi SON.
This mesh tech allows networking gear to automatically choose and connect an array of wireless networking devices together. The firm’s premium offering in the series the Qualcomm’s Wireless Pro 1200 uses a 4×4 stream for incoming traffic and a 4×4 stream for outbound traffic, as well as a 4×4 stream for wireless backhaul, which moves data from end users to nodes in the network.
The Pro series uses Qualcomm’s technology to create a differentiated maximum user networking architecture. Simply put this network architecture allows network gear to maintain connectivity for up to 1500 clients simultaneously. This has numerous public and industry uses as the number of devices trying to connect to Wi-Fi’s in stadiums, hospitals and schools has significantly risen.
Morgan Kurk, chief technology officer, CommScope commented in a release that: “We’re excited about using the new platform to address the current and emerging needs of our education, hospitality and large venue customers, in particular. Wi-Fi 6 is uniquely equipped to handle the growing demands arising from the transition to digital learning in schools to the widespread adoption of augmented and virtual reality in stadia, to everything in between, and Qualcomm Technologies’ Wi-Fi 6 technology is once again a preferred solution.”