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Industry-Leading Wi-Fi 6: New Engine for Enterprise Digital Transformation

By Dr. Li Xing, President of Campus Network Domain, Data Communication Product Line, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Wi-Fi, with a history of more than 20 years, has always been driven by the pursuit for ever higher bandwidth. In fact, there have been major upgrades to Wi-Fi almost every four to five years, with bandwidth increasing each time. The latest standard, Wi-Fi 6, is a game changer for enterprises. By introducing new technologies, such as uplink/downlink (UL/DL) 8x8 Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO), Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), and 1024-state Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (1024-QAM), Wi-Fi 6 delivers a four-fold increase in throughput and user access capacity while reducing latency by 50 percent compared with Wi-Fi 5. With these vastly improved capabilities, Wi-Fi 6 opens up opportunities for enterprises to replace wired networks with wireless ones. Going wireless frees employees from the constraints of cables, allowing them to work and communicate anywhere and anytime. Meanwhile, all-wireless accelerates the sharing of innovative ideas, improves production and operational efficiency, and strengthens overall competitiveness. However, pursuing a fully wireless campus in the Wi-Fi 6 era requires more than just high bandwidths and large capacities. There is also a need for stable, continuous signal coverage, low-latency service assurance, and lossless roaming to deliver fiber-like speeds and performance that is on par with wired networks.

Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 Helps Enterprise Digital Transformation

16 spatial streams, 10.75 Gbit/s speeds, twice the industry average throughput

Throughput is the biggest difference between Wi-Fi 6 and previous Wi-Fi generations, but not all Wi-Fi 6 products can deliver ultra-high throughput. The number of spatial streams and the effective operating frequency bandwidth are the key factors that determine throughput. Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 boasts the industry’s largest number of spatial streams, 16 in total, and supports the industry’s widest 160 MHz channels on 5 GHz, delivering air-interface throughput of up to 10.75 Gbit/s, twice that of the Wi-Fi 6 standard.

Built-in Smart Antennas at dual bands ensure stable network coverage without blind spots.

Radio frequency and antenna are the key factors that affect the performance of Wi-Fi products. Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 APs feature 16 Smart Antennas — the most in the industry — and a unique dual-band dual-polarized co-planar antenna design, with Artificial Magnetic Conductor (AMC) antenna materials. Additionally, Smart Antennas are supported on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz without increasing the size of the AP. Performance is further enhanced by Huawei’s unique four-element electronic switchgear and dynamic coverage direction adjustment algorithms, as well as beamforming technology. Packed with all these features, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 APs enable signals to move with users, double signal strength at the same location, and increase coverage distance by 20 percent.

Unique SmartRadio lossless roaming technology ensures stable roaming with zero packet loss.

Roaming on a Wi-Fi network is different from that on a cellular mobile network, because roaming is initiated by a terminal (sometimes referred to as a station or STA). Specifically, the terminal usually triggers roaming by detecting an idle channel and the signal quality based on a carrier sense technology called Clear Channel Assessment (CCA). As a result, Wi-Fi terminals always scan for an idle channel before roaming, which takes up more than 80 percent of the handover time. A long roaming handover time causes an increase in the packet loss rate, which, in turn, adversely impacts services sensitive to in-roaming packet loss, such as voice and production network instruction delivery.

Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 tailors to customers’ actual service requirements and applies the roaming processing algorithms and practices on cellular mobile networks. Specifically, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 APs identify and notify terminals of available idle channels before roaming. In this way, terminals do not need to scan all channels during roaming, greatly reducing the roaming handover time. When Huawei devices are used, the roaming handover time is reduced to as low as 10 ms, ensuring no interruptions for mobile voice calls. In addition, Huawei has set up a “connectivity” alliance with partners, where multiple types of mobile terminals deliver optimal mobile experiences with low roaming handover latency and uninterrupted services.

When it comes to Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) terminals in industrial production, Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 uses a device-pipe synergy mechanism to proactively steer AGV roaming and back up service data during roaming handovers. The data is then sent back to the AGVs after successful roaming handovers, eliminating packet loss. Such design ensures the stable running of AGVs without interruptions, improving efficiency by more than 40 percent.

Unique SmartRadio Dynamic Turbo technology delivers 10 ms ultra-low latency for application experience assurance, improving stability for applications.

Wi-Fi 6 uses OFDMA technology to concurrently transmit different services of different users over more subcarriers. This approach greatly reduces the transmission latency for a vastly superior experience. However, there are no technical specifications for the classification of different services, and subcarrier allocation is random. Consequently, some key users and latency-sensitive services still encounter delayed data transmission issues caused by untimely scheduling or insufficient subcarrier allocation, affecting the service experience. For example, high latency may cause users to feel dizzy after prolonged usage of real-time interactive services such as wireless Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

To tackle this issue, Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 is looking beyond OFDMA technology. For example, a hardware-based multi-queue mechanism efficiently groups users, while air-interface slicing technology slices wireless air interface resources based on service requirements. With these innovations, Hierarchical QoS (HQoS) assurance for data forwarding and scheduling as well as air-interface resource scheduling is achieved, slashing the latency for key services to as low as 10 ms, 50 percent lower than that of the Wi-Fi 6 standard.

Wi-Fi 6: Wait and See or Act Today?

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 transforms enterprise offices, improves collaboration, and accelerates innovations.

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 uses industry-leading Smart Antenna technology to enable wireless signals to move with users. At the edge of a Wi-Fi network, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 automatically enhances signals and suppresses interference based on user locations, improving user experience.

In dense environments, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 flexibly adjusts the coverage direction based on the number of access terminals to ensure consistent signal quality for users. Unique to Huawei CSON continuous networking technology, enabling applications on wireless networks to be as stable as those on wired networks, and delivering speeds comparable to optical fiber networks. In this way, enterprises are one step closer to going all-wireless for their campus networks.

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 has the power to transform the way enterprises work. Traditional office cubicles that rely on phones and emails for communication may be disrupted with new ways to communicate and collaborate, such as real-time mobile HD videos and wireless multi-screen interactions in meetings, improving work efficiency and driving innovation.

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 transforms the teaching experience and improves students’ learning interests.

According to the joint research from Stanford University and a Danish university, students’ learning outcomes are improved by 76 percent after wireless VR/AR is introduced to the curriculum. And with the ability to create virtual anatomy labs, wireless VR/AR is revolutionizing the medical teaching field. For instance, training for medical professionals is often hindered by the limited number of donated bodies, which can’t be reused. Additionally, the traditional methods to teach anatomy based on 2D contents, where students have to rely on their imagination for graphs and organ structures, have become dated. None of these problems exist in virtual anatomy labs.

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 delivers a wireless throughput of over 10 Gbit/s, fully meeting the requirements for various bandwidth-hungry services. By introducing one-of-a-kind Software-Defined Radio (SDR) technology, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 allows 50 percent more concurrent users without compromising bandwidth per terminal. On top of that, unique SmartRadio Dynamic Turbo technology reduces the latency for wireless AR/VR services of multiple users to as low as 10 ms — only half the industry average — so users don’t feel dizzy after prolonged use. By making VR/AR a reality in the classrooms, students can have a more immersive learning experience, enriching teacher-student interactions, and inspiring greater engagement in learning.

AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 transforms production and manufacturing for higher operational efficiency.

Continuous and stable running of the production line is paramount in production and manufacturing scenarios. AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 uses industry-unique SmartRadio lossless roaming technology to ensure production services are uninterrupted. For example, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) operate consistently 24/7, even in large-scale high-speed scenarios such as material feeding at logistics and production lines.

With a throughput of over 10 Gbit/s, AirEngine Wi-Fi 6 enables employees to cost-effectively participate in simulation training sessions online in real time through VR. Elsewhere, technicians can implement repairs at any time through AR and call remote experts to provide guidance in real time when needed, making repairs faster, more accurate, and more efficient. With the help of AirEngine Wi-Fi 6, production components can be detected by using ultra-HD cameras in real time, improving the efficiency and accuracy by dozens of times.

With all these capabilities, industrial production is becoming less labor-intensive as automation increases. Meanwhile, the production process is transforming from one that is characterized by rigidity to one with flexibility and resilience. These changes greatly reduce production costs, while doubling efficiency, and enhancing competitiveness.

Act Today for More Productive Tomorrow

Wi-Fi 6 is bringing substantial changes to enterprises’ ongoing digital transformation. Compared to previous Wi-Fi generations, Wi-Fi 6 delivers unprecedented levels of throughput and capacity needed for an optimal user experience and superb service stability.

Huawei is leading the Wi-Fi 6 standard as well as the Wi-Fi 6 market. Armed with Huawei’s exclusive cutting-edge technologies, Huawei Wi-Fi 6 products are well-received by enterprise customers and take the largest market share in the industry.

High-quality fully wireless campus networks built using Wi-Fi 6 can truly help enterprises accelerate digital transformation in their offices, production lines, and services, with improved efficiency and experience. In the future, we will continue to carry out joint innovations with customers and capitalize on Wi-Fi 6 upgrade opportunities to build fully connected, intent-driven campus networks with AirEngine Wi-Fi 6. With this network, enterprises can reduce operating costs, improve competitiveness, and enter the fully wireless campus era.

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