At the end of this blog, we answer the following frequently asked questions in addition to other topics:
Q1. What is WiFi?
Q2. What is WiFi 6?
Why Is There a Need for Carrier WiFi?
With the increasing demand for wireless data, WiFi is becoming the preferred network choice for users. Wireless and cable operators are set to deploy over 325 million by 2018. As a result, data traffic offloading from 3G and 4G wireless networks is expected to increase multi-folds and ease the network traffic and congestion issues. To match the pace with this tremendous increase in the hotspots deployments worldwide, Carriers need to strategize to stay ahead of this WiFi availability boom. A strategic Carrier WiFi Platform that supports more seamless and secured connection to customers – will be the key to keeping up. Many experts believe that Carrier WiFi represents the future for WiFi operators.
How Can Operators Plan a Successful Carrier WiFi strategy?
Three WiFi concepts that are sweeping the industry as listed by a leading wireless architect for a renowned research firm are as under. Operators can tap into these WiFi building blocks to sharpen their strategies and ensure a high-quality, consistent user experience:
- WiFi Multimedia Quality of Service (WMM QoS) is a WiFi extension that classifies and prioritizes traffic types for users connected to hotspots based on application access type for e.g. Whether a user is accessing a high streaming bandwidth application like video or accessing chat messages, mail or voice, allocating the bandwidth as per application type thus allowing the user to have a better quality of service for multimedia access and deliver enhanced user experience.
- WiFi 2.0 is an emerging new concept that enables a secure and globally robust WiFi roaming experience. This would allow users to seamlessly connect to a network and roam from one network to another without having to enter their login credentials.
- Multi-band operations allow communication and messaging to take place between the access point and station. The access point will steer the station to a less congested channel or band which will ultimately provide a better experience for the user.
Exploring WMM QoS, WiFi 2.0 and multiband operations will keep operators relevant and competitive in today’s evolving industry. A technologically evolved Service Management Platform supporting all the above functionality and supporting the strategic rollout for Service providers plays a key role. Service providers require a WiFi platform that can enable differential QoS, support various roaming industry standards and interfaces and is pre-integrated and highly interoperable at an access level for seamless operations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is WiFi?
Put simply, Wifi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a Wifi hotspot that people in its vicinity may avail to get access to internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a Wifi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.
To get a little more technical, Wifi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN, that allows for devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since Wifi signals need to carry significantly greater amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).
Q2. What is WiFi 6?
WiFi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is also a common name for Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). WiFi 6 is the newest and fastest version of the WiFi 802.11 wireless local area network specification standard. IEEE 802.11ax or commonly marketed as WiFi 6 by the industry body WiFi-Alliance is a major advancement over its previous generation that offers multiple devices to run concurrently on one network without compromising on the data speeds and response times.
The 802.11ax standard was approved by the IEEE on 9th February 2021 is designed to operate between 1 and 7.125 GHz, including the widely used 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. To better understand, WiFi or Wireless Fidelity devices usually translate radio waves into binary code using a technique called QAM ie Quadrature Amplitude Modulation. The older generations of WiFi are capable of 256 QAM ie it could send 8 bits of binary data in a single transmission whereas WiFi 6 is capable of 1024 QAM ie 10 bits of binary data in a single transmission.
This significant increase helps WiFi 6 devices to provide 30% faster speeds than its predecessors. The previous WiFi standards like 802.11/a/g/n/ac used OFDM which meant all of the subcarriers or tones were allocated to a single device at any instance of time. WiFi 5 introduced Multi-user MIMO enabling multiple users on the wireless medium at the same time thereby adding multiple users across different streams with each device using all of the subcarriers.
With WiFi 6, OFDMA can now portion up the individual sub-carriers or tones and these can be allocated to a number of devices. Apart from greater bandwidths, higher data speeds snd lower latencies, WiFi 6 also offers better spectrum utilisation using orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA), Multi-user MIMO support, better power consumption and enhanced security protocols.