Wi-Fi Alliance launches expanded Wi-Fi Certified ac program for Wave 2 features

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Huawei Wireless, Cisco, Aruba, Broadcom and Quantenna are just a few of the companies throwing their support behind the next wave in Wi-Fi, appropriately called "Wave 2" features that more efficiently handle high-bandwidth applications.

The Wi-Fi Alliance this week announced its expanded W-Fi Certified ac to include new features that provide a better experience. The first Wi-Fi Certified ac products to support new features and which comprise the test bed for interoperability certification are the Broadcom BCM94790R4366AC; the Marvell Avastar A88W8964; MediaTek MT7615 AP Reference Design and MT6632 STA Reference Design; Qualcomm IPQ8065 802.11ac 4-stream Dual-band, Dual-concurrent router; and the Quantenna QSR1000 4x4 802.11ac Wave 2 Chipset Family.

The new features in 802.11ac Wave 2 should provide operators and their end users with big improvements in the user experience. One of the most talked about features – multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) – allows more devices to operate simultaneously on the same network. The ability for a single access point to send data to two, three or four client devices simultaneously is significant, according to Kevin Robinson, director of marketing for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Other newly introduced features include 160 GHz channels, which doubles the speed from the previously supported 80 MHz channels, and expanded spatial streams, going from three spatial streams to four spatial streams, he said.  

Extended 5 GHz channel support is another new feature, Robinson added. Wi-Fi Certified ac encourages device support for a greater number of available channels in 5 GHz.

The full set of new features are capable of achieving up to three times the speed of devices supporting the original Wi-Fi Certified ac features.

Typically, you'll see a number of devices or silicon support for these features ahead of Wi-Fi Alliance certification, but the introduction of a Wi-Fi Certification program should spur more mass market adoption of these features.  

Qualcomm is a big proponent of 802.11ac Wave 2, having shipped products since early last year to the standard and it's been talking about MU-MIMO for the past 12-18 months. "Right now, we have over 100 commercial devices in the market that have 802.11ac Wave 2 in it, and so we're very excited that the Wi-Fi Alliance certification is ready now," said Mark Grodzinsky, senior director, product management, at Qualcomm. "That can only help drive an even larger uptick in the market that we're already seeing."

While some customers launched products early, the Wi-Fi Alliance certification is a prerequisite for many customers, he told FierceWirelessTech. Products already out there shipping in the market run the gamut from retail access points and carrier gateways to enterprise access points, PCs, tablets and mobile phones.  

Interestingly, despite Qualcomm's more recent run-ins with the Wi-Fi Alliance over LTE-U, Qualcomm has received the "Outstanding Leadership & Contribution Award" from the Wi-Fi Alliance four of the last five years. (The 2015 award was announced early this year.) Qualcomm has been active in the alliance since its inception, and "there's more things that we work together on and agree on than we don't. It doesn't mean we're going to agree on every topic, but when it comes to leadership in the Wi-Fi space … you'll find Qualcomm actively participating and leading many of the efforts," he said.

The alliance runs more than a dozen labs globally for interoperability testing.

For more:
- see the press release

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