Until now the highly-prized concept of ‘mobility’ (meaning not losing the wireless connection when you move around) has belonged to the cellular world. Now, this about to change. New ‘mobility enhancements’ to the Wi-Fi standard will deliver cellular-style handoffs and a host of other improvements that should make Wi-Fi perform much like cellular 4G – but faster.
An incremental change to a technology can make a big difference in market impact and popular success. And there’s a very good chance that consumers – and business – will be delighted with what Wi-Fi has in store for us next.
They’re called ‘mobility enhancements’. Technically, these includes a new alphabet soup of 802.11 standards (802.11ai, 802.11r, 802.11k, 802.11v to be exact). From the user’s point of view, it means that the connected experience with Wi-Fi will soon be faster, more consistent, and even mobile. The enhancements gives service providers the toolbox to finally deliver Wi-Fi that will feel much like cellular – except faster, of course.
Above graphic courtesy of Broadcom Corporation.
The various new standards pieces take care of faster call setup (802.11ai), cellular-style handoffs (802.11r and 802.11ai together), and load balancing/steering (802.11k/v). Some of the new distributed in-home Wi-Fi systems (such as Google Wi-Fi) are already using 802.11r for handoff. With the addition of the other pieces, uninterrupted ‘mobile’ Wi-Fi on campuses, in city streets, and everywhere indoors is in the pipeline.
The new tech will likely also be a boost to the case for carrier-initiated Wi-Fi offload: Devices will be able to find APs and authenticate on networks much faster than before (inside of 100 ms) and also do away with the old and pernicious ‘sticky AP’ problem.
Add to this the upcoming 802.11ax release, and we looking at lot of exciting opportunities ahead in Wi-Fi.
Watch below: My interview with Broadcom’s Thomas Derham on Wi-Fi NOW TV.