The new version of WiFI 6 has arrived, ushering in an era where access points in a network enjoy even faster connectivity and security. In the development of WiFi 6, the Wifi Alliance played a prominent role with years of work on standardisation . In this weekly column of Deep Dive, Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance to hear his insights on what the latest version of WiFi bring onto the table. Under Edgar’s leadership, Wi-Fi Alliance has grown to more than 800 member companies.
The WiFi Alliance started in 1999 with the simple goal to get devices to work together across brands based on IEEE 802.11b standard. About two decades later, the WiFi Alliance has more than 800 partner companies that are working to adopt and foster Wi-Fi technology. When asked about the exact role of WiFi Alliance, Edgar said its main role is to ensure the adoption of WiFi. In terms of getting past the roadblocks related to spectrum availability, WiFi Alliance is working with the Indian government in addressing is availability of spectrum that WiFi can use in the country. Its efforts have been fruitful as last year the Indian government moved to make more spectrum available in 5 GHz for WiFi use.
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“WiFI Alliance is working towards delivering great user experience and to address any obstacles to market growth. We also ensure we have a healthy representation of the ecosystem where partners and competitors can debate where WiFi goes next and then what people don’t realize is WiFi is a unique recipe of technologies. On occasion when we don’t have a technology available, we will invent it and finally sometimes we need more spectrum, and so we talk to governments about the option to make more spectrum available for Wi-Fi,” explained Edgar Figueroa.
Different technology projects which are part of WiFi Alliance
Of course WiFi is very important to service operators, not only does WiFi carry most of the data traffic in the world but it carries the bulk of the data traffic across mobile networks. For example, WiFi Alliance helped develop the technology of optimised connectivity which allow the network to steer devices to a different access point or to a different channel or to a different band, depending on the conditions at the time right. Such technology has great utility in places with high congestions like train stations where they maybe hundreds of people connecting to a Wi-Fi network at the same time.
Edgar says that while in the past, this would have bogged down the WiFi network but now with network optimisation, the network will be able to respond to that sort of device avalanche in a much efficient manner, with something called the Agile Multiband. The new WiFi has multiple KPIs, lot of metrics, a number of mechanisms like that make the WiFi network more intelligent and multi – band operations which also allows users to transition from one network to another network or from WiFi to cellular. This steers the devices to the right spectrum, that address particular demanding applications like video or voice that are happening on the network dynamically.
“We are bringing more than 100 KPIs that are being monitored dynamically from the WiFi network and sent to the telecom operator so the telecom operator can make intelligent decisions with their equipment autonomously,” told Figueroa.
The other important aspect that helps in the smooth adoption of WiFi is the security of communication over the network. WiFi Alliance came up with the WPA3 standards to ensure better encryption and prevent hackers to get access to sensitive information.
“WPA3 is of course, another generational improvement of what we have had before. Even though there is no password or anything like that set up, once you connect to the access point to that network, the communications are encrypted. So, nobody can snoop in and listen to what’s being communicated on that network,” according to Figueroa.
According to Edgar, the WiFi Alliance maintains an aggressive development roadmap, and adopted a vision of “Connecting everyone and everything, everywhere.” The 5G rollout is a tremendous opportunity for Wi-Fi, says Edgar. Every generation of new cellular technology has meant that Wi-Fi carries increasingly a bigger proportion of traffic that goes on with those networks and every projection is that Wi-Fi will carry even more proportion of the network going over 5G environment. So, the good news is that Wi-Fi 6 has been designed from the beginning to deal with that for example the capacity is already very well exceeded in Wi-Fi 6 against the requirements for 5G, latency is very well exceeded. Home automation is something that WiFi Alliance is very interested in. The organisation started out with a program called Wi-Fi certified home design which allows home builder or someone who is managing an apartment complex to make sure that within every home in that environment there is a great footprint of Wi-Fi in every room.
“We meet the requirements for density and data rates and spectrum efficiency and combined with some of the programs mentioned earlier like optimised connectivity and enhanced multi-band, video with also peak data rates, mobility, network efficiency, I think you know it’s continued to be a story of complementary technologies that work very well together and benefit the customers and telecom operators,” told Figueroa.