802.11ax Wi-Fi. Wireless LANs are critically important to the future of business. Companies are connecting more things to the network, with most of them connecting to Wi-Fi. Also, organizations are looking to capture usage information from the Wi-Fi network to understand what customers and employees are doing so they can offer better services to make consumers happy and workers more productive.
The problem is, and forgive my language, the Wi-Fi experience sucks in many places. How can that be you may ask? The last release of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac Wave 2 promised Gigabit Wi-Fi, so we should have much more speed. But the problem isn’t about speed, it’s congestion. Consider you are sitting in the audience at your favorite conference, and there are 10 minutes before the keynote address begins. You’re emailing, tweeting, texting and Facebooking with no problem. Then the keynote starts, and nothing works. That isn’t speed; its congestion because too many people are trying to access the Wi-Fi network.
None of the advancements in Wi-Fi have addressed the congestion issue, but 802.11ax does. The technology uses something called orthogonal frequency division multiple access (ODFMA), which is a technical way of saying it can multiplex channels. Traditional Wi-Fi enables one client device to connect to the AP per channel, and it stays connected until the session is finished even if no data is being passed. ODFMA chops each channel up into smaller subchannels so signals can be stacked on top of each other. This lets each channel handle 30 client devices instead of a single one. 802.11ax will lead to a significantly better user experience than we have today.
To date, Aerohive is the only Wi-Fi vendor that has announced 802.11ax products, but I expect by summer will see announcements from every major Wi-Fi vendor. (Note: Aerohive is a client of ZK Research.)