CTS 194: State of Wi-Fi 6 from WLPC

From the WLPC Prague presentation. We’ll go over our presentation and what we’ve found about Wi-Fi 6 from our testing.

You can watch our WLPC Prague presentation on YouTube from the WLAN Pros channel. It will include a live Wi-Fi 6 demo where we include the audience.

The demo consisted of 10 WLANpi running iPerf3 servers. We asked people in the audience to connect their Wi-Fi 6 devices to an Aerohive AP broadcasting Wi-Fi 6, of course. A Jetson Nano was used to capture frames.

The presentation slides can be found here.

Watch the presentation below:

Our process included:

  • Theory
  • Lab
  • Test

As of this recording, Wi-Fi 6 still remains in draft. It is not expected to become a standard until late 2020. Today, we are currently over the peak of inflated expectations.

At WLPC Prague, we asked the audience three questions:

  • Do you own a Wi-Fi 6 device?
  • Have you deployed a Wi-Fi 6 network?
  • Have you ever connected to a Wi-Fi 6 network that wasn’t yours?

Theory

To start learning about Wi-Fi 6, we had to start with the theory. That meant getting the source of all information regarding 802.11ax. There were other resources we used as well:

What about the Wi-Fi Alliance?

  • Marketing 802.11ax
  • Wi-Fi 6 certification
    • What makes a device Wi-Fi 6 certified?
  • How many are certified today?
  • Wi-Fi 6
    • Compatible
    • Certifiable
    • Certified

Equipment

We needed to get our hands on Wi-Fi 6 equipment. There very little devices available but we managed to get ahold of Wi-Fi 6 access points and two Wi-Fi 6 devices.

Knowing your chipsets can make or break your Wi-Fi 6 capabilities.

Our equipment included:

Wi-Fi 6 in Practice

How did we test Wi-Fi 6? Our goal was to test the various features of Wi-Fi 6. These were based on simplicity. Just to test functionality.

First, we wanted to see what was advertised. We used frame captures to identify feature support.

To capture Wi-Fi 6 frames you need a Wi-Fi 6 device that can demodulate the signal. We tried using Wi-Fi 6 APs but we were missing frames. We stuck to the Jetson Nano as it ran Ubuntu with an Intel AX200. It was more capable of capturing than a Cisco C9115.

We used iPerf 3 to test performance. We used a Sidekick to see if OFDMA was used but we were unsuccessful.

Wi-Fi 6 Party & Captures

  • OFDMA
  • Remote packet capture on Jetson Nano
  • WiFi Explorer Plugin
  • Cisco C9115AXI sniffer modes 

Data Rates

Are we able to acquire 1024 QAM? How likely are we to use higher MCS rates?

General Observations

  • Firmware is our limitation. 
  • 1024-QAM does work (only observed on 5GHz)
  • Range of 1024-QAM is not that great
    • Better with 4×4:4 APs
  • Generally higher data rates (mostly due to 1024-QAM)
    • Might not reflect in real-world deployments
  • More fluctuation in data rates
  • Wi-Fi 6 doesn’t mean OFDMA
  • Spectrum efficiency doesn’t seem to be at its best yet
  • Might need more power than PoE+

Join Clear To Send

Come join the Clear To Send community.

Powered by ConvertKit
About the Author
Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.