- Product promises fast, reliable whole-home Wi-Fi experience
- 802.11ax headed for widespread commercial rollout this year
- Likely high prices mean that only early adopters will be willing to shell out
Qualcomm has taken the wraps off a Wi-Fi 6 home mesh networking product developed with kit maker Netgear, as the latest Wi-Fi standard heads for widespread commercial rollout this year.
Wi-Fi 6, otherwise known as 802.11ax, takes modulation technologies used in mobile networks to improve spectral efficiency, delivering faster throughput, greater range, and better reliability and battery performance. When combined with mesh networking, which uses a combination of hubs and satellites to improve Wi-Fi coverage, Wi-Fi 6 holds the potential to provide multi-gigabit wireless connectivity in every part of a customer's home.
Qualcomm said its Wi-Fi 6 products are being used in a wide range of products, spanning home, enterprise and carrier. But while the technology is ready for the masses, the masses might not be ready shell out for it.
Qualcomm didn't share details on pricing, that will likely be for Netgear to decide. However, it is probably safe to assume that systems like this won't come cheap. When it comes to mesh networking, individual satellites can cost as much as £80, and a complete system that includes a hub and multiple satellites can cost £500+. That's for a non-Wi-Fi 6-based system.
To give an idea of how much a brand new, top-of-the-range Wi-Fi 6 product might cost, at CES this week, TP-Link unveiled a range of Wi-Fi 6 routers, including the gaming-focused Archer AX11000. Powered by Qualcomm rival Broadcom's chipset, it boasts throughput of up to 10 Gbps. The price tag though is hefty: according to PCWorld, it will cost $450 when it goes on sale later this month.
It is likely then that 2019 will be the year that early adopters get their hands on Wi-Fi 6, while the masses wait for prices to come down.
Full press release below:
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), today continued to build on its Wi-Fi 6 networking technology traction with the announcement of a home mesh networking product with NETGEAR, accentuating a long list of previously announced and commercially available enterprise and carrier networking products based on the Qualcomm® Wi-Fi 6 Networking platform from Ruckus, Huawei, H3C, NEC, EnGenius, Charter Communications, Calix, and KT. Taken together, these products attest to the significant traction Qualcomm Technologies has achieved, as well as the leadership role the company is playing in defining and guiding the adoption of high-capacity, high-efficiency experiences based on the forthcoming 802.11ax wireless standard.
Wi-Fi 6 fundamentally transforms how Wi-Fi works by delivering significantly more network capacity than previous Wi-Fi standards, while simultaneously making more efficient use of that capacity to deliver superior user experiences for Wi-Fi users. Defining Wi-Fi 6 features include improved individual throughput per device, extended range, improved battery life for Wi-Fi 6 connected devices, and the very latest, most advanced security protocols, WPA3.
“Our world-class engineering capabilities in combination with proactive investments in R&D has delivered time to market advantages for our customers to capitalize on the significant performance upgrades Wi-Fi 6 has to offer,” said Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, connectivity and networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “With today’s announcements, wireless networking customers across home networking, carrier and enterprise segments can experience the capacity and network efficiency benefits our Wi-Fi 6 platforms are delivering around the world.”
Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6 Networking platforms offer robust 11ax configurations and a differentiated feature profile, allowing manufacturers to deliver premium networking products that can maximize capacity, coverage and performance. Notable key features include:
- Highly integrated SoC offering significant flexibility built on a 14nm FinFET process, optimized for superior power
- Up to 12 streams of dual-band Wi-Fi with up to eight spatial streams in the 5 GHz band and four in the 2.4 GHz band.
- Peak aggregate speeds of up to 6 Gbps that can support more than 1000 simultaneously connected Wi-Fi clients.
- Virtually simultaneous multi-user radio access enabling up to 8 simultaneous transmissions using upstream/ downstream MIMO or more than 32 simultaneous transmissions using OFDMA.
- A quad-core 2.2GHz ARM A53 64-bit CPU
Support of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s third-generation of security protocol, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA3), to provide robust protection of user passwords and stronger privacy across both public and private Wi-Fi networks.
Home Wi-Fi 6 Networking:
- Today, NETGEAR announced expansion of its popular NETGEAR Orbi mesh Wi-Fi portfolio to include products built on Wi-Fi 6 technology from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. with expected availability later this year. The NETGEAR Orbi Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System brings fast, secure, and reliable internet to an entire home.
Enterprise Wi-Fi 6 Networking:
- In June 2018, New H3C announced an 802.11ax enterprise-grade access point leveraging Qualcomm Technologies’ products. “The variety of bandwidth-hungry applications in the modern workplace and the bring-your-own-device trend has contributed to a congested wireless environment,” said Bi Shouwen, Vice President, New H3C. “Qualcomm Technologies’ 802.11ax innovations and platforms help enable the increased network capacity and reliability enterprises require to support more users and deliver richer user experiences.”
- In July 2018, Ruckus Networks announced the first IoT- and LTE-ready 802.11ax wireless access point (AP). “Our R730 AP incorporates several different networking capabilities to support various devices and applications found in today’s workplace. Integrating Qualcomm Technologies’ 11ax chipset helps enable us to support higher bandwidth applications in dense environments,” said Ian Whiting, President of Ruckus Networks.
Carrier Wi-Fi 6 Networking:
- In early 2018, KT Corp became the first wireless carrier to support 802.11ax services. In July 2018, KT Corp partnered with Starbucks to deploy 802.11ax AP based on 10 GiGA Internet at Starbucks franchise locations across South Korea. Utilizing chipsets from Qualcomm Technologies, KT solutions have allowed Starbucks locations to triple the speeds of conventional internet service during peak hours at the coffeehouse. “The multi-user features of 802.11ax markedly improve the ability for public networks to provide consistent and reliable Wi-Fi coverage to guest devices,” said KT Corp.
- In July 2018, Charter Communications introduced their next-generation Spectrum Wi-Fi router, powered by Qualcomm Technologies’ solutions.
- In October 2018, Calix unveiled their GigaSpire smart home system utilizing chipsets from Qualcomm Technologies, allowing communications service providers to be first-to-market with an end-to-end solution for smart homes that delivers eight-stream, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) mesh networks, universal IoT support, and built-in Amazon Alexa. “Working with Qualcomm has helped us deliver the first carrier class Wi-Fi 6 system to market. Our customers, communications service providers of every type and size, can now elevate their subscribers’ Wi-Fi experience, paving the way for a wide range of smart home services with unprecedented speed, flexibility and simplicity,” said Michael Weening, executive vice president of field operations for Calix.
Qualcomm Technologies is a global leader in Wi-Fi shipments in home, enterprise, venue Wi-Fi and mobile segments, and it is poised to reshape the carrier segment. According to ABI Research, Qualcomm Technologies came in either first or close second position in global Wi-Fi share quarterly for 2017 and 802.11ax solutions are expected to account for nearly 1/3 of Wi-Fi chipset shipments by 2023. As the Wi-Fi market increasingly transitions towards 802.11ax technologies, new Qualcomm® 802.11ax chipsets will be critical in allowing Wi-Fi vendors to participate in numerous high-performance Wi-Fi market segments.
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