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.
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.