By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Uplink MU-MIMO is the perfect solution for boosting Wi-Fi performance, says Qualcomm – particularly now when lots of users are streaming uplink video from home all at the same time. The feature more than doubles upload Wi-Fi capacity compared to single-user MIMO, new Qualcomm test results reveal.
Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) has been around since Wi-Fi 5 and broadly adopted but today’s use cases as well as high device and traffic density are driving a new, more comprehensive implementation of MU-MIMO for Wi-Fi 6 that includes support for all bands, uplink as well as downlink.
Now Qualcomm is taking MU-MIMO to the next level and well beyond the current iteration of the Wi-Fi 6 standard: Uplink MU-MIMO significantly boosts uplink Wi-Fi performance. In the case of 8×8 configurations, MU-MIMO more than doubles Wi-Fi data capacity from 990 Mbps (for SU UL-MIMO) to nearly 2.4 Gbps (for 8-stream UL MU-MIMO), new Qualcomm test results reveal.
The feature is hugely beneficial today because so many devices – especially within the home – are competing for uplink capacity for streaming of video, gaming, and of course not least for incessant work-from-home video conferencing. In essence uplink MU-MIMO allows APs to transmit to devices (including mesh units) on all streams simultaneously instead of sequentially as in the case of single-user (SU) MIMO. Also see the short demo video below for more.
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The fact that this is all happening in the uplink direction for devices is beyond the current iteration of the Wi-Fi 6 standard. But the good news is that the UL MU-MIMO feature is also supported by Qualcomm-powered Wi-Fi 6-capable APs so that with the appropriate choice of device and router, you can benefit from the performance boost today. Beyond the home, uplink MU-MIMO is also strongly in demand for enterprises including at public venues, Qualcomm says.
According to expert sources, excessive uplink traffic (without MU-MIMO) is relatively much more detrimental to Wi-Fi quality than an overload of downlink traffic. This is one key reason for structuring uplink data transmission in the form of MU-MIMO. Another reason is that today, peak hour within the home now happens all day and involves constant two-way video streaming and conferencing. In the not too distant past, Wi-Fi traffic was mostly happening the downlink direction.
Last but not least: The UL MU-MIMO feature also supports superfast 160 MHz channels. This means that the combination of uplink MU-MIMO and 6 GHz spectrum will deliver an even more significant boost to home or enterprise Wi-Fi capacity with Wi-Fi 6E – with all of seven new and pristine 160 MHz channels available in the 6 GHz band. In general the uplink MU-MIMO feature is available in all bands from Qualcomm, the company says.