The Road to WiFi 6E Part 4: Device Density

Mon, 05/09/2022 - 12:48

This blog post is the fourth in a series of articles we’ll be presenting over the course of 2022 about WiFi 6 (and 6E) – the current and future top-of-the-line WiFi standards championed by the WiFi Alliance. We’ll be discussing the history of the evolving standard of WiFi, new features introduced in WiFi 6 and 6E, applications beyond the commonly known consumer use cases, and much more. Additionally, we’ll be releasing a companion series of video interviews with Laird Connectivity experts, which you can find here.

The Internet of Everything – Explosive Growth in WiFi Deployments

For many years, the world has moved steadfastly towards creating connectivity in every kind of device. The vision of the Internet of Things has resulted in wireless connectivity in connected medical monitors, robotics, vehicle telematics, access control, wireless sensors, and everything under the sun. This is enabled by adding wireless hardware to an increasing number of classes of devices – and those devices all need service from the wireless gateways that serve them, sometimes in incredibly congested environments.

In our last post, we briefly looked at the connected hospital room as an example. Just a single room in an ER bay can have dozens of devices, a challenge to service all by itself. But when you consider that hospitals are full of floors of rooms much like this, the scale of the challenge begins to take focus. In factories, healthcare facilities, sports arenas, travel terminals and more, the density of WiFi devices continues to increase at an exponential rate.

WiFi 6 and 6E have this problem in mind as they harmonize previous standards, introduce new means of organizing spectrum temporally and physically, and adopt new models for how to categorize and group client devices. And as we’ll explain, many of the mechanisms we’ve discussed in our previous blog posts on link rates and low latency are instrumental to supporting an incredibly RF-dense environment, via MU-MIMO, spatial streams, OFDMA, and (new to this series) BSS Coloring.