Light Reading
New 802.11ac WiFi chips will include multi-user MIMO to support more devices, faster speeds, and more efficient use of unlicensed spectrum.

Qualcomm Advances WiFi With MIMO

Sarah Reedy
4/3/2014
50%
50%

Qualcomm is the latest company to advance WiFi networking capabilities by announcing its support for the emerging 802.11ac standard with multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) antenna technology in a range of chips for routers/gateways and end-user devices.

Commonly referred to as "Gigabit WiFi," 802.11ac is the latest WiFi standard, approved in January this year, and operates in the 5GHz frequency band. It has been developed to enable faster connections than the 802.11n standard, which is already widely deployed, and is seen as a way to deliver HD video over wireless connections.

With its 802.11ac portfolio, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) is borrowing a technology from the cellular world.

MIMO -- or multiple-input multiple-output -- involves the use of multiple transmitters and receivers to transfer more data simultaneously, thus accommodating more users at the same time. The introduction of MU-MIMO into the WiFi domain, which currently sends and receives data to only one device at a time, will enable access points (public, enterprise, or even in the home) handle more devices at once, doubling or even tripling their capacity, and optimizing the wireless connections. (See Holy HetNets! Its Super Macros & Massive MIMO and Ready or Not, Here Comes 5G.)

According to Todd Antes, VP of product management at Qualcomm's Atheros division, typical access points have to subdivide their capacity for each new device that wants to connect. With MU-MIMO, access points can compute and form up to three separate beams talking to three clients at the same time, so delivering much greater capacity to end users.

"For service providers that have WiFi hotspots in public areas or enterprises that have WiFi in-building, this is very compelling," Antes says of MU-MIMO. "This is the most important feature in [802.11]ac for them. It allows them, in their network with an existing set of frequencies, to serve more clients or serve the same number with better throughput, and it leverages the assets they have in a better way, so they can make more money."

MU-MIMO is one of several features from release 2 of the Wi-Fi Alliance 's standard specifications for 802.11ac. Qualcomm Atheros division has been testing versions of the MU-MIMO spec for seven years, Antes says, but it wanted to be able to officially announce it with an ecosystem of partners. (See Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certifying 802.11ac.)

That's because to take advantage of MU-MIMO, it has to be supported by devices and access points. For the most part, that will require new devices coming to market, but Antes says Qualcomm has been including MU-MIMO support in its devices with the Snapdragon 805 and 801 mobile processor, so that it will be able to turn it on with a software upgrade when needed.

At launch, Qualcomm's ecosystem includes chips for networking products (routers, gateways, and enterprise access points), smartphones, tablets, computers, consumer electronics, TVs, set-top boxes, and automobiles. Most will begin sampling in the second quarter. The chipmaker has also developed its own algorithms to manage the simultaneous connections, enabling WiFi networks to adapt on the fly to channel conditions, device movement, and application requirements.

This is only one of several WiFi advancements that have resulted in service providers taking the use of unlicensed spectrum a lot more seriously. Hotspot 2.0 developments are set to improve authentication on WiFi networks -- an important consideration if users are to be able to connect quickly and easily -- while, for its part, Qualcomm is also working on a technology to improve handoff, CnE, as well as a new innovation, LTE-U, that bonds WiFi with LTE for extra capacity bursts. (See Qualcomm Chips Away at Carrier Wi-Fi, Qualcomm Unveils WiFi Chip for Home Appliances, Jury Still Out on LTE-Unlicensed, Boingo Expands Hotspot 2.0 Trial to 23 Airports , and Hotspot 2.0 Makes Slow & Steady Progress.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
4/4/2014 | 9:20:15 AM
Re: Question
That is a good question, Colin. The way I understand it is they have somewhat different use cases. They both support high data rates, but 802.11ac was an evolution of the standard that will improve hotspot functionality (using beamforming to support larger areas), while 802.11ad was a completely new standard designed for ad-hoc short-range connectivity. But there could be compatibility issues and they do require new devices. I think that's one reason Qualcomm wanted to wait until it had a large ecosystem to announce with its launch, to show the support ac is getting and assure people it wouldn't fragment the industry more.
hlim431
50%
50%
hlim431,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/4/2014 | 8:37:12 AM
Re: Question
Good question Colin, especially as 802.11ad standards were released a year earlier than 802.11ac
colin19216811
50%
50%
colin19216811,
User Rank: Light Beer
4/4/2014 | 2:07:32 AM
Question
Hello Sarah, How do you think 802.11ad will affect the introduction of 802.11ac? Do you see businesses and consumers backing off both technologies until there is a clear winner. Could we have to wait sometime for the clear winner? Thank You. Colin
SarahReedy
50%
50%
SarahReedy,
User Rank: Blogger
4/3/2014 | 12:46:08 PM
interoperability
Qualcomm isn't the only chipmaker working on MU-MIMO. Quanntena, for one, already has a chip deployed in an Asus router. It's not clear whether devices from different vendors will interoperate (ie a Qualcomm-powered phone and that Asus router), but that's something the WiFi Alliance is working on testing. 
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Custom TV
Using Service Quality to Drive WiFi Monetization

10|22|14   |   6:51   |   (0) comments


Live from the SCTE conference: Heavy Reading's Alan Breznick explores the forces shaping the WiFi opportunity in an interview with CableLabs' Justin Colwell and Amdocs' Ken Roulier.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 2

10|21|14   |   8:51:00 AM   |   (0) comments


ARRIS CTO Network Solutions Tom Cloonan discusses why many if not most MSOs will continue with integrated CCAP, while addressing why some are also looking at two futuristic, distributed access architectures: Remote PHY and Remote CCAP.
LRTV Custom TV
Distributed Access Architectures – 1

10|21|14   |   9:01   |   (0) comments


SCTE Sr. Director of Engineering Dean Stoneback discusses the pros and cons of distributed access architecture (DAA) and its various forms, which range from basic Remote PHY to full CMTS functionality in the node.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 2

10|21|14   |   3:58   |   (0) comments


ARRIS Senior Solution Architect Eli Baruch talks about how MSOs can enable public and community WiFi through 1) outdoor access points, 2) businesses seeking to offer WiFi to customers, and 3) residential WiFi gateway extensions.
LRTV Custom TV
The WiFi Road to Riches – 1

10|21|14   |   10:15   |   (0) comments


SCTE Director of Advanced Technologies Steve Harris discusses WiFi deployments, drivers, challenges and advances, including 802.11ac, carrier-grade WiFi, community WiFi, Hotspot 2.0, Passpoint, WiFi-First and voice-over-WiFi.
LRTV Custom TV
Advantech Accelerates 100G Traffic Handling

10|17|14   |   7:56   |   (0) comments


Paul Stevens from Advantech explains why handling 100GbE needs a whole new platform design approach and how Advantech is addressing the needs of equipment providers and carriers to give them the flexibility and performance they will need for SDN and NFV deployment.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Holland's Imtech Traffic & Infra Discusses Huawei's ICT Solution and Services

10|16|14   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Dimitry Theebe is from the business unit at Imtech Traffic & Infra which delivers communications solutions for transportations. His partnershp with Huawei began about a years ago. In this video, Theebe speaks more about this partnership and what he hopes to accomplish with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Comprehensive Storage Solutions Vital for SVR

10|16|14   |   6:16   |   (0) comments


SVR Information Technology provides cloud services for academic and special sectors. With Huawei's support, SVR and Yildiz Technical University has established Turkey's largest and most advanced High Performance Computing system. CSO Ismail Cem Aslan talks about what he hopes Huawei's OceanStor storage system will bring for him.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Mexico's Servitron's Impression of Huawei at CCW 2014

10|16|14   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Servitron is a network operator in Mexico that has been in the trunking industry for the past 20 years. Its COO, Ing. Ragnar Trillo O., explains at Critical Communications World 2014 that his company has been interested in the long-term evolution of LTE technology and its adoption for TETRA.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Dubai

10|16|14   |   2:06   |   (0) comments


Abdulla Ahmed Al Falasi is the director of commercial affairs, a telecommunications coordinator for the government of Dubai. Their areas of service span across multiple industries, including police, safety, shopping malls and more. In this video, Abdulla talks about his department's work with Huawei.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Lights Up Malaysia Partner Maju Nusa

10|16|14   |   1:59   |   (0) comments


Malaysia's Maju Nusa is an enterprise partner to Huawei in networking, route switches and telco equipment. At this year's Critical Communications World in Singapore, CTO Pushpender Singh talks about what Huawei's eLTE solutions mean to his company and for Malaysia.
LRTV Custom TV
Evolving From HFC to FTTH Networks

10|15|14   |   2:19   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Todd McCrum delves into the future of cable's HFC plant, examining how DOCSIS 3.1 and advanced video compression will extend its life and how the IP video transition will usher in GPON and EPON over FTTH.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Google: Carriers & Cloud Providers Need to Cooperate
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/16/2014
Could Data Be the New 'Currency'?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 10/16/2014
iPad Air 2 Lets Users Switch Carriers Any Time
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 10/17/2014
CBS Takes OTT Plunge
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/16/2014
NYC Subway Wireless No Cure for Ebola Fears
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed