The next wave for Wi-Fi connectivity is 802.11ac Wave 2. It’s the next generation of the 802.11ac standard, and it’s not a draft, but a ratified standard that brings serious network benefits to users of 802.11ac Wave 2 devices.
Naturally, most people aren’t using 802.11ac Wave 2-class devices yet, but if you’re using any of Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphones and tablets, a simple firmware update is all you’ll need to enabled Wave 2 access.
However, it’s not just a Wave 2-class device that you’ll need, but a Wave 2 capable access point, and the first company in the world to bring one to market is Ruckus Wireless, which likes to cause waves and, well, make a big noise.
iTWire covered its launch a month ago in an article entitled ‘Waving, not drowning: Ruckus Wireless to drown Wave 2 802.11ac users in connectivity’.
If you’re interested in learning about the Wave 2 Wi-Fi standard in greater detail and how deploying it can make a difference, Ruckus is holding a free webinar this Thursday 7 May 2015 at 10am for which you can register here.
Devlin said that wireless is really challenging - sometimes you’ll get full signal in places like airports but no connectivity due to too much interference.
He said that Ruckus is all about building pervasive Wi-Fi networks that give you better flexibility, reliability and performance.
“We have this amazing antenna array which is what our whole product is built around that cuts interference, that cuts through interference. It’s an adaptive array which can steer a signal directly a device," said Devlin.
“Our antenna is like virtual radar dish that kind of zooms in on your device and steers our signal all our send and receive power is being sent in the direction that you’re at.
“And that’s something that only Ruckus does, Ruckus has patented a technology we call adaptive antenna.
“Typically that means for the same power that everyone else uses to send in all directions, we zoom in on a single device giving us better range and better interference mitigation. Fewer devices needed, in the world of radio, fewer device is better.”
He continued, stating: “Two technologies really stand out in Wave 2. We use multiple antennas and we have the ability to send and receive on those multiple antennas at the same time, effectively like multiplexing a signal. 802.11ac expands our ability to have multiple conversations.
“In the past, radio antennas could do up to 3 up, 3 down and 3 simultaneous conversations. 802.11ac expands on that, giving us 4 and 5 and beyond. Some devices have multiple antennas and can have multiple conversations with an access point at the same time so they can talk a lot faster.
“Laptops can have 2x2 and 3x3 antennas. That is called MIMO - multi-in and multi-out. That was part of Wave 1.
“Wave 2 brings MU-MIMO - multi-user MIMO. MIMO originally only worked on a single device at a single time. If you have a device that has 3 antennas, go you, you can have a really fast conversation. But MU-MIMO means multiple devices can be talking at the same time and it’s a huge advance when it comes to high density environments.
“MU-MIMO is really big. There are some other changes to amp up the speed, but MU-MIMO is the biggest one the market will see. We decided the market was ready and we saw the demand our customers and it was really important to be there first.
“The typical lifespan of an access point is 3 to 4 years, so it’s a good time to look at Wave 2 wi-fi access points.
“One of the biggest changes that’s going to happen in the next five years is the Internet of Things. It’s an explosion of sensorisation. Nothing has a wired connection any more. Each of my children has a phone, a tablet and a laptop. Tomorrow they’re going to have a wearable device, 5 or 6 connected devices in their rooms, even Wi-Fi controlled lightbulbs.”
Devlin expressed his thoughts about carrier Wi-Fi deployments such as Telstra’s Wi-Fi hotspots, and how they compared with the free Wi-Fi deployments being made by cities such as the City of Perth, and many others.
Devlin said: “It’s interesting the two business case models - very different. A lot of the municipalities that we deal with see public Wi-Fi as a utility. It’s a means to offer a service to their ratepayers, to visitors to the city. The type of service they want to offer is very different to what a carrier wants.
“As a municipality I might want to advertise public events, make public content available, maybe even use a way finding app and combine location services to show people around the city and help them find places to go.
“The other big happening for cities is this concept of smart cities taking over.
“In the past, when the city was doing the planning, they might sit a guy there with a little clicker and count footfall traffic as it goes through, the3y might have a strip of rubber on the road counting people.
“Wi-Fi gives us the ability to start to analyse people as they move around an environment as well. Most people are carrying a device that is Wi-Fi enabled, even without an active connection.
“An access point with a sufficiently powerful antenna can see people as they move around and allow, even though it’s anonymous data, that can allow a city to look at that data in aggregate and make decisions about where the best places to build a new footpath might be or whether there’s too much traffic at a given intersection, whether there’s congestion in a particular area. we’re even seeing cities deploying smart wi-fi access points in light poles.
“It’s a power source, they’re alway spaced at regular intervals. What a great way to do blanketed Wi-Fi coverage.
“So, when you compare that to what the carriers are looking to do, which is something very different, it’s very business focused. They’re looking to do a few different things.
“One is to bring people to their brand, so they want competitive mobile users to come onto their network, they’re looking for ways to connect people with their brand, track and add value to their network for their customers.
“They’re also considering ways to take take traffic away from traditional networks. If you’ve ever been to the football or something like that and tried to connect on your mobile phone on the regular carrier network when you’re uploading a Facebook photo of the try you just watcher or whatever it might be, when there’s 100,000 people on a single small cell, that’s very challenging.
“Wi-Fi is a great means to offload a lot of that traffic in a very cost effective manner. An LTE small cell is relatively expensive, a WI-Fi access point is relatively inexpensive.
“So in a stadium its a lot easier to promote blanket coverage for WI-Fi than it is to put loads and loads of extra small LTE cells inside the network”, said Devlin.
Here’s the video interview in full:
Finally, if you’re interested in learning about the Wave 2 Wi-Fi standard in greater detail and how deploying it can make a difference, Ruckus is holding a free webinar this Thursday 7 May 2015 at 10am for which you can register here.