Is Wi-Fi 6 All-powerful?

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In early days of the Wi-Fi era, only indoor APs were available and network connectivity was the sole concern. Users were unsatisfactory with the wireless experience until scenario-based wireless solutions emerged. These solutions boosted development of different types of APs for various industries and application scenarios. However, the scenario-based wireless solutions were far from enough for the complex wireless network maintenance, and the wireless experience just reached the passing score (60 points). In this regard, Ruijie proposed “unattended network optimization” and launched the wireless intelligent service (WIS) for automatic and unattended maintenance, which upgraded the wireless experience to 85 points. Then, what can we do to raise the score to 100 points?

Issue 1: Both the wireless transmission rate and single-user throughput limit increase from Wi-Fi 1 to 5, but the user experience remains sluggish, especially in office environments.

Issue 2: Users in one room have different network experience even though they subscribe to the same data plan.

Issue 3: Devices with full signal cannot connect to the network, or underperform even when they are successfully connect to the network.

Issue 4: The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Wi-Fi network are assigned with the same frequency band. The IoT applications, for example, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and asset locating devices in a factory workshop, can access only either of them.

Issue 5: Wireless experience in a public place such as a library or a waiting hall deteriorates when users increase.

Solution to issue 1: Wi-Fi 6 enables more robust networks.

In a metaphorical example, a vehicle is a packet and a road is a channel. In the preceding figure, the normal case on the left is equivalent to normal transmission of Wi-Fi 5. When the road encounters intra-system interference, for example, interference between APs, Wi-Fi 5 queues the interference information together with to-be-transmitted packets for sequential transmission. Apparently, transmission efficiency of the road is decreased.

If the road encounters non-Wi-Fi interference, for example, from a micro-wave oven, Wi-Fi 5 possibly switches the original packets to another road. This means serious packet loss. Therefore, Wi-Fi 5 handles interference at a time cost or by switching between channels, which ultimately leads to deteriorated user experience.

Then, how does Wi-Fi 6 handle this case? As shown in the right part in the figure, Wi-Fi 6 manages the road in a more refined way by dividing the road into multiple lanes. When there is interference, Wi-Fi 6 designates a dedicated lane for interference information, to ensure that normal packets and interfering packets are transmitted on respective lanes of the same channel. Wi-Fi 6 switches from the time domain to frequency domain, to fully utilize spectrum resources for better user experience.

Solution to issue 2: Wi-Fi 6 enables more balanced networks.

As shown in the preceding figure, a truck is a long packet such as a video, while a motorcycle is a short packet such as text information. Apparently, trucks occupy most resources on the road. When the proportion of long-packet services is high, users have poor user experience with short-packet services. This is why users have different network experience when they subscribe to the same data plan.

In this solution, Wi-Fi 6 also manages the road in a refined way by dividing the road into narrower lanes to transmit more packets at a time. Wi-Fi 6 can designate wider lanes for long-packets. To be specific, through intelligent application identification, Wi-Fi 6 adapts different packets to most suitable radio frequency units, that is, most suitable road widths and lane widths. In this way, Wi-Fi 6 enables fairer and more balanced networks so that users with the same data plan have the same network experience.

Solution to issue 3: Wi-Fi 6 makes networks more reliable.

If devices with full signal cannot connect to the network, interference occurs or signals are weak, as shown in the figure above. In this solution, a motorcycle is considered as a weak terminal which cannot get over the obstacle or may even fail to be associated.

To handle this case, Wi-Fi 6 divides the road. As shown in the figure, the rock does not destroy the entire road, and a truck can get over the rock. Therefore, Wi-Fi 6 allows motorcycles to travel on flat lanes and trucks to travel on rugged ones, that is, intelligently divides the spectrum into upper and lower parts, so that Wi-Fi networks are available once discovered. In this way, Wi-Fi 6 enables healthier and more robust networks and provides superb user experience.

Solution to issue 4: Wi-Fi 6 enables more harmonious networks.

Concurrent support for Wi-Fi networks and IoTs is expected in consideration of future applications. However, IoT applications such as Bluetooth and Zigbee operate on a frequency band that is almost the same as the 2.4 GHz frequency band of Wi-Fi networks. To concurrently use Wi-Fi networks and IoTs, a time cost is required, or all Wi-Fi users need to be guided to the 5 GHz frequency band. The former practice deteriorates network performance by 50% above, while the latter wastes 2.4 GHz resources.

In contrast, Wi-Fi 6 divides spectrum resources separately for Wi-Fi networks and IoTs, so that Wi-Fi information and IoT information are transmitted on different lanes.

Solution to issue 5: Wi-Fi 6 enables more efficient networks.

The preceding issues are limited to small-size networks with possibly only one AP. However, Wi-Fi 6 can also enhance the entire network. For example, in a conference with many participants, if one participant speaks as loudly as the host does, it is very likely that other participants cannot hear the host’s voice. If the participants are divided into four groups, the host can choose to listen to a member in one group. In this way, all members in the groups can hear others’ voices. Wi-Fi 6 enables networks to be more efficient through grouping.

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