A Few Things I Picked Up at Wi-Fi Global Congress in San Jose

We take Wi-Fi for granted, but it is constantly evolving, and so are areas associated with it. At Wi-Fi Global Congress in San Jose, I picked up a few things that I considered interesting in the area of Wi-Fi.

That does not mean those were the only noteworthy topics; there were many more, including smart cities, but I could attend only several of many sessions.

Wi-Fi and Problems

Suraj Shetty of Cisco presented the transition of Wi-Fi and its problems yet to be solved. Wi-Fi has made the transitions shown below.

Source: Wi-Fi alliance official logo

Source: Suraj Shetty’s presentation

Wi-Fi once was used exclusively indoors, but it is moving outdoors, making IoT a reality. Gordon Kelly has a useful article in Forbes about different types of Wi-Fi standards. His article was very informative, especially on 802.11ac, but Suraji comes from a different point of view and presented current problems with Wi-Fi.

This is where Wi-Fi is used: home, work, hotspots, and on the go. The following slide shows, by percentage, where Wi-Fi is used and a problem associated with each area.

 

Source: Suraj Shetty’s presentation

Home

- Use: 50%

- Problem: Interference among multiple Wi-Fi access points

- Solution: Self-Organizing Network (SON) that coordinates frequencies, channels, and power

By the way, an article by Cisco regarding WiFi interference is interesting and useful.

Work:

- Use: 35%

- Problem: Coverage. VPN based on InfoSec does not allow applications like VoWiFi (Voice over Wi-Fi), for security reasons because none of the encrypted material can be inspected. That is why some applications cannot be covered.

Hotspots:

- Use: 11%

- Problem: Seamless onboarding. Transitions from one hotspot to another require multiple manual processing to be connected. That is cumbersome.

On the Go:

- Use: 4%

- Problem: Similar to the problem stated for hotspots: a seamless transition from one hotspot to another is required. Yet a user needs to be aware of several factors and do cumbersome manual processing to be connected with a new hotspot.

Spectrum Sharing

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a great technology. It dynamically allocates an IP address when in need but returns unused addresses to the shared pool. This is because not everyone is trying to connect all the time. An IP address, a resource, is allocated when necessary, then released. What if the same thing can be done with a spectrum?

The spectrum for radio is crowded and would be more effectively utilized if we could dynamically allocate and deallocate it. FCC recently released rules for Innovative Spectrum Sharing in 3.5 GHz band. This announcement is long and tedious. FierceWirelessTech article is a good source for the information.

In short:

- Contiguous 150MHz blocks of spectrum in the 3.5GHz–3.7GHz band became available April 17, 2015. This spectrum was exclusively reserved for DoD before.

- From the article: “The band is seen as ideal for small cells, but FCC staff also has said it’s possible that new, as-yet-unforeseen uses for the band will emerge; hence, it’s referred to as the “innovation band.”

- FCC received some concerns about interference with LTE Assisted Access (LAA) technology being standardized at 3GPP. The concern is LAA’s potential to interfere with unlicensed spectrum and Wi-Fi users. This concern will be addressed.

5G

I am behind. Recently, I upgraded my cell phone, which is on an LTE network. Yes, 3G was too slow and I finally made the decision to move on. If you are a purist, you do not refer to LTE as 4G. For those who jumped into some form of 4G like me, 5G is too futuristic. But the work is in progress. The following is a slide from Chris Bruce, WBA co-chair and BT Global Services.

 

5G is designed by Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance.

Again, many more topics were discussed, including smart cities. Wireless communication is an indispensable part of smart cities. But this is a topic for a future blog.

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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