What is Max WiFi?

Max WiFi, also known as 802.11ax, is the latest evolution of Wi-Fi. Since standardization began a couple years ago, the tech world is abuzz about this sixth generation of Wi-Fi, which offers significant improvements in wireless speed, capacity, range, and efficiency—a major upgrade for connected homes, for businesses, and for anyone with a smartphone.

Bottom line: over the past 20 years, we seen significant upgrades in Wi-Fi speeds from generation to generation. But current consumer trends challenge even the fastest Wi-Fi because we expect our networks to handle more and more devices, transmitting at the same time. The most recent Wi-Fi generation, 802.11ac, functions well enough with five to eight connected devices per access point. But performance degrades, when additional devices are added. That’s a problem, especially since global demand for Wi-Fi has never been higher and it’s only set to rise.  

More than 15 billion Wi-Fi connected devices were shipped around the planet in 2016, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance, and IEEE anticipates that there will be 50 billion connected wireless devices by 2022. And Gartner estimates that an average family of four will have about 50 connected devices by then. Enter Max WiFi, which is built for capacity, not just speed.

“This next generation of Wi-Fi was engineered for the world we live in,” Network World’s Zeus Kerravala writes, “where everything is connected and there’s an assumption that upload and download traffic will be equivalent. Previous generations of Wi-Fi assumed more casual use and that there would be far more downloading of information than uploading.”

Broadcom’s newly-released Max WiFi chips for residential, enterprise, and smartphone use are designed to handle much more and to empower more creating and more sharing, thanks in large part to a complete redesign of the standard and the addition of orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and scheduling technologies like Target Wake Time (TWT).

OFDMA lets Max WiFi direct data traffic in a much more efficient way. Instead of using an entire channel to transmit data from one client device while the other client device’s data waits for “its turn,” Max WiFi schedules traffic so that each device’s data gets enough airtime and bandwidth to transmit concurrently.

And TWT adds even greater efficiency: “802.11ax [Max WiFi] takes this a step further,” IT Business Edge’s Carl Weinschenk writes, “with a new feature called wake time scheduling, which enables the client to go to sleep for short periods.” This has significant implications for battery life and overall energy efficiency—Max WiFi-enabled devices could have up to seven times longer battery life.

Max WiFi’s better usage of spectrum lets people use more devices faster—up to six times faster, in fact—because congestion is no longer a limiting factor. It also means that Max WiFi is the first Wi-Fi generation optimized for the way we communicate: real-time video.

Compared to devices using chips on the current Wi-Fi standard, devices using these ultra-efficient Max WiFi chips can have coverage up to four times better and battery life up to seven times longer. That means more Snapchats, more video chatting with the people you love, and more seamless livestreaming so that you can share content in the moment—no matter where you are. Max WiFi eliminates Wi-Fi dead zones and has you covered both inside and outside of the home.

Max WiFi technology has widespread potential for personal and business uses, and companies across several sectors are taking notice. “Broadcom is sampling Max WiFi chips to its early access partners in retail, enterprise and smartphone, service provider, and carrier segments,” writes Venture Beat’s Dean Takahashi. “Numerous companies, from D-Link to Microsoft, voiced support for 802.11ax.

Simply put, Max WiFi is the newest and best iteration of Wi-Fi to date. To learn more about this incredible technology, visit maxwifi.org.