Catalyst

CTS 177: Wi-Fi 6 with Fred Niehaus

This episode was recorded at the Podcast Domain for Cisco Live 2019 in San Diego. In attendance is Rowell Dionicio, François Vergès, Gurpreet Singh, and Fred Niehaus.

Fred has been with Cisco since 2000. Since 1993 Fred has been doing wireless. Gurpreet works for a VAR in Canada with all aspects of warehouses.

Cisco Live Photos by Rowell Dionicio. https://rowelldionicio.com/clusphotos

Wi-Fi 5 was all about very high throughput but had nothing to do with latency. Cellular buys frequencies for millions and millions of dollars and uses the spectrum efficiently.

Two main features of Wi-Fi 6 are:

  • OFDMA, borrowed from cellular, cuts latency down
  • BSS Coloring which allows for channel reuse

Fred says we’re ahead of 5G. What’s in 5G is available in Wi-Fi today

At the top of Fred’s Wi-Fi 6 list are OFDMA and BSS coloring. TWT for scheduling will be very beneficial to IoT devices.

OFDM vs OFDMA

  • Channel that’s 20 MHz size
  • If data is one little chunk it wastes the subcarriers
  • OFDMA takes multiple transmitters/receivers on each subcarrier for efficiency

The new Wi-Fi 6 access points from Cisco are:

  • C9117
  • C9115
  • C9120  

One thing to note, with the C9117 as an example, is that chipsets that were early to market did not support OFDMA in the uplink. Cisco went to Marvell and Cisco has asked for a custom chipset.

But to meet meet customers’ needs you can build your own chipset or look to another manufacturer.

Why would Cisco change the name to Catalyst? That’s because it is the best product line. Access points are redesigned to be smaller. 

Comparing Wi-Fi 6 to previous generation

  • 9115 and 9117 those are like 1850 and 1830 series. Early to market and standards-based.
  • 9120 is more like the 2800 series. Has the RF ASIC, a custom ASIC that is software defined. 

The RF ASIC can specifically create a signature for DFS signals. Potentially eliminated false positives with DFS hits. The benefit of the RF ASIC allows the other radios to service clients while using this 3rd radio. Unlike previous ASICs, the 9120 has the capability to transmit but it’s not configured to at the moment.

When do you think we will see the actual benefits of Wi-Fi 6? Let us know in the comments below.