Qualcomm claims first in offering end-to-end 802.11ax portfolio

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One feature of the IPQ8074 SoC for network infrastructure is Qualcomm's Wi-Fi Self-Organizing Network (SON).

Here’s one answer to crowded Wi-Fi spectrum. Qualcomm Technologies is offering an end-to-end 802.11ax portfolio, supplying the IPQ8074 system-on-a-chip (SoC) for network infrastructure and QCA6290 solution for client devices, making Qualcomm the first company to announce end-to-end commercial solutions to support 802.11ax.

The solutions really drive toward addressing the capacity crunch--delivering up to four times greater capacity. “CAPACITY – not peak speed – has become the most important measure of a network’s ability to handle the ever-increasing demands of today’s diverse mix of application and services,” said Rahul Patel, senior vice president & general manager, connectivity at Qualcomm Technologies, in a press release.

Qualcomm’s 802.11ax solutions support 12-streams (eight 5 GHz and four 2.4 GHz), 8x8 MU-MIMO, 80 MHz channels and other features to maximize capacity and coverage. The benefits of the features will be greatest for 11ax-based devices, but Qualcomm says it designed its solutions to improve the performance of all devices, including ones that use previous iterations, 802.11ac and 802.11n technologies.

“What’s inside this product is actually the world’s first highly integrated product with 11ax,” Gopi Sirineni, VP of Product Management for Qualcomm, told FierceWirelessTech.

Features of the IPQ8074 include Qualcomm Wi-Fi Self-Organizing Network (SON), which simplifies installation, optimizes traffic and reduces dead spots, offering features to reduce interference in dense areas with many overlapping Wi-Fi access points.

On the client side, Sirineni said the solution promises to provide the highest throughput on the market at this point, providing up to 1.8 Gbps at its peak, and it supports 8x8 sounding, providing the benefits of 8x8 MIMO. It uses 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.

It also includes the 11ax standard features such as Target Wakeup Time. Traditionally, Wi-Fi listens all the time to know when data is being transmitted but with a wake-up feature, it can go to sleep when it’s not transmitting and therefore save on the battery.

That’s one way in which Wi-Fi is starting to look a lot more like cellular. Qualcomm’s latest solutions use techniques from the cellular world, such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and traffic scheduling, which is designed to provide greater efficiency, higher user throughput and a more consistent performance. Using this kind of managed approach, along with optimization of wake-up time, can reduce Wi-Fi power consumption by two-thirds to extend battery life without affecting performance, according to the company.

Qualcomm is already getting traction in the market, with executives from Netgear and Cisco offering quotes about their interest in the 802.11ax technology.

“Wi-Fi is now an essential element of every corporate, education, service provider and public network. IT executives are reporting their biggest challenges are capacity and scalability, given the enormous growth of users,” Anand Oswal, senior vice president, enterprise networking group at Cisco, said in the release. “As industry leaders, we are driving innovations that address our customers concerns, and we view 802.11ax as the culmination of key advancements that will cement the future of enterprise mobility.”

Interestingly, Qualcomm was a big proponent of introducing LTE into unlicensed spectrum with LTE-U technology, which was the subject of much debate last year as the Wi-Fi community saw it as a threat, potentially bullying Wi-Fi out of its spectrum in a way. Qualcomm engineers insisted the presence of LTE-U actually makes Wi-Fi work better. Ultimately, the Wi-Fi Alliance developed a test plan that, while it wasn’t the favored outcome of many, it was a compromise the industry agreed to use.