OnQ Blog

11ax-ready: Solving today’s real-world challenges for our customers with high-impact technology breakthroughs

Jun 6, 2018

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

When talking Wi-Fi connectivity, your experience will be impacted by the technology on both ends of your connection — the device and network. Through the years, as we’ve progressed from our beloved PDAs to our power-packed superphones, Wi-Fi technology has progressed to keep pace with the increasing data demands. Whereas Wi-Fi was historically focused on delivering maximum speed through the proverbial pipe to a single device, a new focus emerged with the introduction of wave 2 of 802.11ac Wi-Fi. 11ac Wi-Fi (with MU-MIMO multitasking capabilities) shifted the emphasis to increasing network capacity as the means to meet the demands of the modern network.

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Now, the introduction of 802.11ax super-charges this trend. We’ve profiled the fundamentals before, including how 11ax access points (APs) is engineered to deliver performance improvements even in an 11ac/n-rich world, but as we begin to see 11ax-based access points in the wild, let’s dive deeper into what sets our solutions apart when 11ax technology is on both ends of the connection.

We introduced WCN3998 — the industry’s first integrated 11ax-ready solution for smartphones, tablets, and notebooks at this year’s Mobile World Congress. What sets WCN3998 apart is how it goes well beyond baseline requirements for 11ax, engineered to deliver advanced features like 8-stream sounding, Target Wakeup Time (TWT), WPA3 Security, and Advanced Audio support. Let’s dive into these key features in detail:

8-stream sounding deliver more, faster

One of the defining features of our 11ax solutions, both on mobile/computing devices and access points, is support for 8-stream MU-MIMO sounding. 8-stream MU-MIMO, on its own, is designed to allow the AP to simultaneously serve twice the data to many more devices than a 4-stream 11ac device. However, for devices to realize the expected gains in performance, they must be able to identify the 8-stream configuration in the AP through a process called sounding. If the client device only supports 4-stream sounding, the full potential of the 8-stream AP is dramatically reduced. Visualized below, an 8-stream AP can simultaneously support up to twice the overall devices (and their associated throughput) when the devices themselves necessarily support 8-stream sounding:

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Target Wake Time extends battery life

For mobile devices, battery life is a make or break feature. Our WCN3998 supports a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT). TWT allows an AP to schedule power naps between wake-up periods when the mobile device checks for data, as shown below. TWT can reduce Wi-Fi power consumption by up to one third. A competing solution lacking TWT will attempt to connect to a network without pause, searching, consuming precious power all the while, for data — even when there is nothing to download or upload.

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Premium wireless audio

While wireless audio capabilities may not directly relate to the 11ax technology features of WCN3998, we would be remiss not to highlight the importance of key integrated features, such as Bluetooth 5 (BT 5)and Qualcomm TrueWireless, that are setting the bar for mobile audio experiences. In a world where wireless ear buds challenge battery efficiency and demand extended range, WCN3998 support for BT 5 and Qualcomm TrueWireless are engineered to support up to 2x the range of legacy products and up to 75 percent battery life improvement, while still delivering amazing audiophile quality improvements.

Cutting edge security-rich connected experiences

With reporting around the recent KRACK vulnerability bypassing WPA2 security, Qualcomm Technologies is showing its industry leadership by announcing support for WPA3 broadly across Wi-Fi mobile (e.g. WCN3998) and networking infrastructure (e.g. IPQ807x) portfolios. WPA3 is a major leap forward that aims to provide robust security for next generation devices and will be a mandatory feature for 11ax platforms moving forward.

So, as this new wave of Wi-Fi technology called 11ax begins to percolate into the collective consciousness, remember that devices based on our WCN3998 are aligned to the promise of 11ax. They feature 8-stream sounding capabilities, helping ensure full utilization of 11ax capacity, they support TWT to support extended battery life, and they feature premium audio and security features, as well.

Since our OEM customers are sampling now, consumers will soon be able to judge for themselves. And as 11ax mobile becomes mainstream, 11ax-based AP solutions are ready to deliver so that 11ax experiences can reach their full potential.

Please stay tuned as we progress toward standard certification. and check back for. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates on exciting new product launches featuring our 11ax portfolio.

WCN3998, IPQ807x, and Qualcomm TrueWireless are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or their subsidiaries.

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Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Tim McCarthy

Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc.

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