Wi-Fi Alliance® continues its #20yearsofwifi blog series with a guest post from ON Semiconductor. This series celebrates the amazing success of Wi-Fi® over the last two decades. Throughout the series, we will be showcasing Wi-Fi leaders and companies that have helped drive Wi-Fi globally. Be sure to follow Wi-Fi Alliance on social media – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – to make sure you don’t miss one!
What role does Wi-Fi play in your business? How will that change in the future?
Wi-Fi has always been at the core of our business at Quantenna (now ON Semiconductor), and this will not change. Users continue to demand more and more bandwidth and we will continue to deliver the best Wi-Fi user experience in the industry. There has been a lot of growth in Wi-Fi over the last 20 years, and we see continued growth in both the infrastructure and client markets, particularly with the next wave of Wi-Fi based IoT (Internet of Things) devices getting connected.
When you first started working with Wi-Fi, what was your vision for its future?
We started working on Wi-Fi in 2006 when the industry was already well established with basic connectivity over Wi-Fi. Our vision was to take Wi-Fi performance to the next level to really deliver carrier-class connectivity solutions. We were the first company to deliver pay TV, carrier-class HD Video over Wi-Fi at scale, and in order to do that we had to innovate on all layers of the stack, from the physical layer through the MAC QoS (Quality of Service) and application layers. Today, our gateway solutions deliver multiple classes of prioritized video along with data over the best point-to-multipoint physical link, leveraging the latest multi-user technology that Wi-Fi has to offer.
What has made Wi-Fi the success story it is today?
I think it’s a combination of continuous innovation driven through the Wi-Fi standards along with the ease of connectivity and use of unlicensed spectrum. Wi-Fi speeds have increased at quite a clip – our first 4x4 product was only 300Mbps, next was 600Mbps, then 1.7Gbps and now over 10Gbps, that’s pretty impressive! In addition, you can seamlessly connect to a Wi-Fi network anywhere in the world and get access to the internet and use most of the same applications that you would at home, without worrying about the overhead associated with connecting to a cellular network.
What are some of the most innovative Wi-Fi use cases?
The delivery of carrier-class live streaming video over Wi-Fi to multiple set-top boxes is a really great application as it frees the user from being tethered to a cable in the home. Now, OTT (Over-The-Top) video streaming is also very prevalent. I think the proliferation of smart devices in the home that connect in a mesh and coordinate with the cloud is also a great use case. The next wave of Wi-Fi based sensor networks for IoT will greatly expand the reach of Wi-Fi beyond personal devices to a vast number of ‘things’, intelligent edge devices with sensors that connect and enable visibility into our world that we can barely imagine the scope of at this point.
Will people continue to rely on Wi-Fi the way they do now in the next 20 years? How will that reliance change or evolve?
Yes, definitely. In 20 years, Wi-Fi as a technology will be different from what it is today, with new PHY and MAC layer standards and innovations across all layers of the stack. However, to the user, Wi-Fi will still be the workhorse for connectivity, and we will see many more devices connected through Wi-Fi as the IoT expands. We will rely more on Wi-Fi to enhance our lives at home, including keeping us safe, and Wi-Fi will help cars drive while at the same time keeping us connected on the road, and yes, we will still be watching live streaming video and surfing the web!
Why is it critical for Wi-Fi to have more unlicensed spectrum?
Wi-Fi has become the backbone of the connected lifestyle. The potential release of 1.2GHz of spectrum (for the US) in the 6GHz band is over twice the amount of spectrum currently available in 2.4GHz and 5GHz. With an additional seven 160MHz channels, there will be less co-channel interference in dense environments. Also the 6GHz band will not be encumbered with legacy Wi-Fi devices. That means wireless devices can now benefit from greater capacity, increased speed, and better performance that will open up a whole new paradigm in home networking and enterprise applications. And with 5G cellular connectivity starting to rollout, consumers will become used to faster bandwidths, leading them to expect similar fast experiences in the home, and 6GHz Wi-Fi offload will help realize that. Having more unlicensed spectrum will subsequently bring consumers faster service, lower latency and better coverage for their connected devices and service.
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