IEEE 802.11ax

What is 802.11ax Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi experiences a seismic change approximately every five years – and 802.11ax is the latest generation of Wi-Fi that bridges the performance gap towards ten gigabit speeds. The new Wi-Fi standard will deliver faster network performance, connect more devices simultaneously and transition Wi-Fi from a ‘best-effort’ endeavor to a deterministic wireless technology that has become the de-facto medium for internet connectivity. With an expected four-fold capacity increase over its 802.11ac Wave 2 predecessor, 802.11ax deployed in dense device environments will support higher service-level agreements (SLAs) to more concurrently connected users and devices with more diverse usage profiles.

IDC Technology Spotlight Paper

Evaluating the New 802.11ax WiFi Standard and What It Will Mean for Enterprises. Read More.

802.11ax offers a range of technical enhancements to optimize spectral efficiency, increase throughput and reduce power consumption. These include:


Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and multi-user multiple-in multiple-out (MU-MIMO) are techniques that increase reliability and efficiency in the unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum. In contrast to previous generations of Wi-Fi, OFDMA enables Wi-Fi to become deterministic, as devices consistently receive more attention with minimal contention. This helps stabilize Wi-Fi performance, especially in higher density environments.

Each Wi-Fi channel is divided into smaller sub-channels known as Resource Units. The AP decides how to allocate the sub-channels, as each individual RU (or sub-channel) can be addressed to different clients that are serviced simultaneously. This technique improves the average throughput (per user) by creating a narrower, albeit dedicated sub-channel. Moreover, OFDMA boosts spectral efficiency and reduces latency, while supporting heterogeneous users (i.e., IM, email or light web browsing versus large downloads).

It is important to note that OFDMA and MU-MIMO provide complementary techniques to concurrently serve multiple users. More specifically, OFDMA is best utilized when multiple connections transmit limited amounts of data. OFDMA which is effective at all ranges – close, medium and far – offers lower latency and can be used to mitigate OBSS interference issues. Meanwhile, MU-MIMO best serves multiple user with full buffer traffic and is most effective at close-to mid-range.

Uplink MU-MIMO

With 802.11ax, OFDMA and MU-MIMO are supported in downlink (from AP to stations) and uplink (from stations to AP). It should be noted that the AP schedules the transmissions in both directions. This contrasts with pre-802.11ax networks (especially in uplink direction), where resource allocation is contention-based, with individual stations making the decision to appropriate the medium and transmit data. As stations increase, so does contention.

Sub-carrier spacing and MAC/PHY enhancements

With 802.11ax, sub-carrier spacing is reduced, thereby enabling a 4X jump in the number of available data-tones and significantly increasing maximum PHY rates. Moreover, additional data tones help support multiple users in conjunction with OFDMA. 802.11ax also optimizes spectral efficiency with more tones/channel, reduces overhead, bolsters outdoor operation and facilitates a quantum jump in highest achievable PHY rates. In addition, 802.11ax APs maintains two separate network allocation vectors (NAVs) to prevent misbehavior and collisions. Last, but certainly not least, 802.11ax features a 1024-QAM constellation (in contrast to 256-QAM for 11ac), enabling a 25% physical data rate increase that in combination with other 802.11ax techniques offer up to 4x the capacity.

Target Wake Time

First introduced in the IEEE 802.11ah standard, target wake time (TWT) enables scheduled sleep and power-on (awake) times, along with pre-negotiated wake times between AP and clients to avoid on-the-air contention amongst client devices. This helps make air utilization more efficient and enhances the battery life of client devices.

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Tecnologías inalámbricas generales

Qué significa:

802.11ax es el último estándar inalámbrico IEEE de Wi-Fi. Este nuevo estándar ofrece avances significativos en distintas áreas.  Amplía las técnicas de entradas y salidas múltiples (MU-MIMO) para realizar hasta ocho transmisiones simultáneas (802.11ac Wave 2 permite cuatro transmisiones). Además, incorpora a MU-MIMO tecnología de acceso múltiple por división de frecuencias ortogonales (OFDMA) para que cada transmisión MU-MIMO se pueda dividir en cuatro transmisiones adicionales. De esta forma, la tasa de transferencia efectiva aumenta cuatro veces por usuario.

La introducción de nuevos conjuntos de modulación y codificación en 1024-QAM permite la transferencia de más datos por paquete; de esta forma, mejora el rendimiento. También mejora la eficacia general de las capas físicas y MAC, además de la gestión energética de las baterías.

A modo de ejemplo, si el estándar anterior era similar a una larga fila de clientes que aguardan la atención de un solo cajero en un supermercado, MU-MIMO amplía el supermercado a cuatro cajeros que atienden a cuatro filas de clientes en 802.11ac. 802.11ax lo amplía aún más: ocho cajeros que atienden a ocho filas de clientes. Con OFDMA, los cajeros ahora pueden atender a varios clientes a la vez cuando estén desocupados. Imagine un cajero capaz de atender al siguiente cliente cuando un cliente decide buscar un artículo a último momento.

Por qué debe interesarle:

Actualmente, encontramos Wi-Fi en estadios o aeropuertos repletos de gente donde se utilizan cientos de miles de dispositivos que compiten por conseguir ancho de banda. El actual estándar 802.11ac no es realmente óptimo para este propósito. 802.11ac aumenta cuatro veces la tasa de transmisión por usuario en entornos de alta densidad.

La combinación del último estándar con el conjunto de tecnologías de densidad ultra alta de Ruckus le permitirá proporcionar la mejor experiencia a usuarios finales.