SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Zeus Kerravala | August 17, 2017 |

 
   

Broadcom Takes Wi-Fi to the 'Max'

Broadcom Takes Wi-Fi to the 'Max' Releases new chips supporting the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard

Releases new chips supporting the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard

Wi-Fi has been a mainstream technology for the better part of three decades. Despite the longevity of the technology, it still has problems keeping up with the needs of todays mobile user.

Consider an event like Enterprise Connect. Prior to the opening keynotes, when people are sending out tweets and Snapchats making fun of Dave Michels or Kevin Kieller, everything seems fine. Then the keynote starts and stuff stops working -- no tweets, Facebook updates, or emails. Some people will just give up on posting to social media or doing anything else online. Others might only use their mobile phone. I actually carry a mobile hotspot specifically for those times I know Wi-Fi will be spotty. The fact is, it shouldn't be this way, but bandwidth-chewing applications that are synchronous in nature have evolved much faster than Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi speed has steadily increased but it still doesn't handle multiple users or large file uploads very well.

This week Broadcom announced a line of silicon that supports "Max WiFI," Broadcom's term for 802.11ax, the 6th generation of Wi-Fi. Unlike other generations of wireless LAN, the ax standard assumes a world where the amount of traffic being uploaded is equal to that being downloaded. Products that use the Max WiFi chips will have about 4x the download speed, 6x the upload speed, 4x better coverage, and up to 7x battery life than today's 802.11ac products. The improvements in Wi-Fi are made possible by the following features:

  • OFDMA -- 802.11ax include something called orthogonal frequency division multiple access, which comes from the world of LTE. Traditional Wi-Fi allocates a channel to a client and then holds it open until the transmission has ended. OFDMA slices the channels into tens or even hundreds of smaller sub-channels, each with a different frequency. Whenever there is a gap in transmission, a different client can fill in that spot. OFDMA can multiplex up to 30 clients on each channel, making the network much more efficient. OFDMA has greatly improved the congestion issues with LTE and should do the same with Wi-Fi. The feature also enables fine grained quality of service for high-bandwidth, latency-sensitive applications via advanced uplink and downlink scheduling.
  • Target Wake Time (TWT) -- One of the reasons why battery life suffers in client devices is that they're always checking to see if the AP is available and ready. If the AP is busy, the client needs to keep checking. With TWT, the APs tell the clients it's time to sleep and then provides a schedule of when to wake. These times are literally milliseconds between sleeping and waking, but this will have a significant impact on battery life.
  • Spatial frequency re-use -- This feature improves channel capacity efficiency by enabling the APs to make smarter decision on when to transmit data.

802.11ax also includes Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO), which was introduced with 802.11ac wave 2. This further increases capacity by allowing multiple devices to communicate with the AP simultaneously.

Broadcom released three chips for different uses cases. The BCM43684 is for residential Wi-Fi, and the BCM43694 is aimed at enterprise APs. These two chips have the following features:

  • Support for 4-streams of 802.11ax
  • 4.8 Gbps PHY Rate
  • 160 MHz Channel Bandwidth
  • 1024 QAM Modulation
  • Uplink & Downlink OFDMA
  • MU-MIMO
  • ZeroWait DFS
  • AirIQ Interference Identification
  • Full compliance to IEEE and WFA 802.11ax specifications

The third chip, BCM4375, is for smart phones and includes these features:

  • Support for 2-streams of 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth 5.0+ including Low-Energy Long Range (LELR)
  • Real Simultaneous Dual-Band (RSDB)
  • 1.429 Gbps PHY Rate
  • 1024 QAM Modulation
  • OFDMA
  • MU-MIMO

Now that the chips are available to early access partners, it's likely we'll see the first consumer APs by early 2018, with an outside chance of late 2017. The enterprise devices will follow, and then the client devices. Given the major changes to this standard, it's likely we'll see faster uptake of ax than we did with ac wave 2.

Good quality Wi-Fi is no longer an option. Digital organizations are looking to gather data generated off the Wi-Fi network to make better decisions, but people won't use it if the experience is poor. 802.11ax is bringing an entirely new approach to Wi-Fi and is something network managers should be educating themselves on now.

Broadcom is one of the dominant suppliers of silicon to the networking vendors and its family of chips should enable an ecosystem of devices and APs to come to market quickly. Network managers should be starting the educational process now, as 802.11ax products are literally around the corner.

Follow Zeus Kerravala on Twitter and Google+!
@zkerravala
Zeus Kerravala on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

October 18, 2017

Microsofts recent Ignite event had some critically important announcements for enterprise communications. Namely, Microsofts new Team Collaboration offering, Teams, will be its primary communicatio

October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.