Talking Max WiFi: Phil Solis of SAR Insight

The tech world is abuzz about the latest standard of Wi-Fi: Max WiFi, also known as 802.11ax, is a breakthrough technology that provides users with capacity on their mobile devices. Phil Solis of SAR Insight recently wrote a compelling two-part series: “Why 802.11ax Will Maintain Wi-Fi’s Relevance” explaining how Max WiFi technology continues to keep Wi-Fi at the forefront of how we approach our increasingly connected world.

In Part One, Solis lists some of Max Wi-Fi’s most exciting features: dual-band, uplink MU-MIMO, self-optimizing network functionality, OFDMA and scheduling. Each of these features makes Max WiFi a highly-efficient, blazing fast force to be reckoned with—up to six times faster than the current 802.11ac standard can handle, with more devices at six times the range.

Solis also covers some of the implications of Max WiFi’s use of OFDMA technology, which he describes as “the single most important new feature of 802.11ax.” With OFDMA, Solis writes, “Wi-Fi becomes a much more robust and reliable solution, even in crowded urban areas for consumers, dense enterprise environments, or other industrial settings,” as well as in the context of small cells. Max WiFi’s unprecedented efficiency means that it can handle high-density environments with ease, with several devices simultaneously accessing the same access point on the same network.

In Part Two, Solis outlines how Max WiFi will “be very relevant in the IoT realm,” especially with its use of Target Wake Time (TWT) and flexible channel sizes. Max WiFi’s TWT saves battery power for your smart home devices by only “waking up” each device when it is needed. In fact, with Max WiFi your devices’ battery life can last up to seven times longer. The flexible channel sizes help data transmit even more efficiently, allowing your many devices to send and receive more data, more efficiently and much faster.

“With 802.11ax chips configured as 1X1 with less processing power,” Solis writes, “the market can create smaller, lower cost Wi-Fi chips for IoT that work in the two most popular bands for Wi-Fi and will be compatible with the massive wave of 802.11ax access points to come…Whether it is the typical end-user product space or the IoT, 802.11ax is keeping Wi-Fi relevant.”

We certainly agree. For more about Max WiFi and Broadcom’s set of Max WiFi chips, visit maxwifi.org.

*Phil Solis is the Director of Wireless and Mobile Connectivity at SAR Insight & Consulting, covering Wi-Fi, WiGig, Bluetooth, ZigBee, NFC, and GNSS, 5G and LPWAN.

Phil has been tracking, analyzing and commenting on technology markets for over 14 years. He is the most well-recognized and sought-after industry analyst around Wi-Fi. He also wrote the industry’s first in-depth 5G report over three years ago when few people knew what 5G would look like. In the past, Phil has covered a diverse array of topics outside of connectivity, from application processors to robotics.

Mid-Band Unlicensed Spectrum and Max WiFi

When we talk about Wi-Fi development, there’s essentially two sides of the story: the technical evolutions—and revolutions, like the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ax Max WiFi—and the airwaves that Wi-Fi uses to transmit data.

Demand for Wi-Fi is immense—and increasing. 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. Gartner even estimates that an average family of four will have about 50 connected devices by then. Max WiFi, which is built for capacity and not just speed, is designed to help manage all of that data.

However, the FCC can also give Wi-Fi a boost by expanding the amount of available unlicensed spectrum. If Max WiFi is a highly efficient new race car, you can think about spectrum as the number of lanes on a highway. Upgrading to an incredible vehicle is great, but it’s even better when there are sufficient high-speed lanes for all of us to drive on. We need more fast lanes—more spectrum—to make the best use of Wi-Fi technologies like Max WiFi, which can operate on up to 160 MHz channels.

A broad range of technology companies — from major semiconductor companies to mobile operating system vendors to content providers to enterprise Wi-Fi vendors, including Broadcom — agree. We’re committed to Wi-Fi and the future of technologies like Max WiFi, so we’re stepping up and asking the FCC to allow Wi-Fi to expand to a new frequency range of unlicensed spectrum.

For more on Wi-Fi and Max WiFi technology, visit maxwifi.org.

The Sharing Economy Goes Invisible with Wi-Fi

From Zipcar to AirBnB, the sharing economy has made us all look at cars, apartments and even clothes a little differently. And recently, that’s expanded to Wi-Fi.

With the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones, Samsung introduced the Wi-Fi sharing feature. This new Wi-Fi sharing feature helps to extend the Wi-Fi coverage area by making the Galaxy S7 or the S7 Edge as a Wi-Fi extender (or repeater). And the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus also included the same Wi-Fi sharing feature.

This is not a mobile hotspot. Rather, with Wi-Fi sharing, users can turn their mobile devices into Wi-Fi range extenders or repeaters. This extends the coverage of a particular Wi-Fi router, but also comes in handy when the number of connections on a particular Wi-Fi is limited. Great news if you’ve paid for the upgraded, faster Wi-Fi in a hotel or airport and want to share amongst your many devices.

Max WiFi could give this feature a further boost, literally. With the technical changes in the 6th generation of Wi-Fi, access points can handle many more devices at ever-increasing speeds. And these improvements also mean less battery drain from using—and sharing—Wi-Fi. As consumers, this looks like a very positive development and we can’t wait to see what other phone manufacturers have up their sleeves.

Max WiFi at The Wi-Fi Summit

This week, the WifiForward coalition brought policy makers and wireless industry leaders and insiders together in Washington, D.C. for The Wi-Fi Summit. Panelists discussed spectrum issues and policy, both as they are today and into the future. One prevalent topic in their discussion of the wireless future: the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ax, also known as Max WiFi.

“I’m going to talk about some of the most exciting things we’re working on, including 802.11ax,” said Broadcom Director of Wireless Connectivity Business and panelist Gabriel Desjardins. He described the the improvements that Max WiFi brings to the Wi-Fi including twice as much bandwidth, blazing fast speeds — up to four times better range — and up to seven times longer battery life.

Desjardins told attendees that with Max WiFi, the name of the game is capacity: “802.11ax Max WiFi has a massive improvement in spectrum efficiency, management, and better throughput, but ultimately it’s really all about an improvement in capacity.”

“Previous Wi-Fi generations have had trouble keeping up with all the data we use, but 802.11ax aims to change that. It has significant increases in capacity—not just in venues, but also in the office and in the home,” he said, adding, “You will see improvements in Wi-Fi [with the Max WiFi standard, especially] in the places where most of us use Wi-Fi and cellular and can’t necessarily get the data access that we need, that’s where 802.11ax Max WiFi will go. It will solve all of those connectivity problems for users.”

Lucky for us, Desjardins also hinted that it won’t be long until we can see this breakthrough Wi-Fi standard in action: “Tons of demos are going to show up at CES, and products will be on the shelves in the Spring.”

For more about Max WiFi and Broadcom’s set of Max WiFi chips, visit maxwifi.org.