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802.11ax: The Sixth Generation of Wi-Fi

- May 24, 2018 - 3 Comments

Wireless has evolved dramatically over the last 15 years. The way that Wi-Fi is used in our everyday life today could not be envisioned at the turn of the century.

The explosion of personal devices, IoT and the applications that drive today’s business can be attributed to wireless. Part of this growth has been driven by the Wi-Fi standards, which have also evolved over time. Different standards being released every few years address the current and future needs of business, organizations, service providers and consumers. We are approaching another milestone in this Wi-Fi journey with the pending ratification of what will be the sixth generation of Wi-Fi: 802.11ax.

Cisco, along with other vendors have been working with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) on 802.11ax. When ratified, 802.11ax will build on the success of 802.11ac and deliver a better experience in typical environments, and a more predictable performance for advanced applications such as 4K video, high density high definition collaboration apps, all-wireless office and Internet-of-Things (IoT). 802.11ax will drive Wi-Fi towards the future as the growth of wireless continues.

The IEEE 802.11ax emerging standard, also known as High-Efficiency-Wireless (HEW), builds off the 802.11ac standard by adding features designed to:

  • Increase the capacity of WLAN networks
  • Provide improvements in the number of clients supported by an access point
  • Allow for better throughput and better coverage.

802.11ax is designed to use both 2.4Ghz and the 5GHz bands, unlike the prior 802.11ac standard.

Cisco is obviously looking at this pending standard and working to incorporate 802.11ax along with our innovation to build the best access point and end-to-end solution that will drive our customers towards future growth. Building from its rich history and experience in wireless networking, Cisco is one of the leading vendors who are driving the standard in the IEEE 802.11 Working Group. Cisco has added significant value in innovative features on top of the standard. Flexible Radio Assignment, High Density Experience technologies like CleanAir and ClientLink, Hyperlocation technology and the new Aironet 4800 Access Point with Intelligent Capture are all examples of RF innovations.

With any new Wi-Fi standard, there are many questions that our customers will have. With this in mind, Cisco has written a technical white paper on the 802.11ax standard called The Sixth Generation of Wi-Fi. This white paper should be used to educate yourself on the features and benefits of this emerging Wi-Fi standard.

As we eagerly wait for 802.11ax to emerge, Cisco is excited about how 802.11ax will benefit future networks. However, keep in mind the adoption of 802.11ax including supporting clients and Enterprise-grade access points are still in the future. Migration to the new standard, as with all such transitions, will take place in phases over time. During this transition period and well into the future, Cisco Aironet 802.11ac Wave 2 Access Points will be more than capable of meeting the needs of enterprises. All Cisco 802.11ac Wave 2 AP’s are compatible with legacy 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and future 802.11ax devices.

Recent Cisco Aironet Access Point innovations: We are continuing on the Wave 2 innovations such as:

In the meantime, as interest in 802.11ax continues to grow, let Cisco be your source for all 802.11ax information.

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3 Comments

  1. Interesting, thank you! And thanks for pointing to the white paper, very much worth reading.

  2. In the white paper titled "802.11ax: The Sixth Generation of WiFi", there seems to be an error in Table 1. The math on final result does not tie in. The reason is that "Time per OFDM symbol" column shows that Short Guard Interval (400 ns) is to be used for calculation, while the final result is using Long Gaurd interval (800 ns). For example, the 1SS throughput is listed as 390 Mbps, whereas the calculation yields 433.33 Mbps as the throughput for 1SS. Other values should be similarly corrected.

    • Hii Anil, We have corrected this and posted an updated version of the 802.11ax white paper here: https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/products/collateral/wireless/white-paper-c11-740788.pdf Thank you for pointing this out Regards, -Bill