Perhaps many people have not noticed that there is a small number “6” in the lower right corner of the Wi-Fi icon on your mobile phone. It is this small change that brings a more stable and smooth user experience to mobile applications, and It represents the continuous breakthrough of Wi-Fi, a wireless communication technology. Among them, the 2×2 multi-channel Wi-Fi 6, which provides a better detailed experience, has brought opportunities for rapid development to the industry chain.
One day in June 1971, when the United States had not yet approved the radio frequency band for computer network communications, the experimental computer network system ALOHAnet developed by the University of Hawaii in the United States had successfully connected various islands in Hawaii using the UHF wireless packet network. Since then, the ALOHA protocol has become the theoretical basis of many wireless communications, and is also regarded as the forerunner of the IEEE 802.11 protocol. After more than 20 years of development, the IEEE 802.11 wireless network standard was officially promulgated in 1997, allowing wireless network products of many manufacturers to communicate with each other.
Today, the 802.11 standard has also developed protocols with suffixes such as “a”, “b”, “g”, “n”, and “ac”, but this counter-intuitive naming method has always been reserved. Be criticized. Until October 4, 2018, the Wi-Fi Alliance officially announced that the next-generation Wi-Fi technology 802.11ax will be renamed Wi-Fi 6, and the previous two generations of technology 802.11n and 802.11ac will be renamed Wi-Fi respectively. 4 and Wi-Fi 5.
Looking back at the development history of the Wi-Fi standard, it is not difficult to find that the data transmission rate has changed the most in several generations of Wi-Fi standards: the highest rate of Wi-Fi 6 has reached 9.6Gbps, compared with the theoretical rate of Wi-Fi 5 6.9Gbps has increased by more than 40%, and it is nearly fifty times faster than the 2Mbps stipulated when the 802.11 protocol was first launched in 1997. Different standards have been achieving higher transmission rates through better modulation methods and larger bandwidths, which are more in line with the most basic needs of users for wireless communication.
However, with the increase in the types of terminal devices and the increase in actual use scenarios, users’ requirements for wireless communication are also changing. In scenarios such as instant messaging and playing games, low latency is more important, and the requirements for bandwidth may not be high. In scenarios such as watching ultra-high-definition video, high bandwidth is more required, but it is not sensitive to low latency. Because of these diverse requirements, when formulating wireless network standards and designing wireless networks, it is necessary to comprehensively consider requirements and scenarios. The launch of Wi-Fi 6 not only represents changes in naming rules, but also means that other It brings new features that are different from the previous generations of wireless communication standards, in order to truly bring a good experience to users.
For example, in the past, when a mobile phone was connected to Wi-Fi, it was commonplace to experience stuttering and poor wall-penetration capabilities, but with Wi-Fi 6, especially 2×2 Wi-Fi 6, with its excellent connection The ability brings users high speed, low latency and effective improvement in coverage.
Put user experience first, no longer simply seeking “fast”
The early generations of Wi-Fi protocols did not have specific technical advantages in different scenarios, while Wi-Fi 6 has made a lot of improvements and optimizations for scenarios with different requirements such as multiple concurrency and short messages, which can greatly improve consumer wireless experience. Even compared with the Wi-Fi 5 standard of the previous generation, Wi-Fi 6 has also made various technical improvements and optimizations in terms of modulation, coding, and multi-user concurrency. Pay more attention to the overall optimization of application, user experience, wireless environment and other factors.
For Wi-Fi 6, the core of its performance improvement is the introduction of a number of new technologies, specifically the following three:
MU-MIMO (multi-user-multiple input and multiple output) solves the problem that Wi-Fi can only communicate with one terminal at a time, significantly improves the total throughput and capacity of the network, and greatly improves the speed of Internet access. Although Wi-Fi 5 also uses MU-MIMO technology in the downlink, Wi-Fi 6 supports uplink and downlink at the same time, supporting up to 8 terminal devices to transmit more data uplink/downlink, which is twice that of Wi-Fi 5
OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Multiple Access) divides the wireless channel into multiple sub-channels to form frequency resource blocks, which ensures that multiple terminals can transmit in parallel at the same time without queuing up and competing with each other, thereby improving data transmission efficiency while reducing Latency and network congestion problems are alleviated
TWT (Target Wakeup Technology) reduces radio frequency working time, optimizes network resources, and can effectively reduce power consumption of terminal equipment
With the optimization of these new technologies, devices that support Wi-Fi 6 have a new experience that is different from the past, and Wi-Fi 6 is gradually adopted by manufacturers. As early as 2017, Qualcomm launched the first Wi-Fi 6 network solution in the world. At the Xiaomi press conference in 2020, Lei Jun even claimed that compared with Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 is “a cross-generational solution”. progress”.
For wireless communications such as Wi-Fi, there are three main ways to improve performance, including spreading the spectrum, adding antennas, or improving coding efficiency. Wi-Fi 6 has brought about changes in spectrum and coding methods, and antennas are no exception.
In the early 1×1 Wi-Fi, only one antenna is used for transmission and reception, and the amount of data that can be carried has already reached the bottleneck. In 2×2 Wi-Fi 6, two antennas can work at the same time, which is equivalent to “single lane” ” has become a “two-way two-way lane”, which not only reduces the occurrence of congestion in data transmission, but also expands the coverage of the signal, which can bring a stable and smooth user experience. Because of this, almost all mainstream mobile phone manufacturers now support Wi-Fi 6 from flagship phones to terminal phones, and even thousand yuan phones. If both the phone and router support Wi-Fi 6, and the phone can also support 2×2 Wi-Fi If you use Fi 6, you will get a better experience.
The experience is not inferior to 5G, and the Wi-Fi market is still broad
For a long time, mobile communication and wireless communication have been competing with each other, and the two compete in different indoor and outdoor scenarios. However, with the advent of the 5G era, its high speed comparable to Wi-Fi and wider scene coverage than Wi-Fi endanger the status of Wi-Fi to some extent. A large number of small base stations will be deployed indoors, which is likely to further seize the indoor application scenarios that originally belonged to Wi-Fi.
But facts have proved that even today when 5G technology has gradually become popular, Wi-Fi still plays an irreplaceable and important role in our daily life.
At present, the peak downlink transmission rate of 5G network can reach 10Gbps. In contrast, Wi-Fi 6 has a peak rate of 9.6Gbps at a bandwidth of 160MHz. From the perspective of speed, the experience brought by 5G and Wi-Fi 6 can be said to be evenly divided. However, although the number and coverage of 5G base stations have reached the standard, most users spend more time indoors every day, and Wi-Fi technology with a better experience and no need to worry about traffic has become a better choice.
In the past few years, the development speed of Wi-Fi 6 is obvious to all. From mobile phones to routers of mainstream manufacturers, products supporting Wi-Fi 6 technology continue to emerge. The FastConnect 6700 system launched by Qualcomm in 2020 is an advanced 2×2 Wi-Fi 6E mobile connection system designed to accelerate Wi-Fi connections for mid-to-high-end smartphones and computing devices.
At the same time, like the FastConnect 6900 mobile connection system supported by the Snapdragon flagship mobile platform, the FastConnect 6700 product also has the industry’s first 4K QAM modulation technology, and supports three frequency bands of 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz, and supports 2×2 Wi-Fi 6. Brings high throughput and ultra-low latency, enhanced gaming experience and ultra-high-definition streaming capabilities.
The current Wi-Fi technology is mainly used in traditional consumer terminal equipment such as mobile phones, PCs, and routers. However, as the shipments of consumer electronics have peaked and declined in recent years, Wi-Fi technology has been seeking new application scenarios.
In the past two years, with the development of IoT fields such as smart homes and smart cities, the demand for Wi-Fi chips has continued to increase.
In addition to traditional consumer electronics and Internet of Things applications, Wi-Fi 6 technology is also “stretching its muscles” in new high-speed application scenarios with its series of new features. Take the FastConnect 6700 just mentioned as an example, although it is not a flagship products, but its maximum theoretical speed can reach 3Gbps, and it supports 2×2 Wi-Fi 6, which is a great improvement compared to Wi-Fi 5. In addition, FastConnect 6700 also has an ultra-low latency of less than 3ms. Compared with the previous generation, the latency is reduced by more than 8 times, and it has great potential for use in the fields of mobile games and wireless VR.
At the same time, driven by concepts such as metaverse and smart cars, it is expected that Wi-Fi chips for these scenarios will continue to increase in the next five years. At present, many institutions predict that the scale of my country’s entire Wi-Fi chip market will reach 27 billion yuan, of which the market size of Wi-Fi 6 alone will reach 24 billion yuan. This means that the proportion of chips supporting the Wi-Fi 6 standard is close to 90%.
The seamless experience brought by integration is the future trend
In the speculation and doubts that “5G may replace Wi-Fi” and “Wi-Fi will not survive the 5G era” for many years, Wi-Fi is still developing quite well. According to the data of a certain platform, since Wi-Fi 6 can be backward compatible, when purchasing a wireless router, the proportion of attention paid to Wi-Fi 6 routers has exceeded 50%. Although Wi-Fi is a more cost-effective solution than 5G, it is still limited by the range of signal coverage.
In indoor applications, advanced technologies such as Wi-Fi 6 provide an experience comparable to 5G, and can stimulate the rapid development of applications in smart cities, the Internet of Things, VR/AR, etc. At the same time, in large stadiums, campuses, and high-density office buildings, short-term huge loads may cause Wi-Fi to be unable to bear the burden. At this time, 5G assistance is needed to avoid reducing the user experience.
Through these comparisons, we can roughly imagine what kind of user experience will be brought after the integration of 5G and advanced Wi-Fi technology: users will no longer care about the network they are on, and do not need to manually connect to the Wi-Fi network. The system will automatically connect to the network with the best experience according to the quality of the on-site network, truly realizing smooth and seamless switching.