Evolution of Wi-Fi in the Internet of Things Era

By | December 30, 2017

The rise of Internet of Things, entry of new devices in the house, and ever increasing dependence on the internet, altogether creates a need for the evolution of Wi-Fi, and the internet provided by your ISP. Three goals every ISP should aim for: high data transfer, high capacity for simultaneous users, and good range.

History of Wi-Fi

Protocol Year Frequency (GHz) Number of channels Max data transfer (Mbps) Max Channel width (MHz)
802.11 1997 2.4 3 2 22
802.11a 1999 5 19 54 20
802.11b 1999 2.4 3 11 22
802.11g 2003 2.4 4 54 20
802.11n 2009 2.4 or 5 2 or 9 600 40
802.11ac 2014 5 5 6900 160
802.11ax 2017 2.4 or 5 5 9600 160


The table represents the raw data, and the raw data may differ a lot from the actual data. As we can observe in the table that there is only a modest increase in the data transfer rate in the planned IEEE 802.11ax standard, it is because it focuses more on four-fold increase in the actual data. The technology achieves it by assigning individual MIMO streams to every user.


Another great advancement is mesh Wi-Fi system which uses several nodes to work as a single network. Building a distributed Wi-Fi product is not just about the right Wi-Fi chip but it’s important to consider the Wi-Fi front end, amplifiers and filters between the chip and the antennas.

Obstacle in the way

Consider the road system. Freeways connect cities, major-through roads connect the neighborhoods, and small streets are there in every neighborhood. The system follows a hierarchy; small streets can’t connect two cities.

But in the case of today’s internet, the internet rides on high-speed interconnects of 100Gbps speed, exit lanes to the home is 100Mbps (there are 1Gbps fiber and 10Gbps DOCSIS 3.1 emerging), in the house there is a 1Gbps distributed Wi-Fi network or even a 10Gbps Ethernet cable, and the end node to the device is at something like 1Gbps. Where is the hierarchy?

We are using the freeways in the neighborhood and the narrow street connects the neighborhood to the internet.

Bring the balance

No Wi-Fi evolution would create a significant impact unless a hierarchy is established.

An average house might be using 1Gbps raw capacity, the challenge is to provide this much to the household. Emerging DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 promises to give up to 10Gbps raw data transfer rates and maybe that would make a difference.

The upcoming IEEE 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard will appear in distributed Wi-Fi systems, which is for the home. This is going to create the most benefit with aggregate traffic from multiple nodes and 4Gbps data transfer. End nodes would yet use IEEE 802.11ac as they are the right choice for some time.

And thus, the future looks clear with end node at 1Gbps, the house loop with 4Gbps, and the connection to the internet on 10Gbps with respective technologies.

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