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Keysight - 5992-1581EN - White Paper :: Eye on 802.11ax: What it is and How to Overcome the Test Challenges it Creates

Keysight 5992-1581EN White Paper :: Eye on 802.11ax: What it is and How to Overcome the Test Challenges it Creates

White Paper :: Eye on 802.11ax: What it is and How to Overcome the Test Challenges it Creates. Wireless access to data has become an everyday necessity for both consumers and enterprises. In the last 30 years al...
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White Paper :: Eye on 802.11ax: What it is and How to Overcome the Test Challenges it Creates

White Paper :: Eye on 802.11ax: What it is and How to Overcome the Test Challenges it Creates.

Wireless access to data has become an everyday necessity for both consumers and enterprises. In the last 30 years alone, unfettered access to information has transformed entire industries, fueling growth, productivity and profits. WiFi technology, governed by the IEEE 802.11 standards body, has played a key role in this transformation, providing users with pervasive, low-cost access to high data rate wireless connectivity. The newest 802.11 standard, 802.11ax, is taking things one step further by promising to deliver that connectivity faster, over the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band by utilizing OFDM, up to 1024 QAM, and multi-user MIMO.

While still in the early stages of development, the 802.11ax standard holds great promise, especially for dense deployments in both indoor and outdoor environments. Like any emerging standard; however, the new technologies it adopts present unique challenges when it comes to testing.

A Closer Look at 802.11ax
To better understand 802.11ax, it's crucial to first take a step back and look at 802.11ac. The 802.11ac standard allows up to 4 spatial streams of data. The 802.11ax draft specification, available since January 2016, builds on 802.11ac by doubling the number of spatial streams and significantly improving the efficiency (and in turn the throughput) of those streams. 802.11ax, like 802.11ac, also operates in the 5-GHz band where there is more space for its 80-MHz and 160-MHz channels.

What makes 802.11ax so appealing is its ability to dramatically increase throughput while improving power efficiency for mobile devices. And it's not just theoretical system-level throughput (e.g., the banner specification that each new technology touts) that's improved, but actual real-world throughput achieved by individual users in high-density scenarios, both indoors and outdoors, in the presence of interfering sources. Put simply, 802.11ax promises consumers a dramatically better user experience, in all possible scenarios. That's welcome news for emerging applications like interactive and high-definition video, which are often called on to work in challenging environments with a high density of WiFi users (e.g., stadiums and public transportation).

To deliver on these objectives, 802.11ax must utilize a number of different technologies.
While it's anticipated that the standard will be based around OFDM, some of the other technologies currently under consideration include: OFDMA, MU-MIMO and higher order modulation. OFDM is typically used for high data rate systems because of its resilience to channel irregularities (e.g., selective fading). In the case of 802.11ax, OFDM will need to be modified to have a reduced sub-carrier spacing (4x symbol length) and have more variable Cyclic Prefixes (CPs) to support different scenarios, especially long outdoor channels where the trade-off between efficiency and robustness becomes critical.

Another technology under consideration for its ability to improve performance is Overlapping Basic Service Sets (OBSS) interference handling. OBSS techniques, which can take many forms and may include some variant of beamforming reception, are important due to the increasing number of Access Points (APs) being deployed. These deployments make spectrum management and interference mitigation from adjacent APs increasingly important and that's where OBSS techniques come in. These techniques, like OFDM, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and higher order modulation will improve 802.11ax's spatial reuse and spectrum efficiency, enabling it to achieve high system performance.

Beware: Challenges Ahead
Like all emerging standards, 802.11ax's use of technologies like OFDM and interference handling techniques increase design complexity and create a number of new test challenges for the engineer. Some of those challenges arise when it comes to basic measurements, as shown in the Table, while others come from new test requirements.

For example, while the transmitter tests and key receiver tests defined in the 802.11ax specification are carried over from 802.11ac, new tests for Multi-User (MU) transmission have been added. MU transmission is the one of most important new features in 802.11ax and relies on transmission accuracy and synchronization by STAs for effective operation. As a result, a number of new test requirements in support of MU transmission have been proposed.........

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White Paper :: Eye on 802.11ax: What it is and How to Overcome the Test Challenges it Creates.

Wireless access to data has become an everyday necessity for both consumers and enterprises. In the last 30 years alone, unfettered access to information has transformed entire industries, fueling growth, productivity and profits. WiFi technology, governed by the IEEE 802.11 standards body, has played a key role in this transformation, providing users with pervasive, low-cost access to high data rate wireless connectivity. The newest 802.11 standard, 802.11ax, is taking things one step further by promising to deliver that connectivity faster, over the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band by utilizing OFDM, up to 1024 QAM, and multi-user MIMO.

While still in the early stages of development, the 802.11ax standard holds great promise, especially for dense deployments in both indoor and outdoor environments. Like any emerging standard; however, the new technologies it adopts present unique challenges when it comes to testing.

A Closer Look at 802.11ax
To better understand 802.11ax, it's crucial to first take a step back and look at 802.11ac. The 802.11ac standard allows up to 4 spatial streams of data. The 802.11ax draft specification, available since January 2016, builds on 802.11ac by doubling the number of spatial streams and significantly improving the efficiency (and in turn the throughput) of those streams. 802.11ax, like 802.11ac, also operates in the 5-GHz band where there is more space for its 80-MHz and 160-MHz channels.

What makes 802.11ax so appealing is its ability to dramatically increase throughput while improving power efficiency for mobile devices. And it's not just theoretical system-level throughput (e.g., the banner specification that each new technology touts) that's improved, but actual real-world throughput achieved by individual users in high-density scenarios, both indoors and outdoors, in the presence of interfering sources. Put simply, 802.11ax promises consumers a dramatically better user experience, in all possible scenarios. That's welcome news for emerging applications like interactive and high-definition video, which are often called on to work in challenging environments with a high density of WiFi users (e.g., stadiums and public transportation).

To deliver on these objectives, 802.11ax must utilize a number of different technologies.
While it's anticipated that the standard will be based around OFDM, some of the other technologies currently under consideration include: OFDMA, MU-MIMO and higher order modulation. OFDM is typically used for high data rate systems because of its resilience to channel irregularities (e.g., selective fading). In the case of 802.11ax, OFDM will need to be modified to have a reduced sub-carrier spacing (4x symbol length) and have more variable Cyclic Prefixes (CPs) to support different scenarios, especially long outdoor channels where the trade-off between efficiency and robustness becomes critical.

Another technology under consideration for its ability to improve performance is Overlapping Basic Service Sets (OBSS) interference handling. OBSS techniques, which can take many forms and may include some variant of beamforming reception, are important due to the increasing number of Access Points (APs) being deployed. These deployments make spectrum management and interference mitigation from adjacent APs increasingly important and that's where OBSS techniques come in. These techniques, like OFDM, OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and higher order modulation will improve 802.11ax's spatial reuse and spectrum efficiency, enabling it to achieve high system performance.

Beware: Challenges Ahead
Like all emerging standards, 802.11ax's use of technologies like OFDM and interference handling techniques increase design complexity and create a number of new test challenges for the engineer. Some of those challenges arise when it comes to basic measurements, as shown in the Table, while others come from new test requirements.

For example, while the transmitter tests and key receiver tests defined in the 802.11ax specification are carried over from 802.11ac, new tests for Multi-User (MU) transmission have been added. MU transmission is the one of most important new features in 802.11ax and relies on transmission accuracy and synchronization by STAs for effective operation. As a result, a number of new test requirements in support of MU transmission have been proposed.........


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