Light Reading

Qualcomm Advances WiFi With MIMO

Sarah Thomas
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! It’s 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
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.