News

Wi-Fi Alliances Announces Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6

Announced at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Wi-Fi Alliance announces a new certification program centered around 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 is expected to be released in the 3rd quarter of 2019.

In the announcement, Wi-Fi Alliance references the key capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 and how it will improve all Wi-Fi networks. It may be too early to tell which of the key features will be a requirement for Wi-Fi 6 certification.

The new Wi-Fi Alliance certification highlights the following 802.11ax capabilities:

  • Uplink and downlink OFDMA
  • MU-MIMO increased capability
  • Higher data rates
  • 1024-QAM
  • Target wake time (TWT)

802.11ax is not yet ratified. With the expected release of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6, should we expect IEEE to ratify 802.11ax October 2019?

Here’s a timeline grabbed from two locations. The first timeline came from the 802.11ax task group webpage:

As you can see, as of November 2018 there needs to be a Draft 4.0 review. The timeline hasn’t been updated since.

Here’s a WLPC 2017 presentation by Dr. Eldad Perahia showing a timeline:

It appears there may have been delays but we may get actual ratification closer to 2020.

FCC Proposed Rules for 1.2 GHz of Spectrum

The next evolution of Wi-Fi is one step closer to being reality. The FCC has proposed rules for 1200 megahertz of unlicensed frequency in 6 GHz band. The whole band we need to pay attention to is 5.925 – 7.125 GHz. Why make unlicensed frequency available? Unprecedented demand for it. FCC made unlicensed frequency available back in 1985. We will see this complementing 5G services. The growth of Wi-Fi has created a large demand in unlicensed frequency. But by opening up 6 GHz, the FCC is proposing some rules.

The rules are to support compatibility of unlicensed operation and licensed incumbent services.

Sub-bands are:

  • 5.925 – 6.425 GHz (coordination method AFC) (U-NII-5)
  • 6.425 – 6.525 GHz (lower powered indoor) (U-NII-6)
  • 6.525 – 6.875 GHz (coordination method AFC) (U-NII-7)
  • 6.875 – 7.125 GHz (lower powered indoor) (U-NII-8)

Why the coordination method?

6 GHz hosts many incumbent services such as fixed point-to-point services, fixed-satellite service, broadcast auxiliary service, and Cable Television Relay Service. Some of those services support public safety.

For the UNII 5 and 7 the power levels for will be similar to UNII 1 and 3.

Automated Frequency Control (AFC) would be a way for an AP to receive a list of channels it can operate in so it is to not interfere with incumbents. AFC System still needs to be ironed out. Will it be like CBRS? Problem would be identifying which channels are in use by incumbents in a specific area.

Even with rules in place, the amount of channels available for Wi-Fi increases. The amount of channels available:

59 x 20 MHz channels
29 x 40 MHz channels
14 x 80 MHz channels
7 x 160 MHz channels

Aruba Networks Presentation slide from CWNP WiFi Trek 2018

If you would like to read more about 6 GHz please check out the following documents:

FCC Proposes More Unlicensed Spectrum

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just proposed up to 1200 MHz of spectrum for Wi-Fi use by unlicensed devices. These devices would operate in the 6 GHz band, more specifically 5.925-7.125 GHz.

There are incumbent users of the frequency space but Wi-Fi devices utilizing that frequency, used by Broadcast Auxilary Service and Cable Television Relay Service, would only be used indoor at low power.

Having up to 1200 MHz available for Wi-Fi is great news! It provides more spectrum to a finite resource that we’re beginning to see in the 5 GHz spectrum. With 5 GHz, we are now seeing congestion. We’re limited with the amount of non-overlapping channels. And we’re unable to fully utilize 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel widths.

If Wi-Fi received 1200 MHz worth of spectrum, there would be 59 x 20 MHz channels to select from! Even at wider channels, there will be 14 x 80 MHz channels and 7 x 160 MHz channels.

The industry may be able to see the increase in throughput with more non-overlapping channels at the network operators disposal.

This is a big step forward in the right direction. Wi-Fi needs the frequency space for unlicensed devices and for the industry to innovate further.

From Aruba Networks' Chuck Lukaszewski WiFi Trek presentation

Aruba Networks CWNP WiFi Trek Conference – Chuck Lukaszewski

Security Improvements in Wi-Fi: An Ekahau Webinar

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining Joel and Jerry on an Ekahau webinar. The topic I presented was on Security Improvements in Wi-Fi.

In this webinar, I touch upon three different security improvements:

  • Device Provisioning Protocol
  • Opportunistic Wireless Encryption
  • WPA3

While I go over a general overview of the topics, OWE gets a little detailed because of the frame capture I was able to obtain from Aruba Networks’ live demo from MFD3.

Check out the webinar and let me know what you think in the comments:

Mist Strengthens Partnerships

Mist has been hard at work forming partnerships with strong players, Juniper Networks, VMware, and Palo Alto Networks. Working alongside technologies which don’t have a wireless play, Mist complements each of their solutions by utilizing their AI and Machine Learning product.

Initially, it looked like a strategy to be acquired but with multiple firm partnerships, it can be seen as a jab to the competition which has been acquiring WLAN companies as part of their portfolio.

Mist has extended their reach into a copious number of new potential customers who are in search of API-driven technology leveraging artificial intelligence.

By joining forces with Palo Alto Networks, both companies can take advantage of policy creation. Pushing security policies from the perimeter of the network once a threat is identified and pushing it down the network all the way to the edge where the user devices reside. Security can get a little more simple with consistent policies applied throughout the network.

Working with Juniper Networks, Mist helps provide visibility and insights into both wired and the wireless network. Again, artificial intelligence is looking to make IT teams become proactive when it comes to user experience. We’ve seen Juniper take a stab at wireless and let’s hope they’ve found their groove.

VMware has their infrastructure deep in a lot of data centers. The story remains the same. More visibility using artificial intelligence. VMware wants to know how users are interacting with applications over the WLAN.

With APIs, IT teams can now see what’s happening on both ends and be proactive in resolving issues that crop up.

The expansion of Mist into different areas of the network isn’t something we shouldn’t brush off. The API first mentality may give IT the innovation it needs to thrive. Whoever can develop the solutions to tie all these vendors together seamlessly can gain an immense upper-hand in this business landscape.