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Auto Makers Double Down on Wi-Fi

Many new features in cars start as expensive options for luxury editions and evolve into standard features for all models. This certainly has been true with Wi-Fi. According to Car and Driver magazine, “Wi-Fi access has become a major selling point for buyers, especially for those who feel cut off from the world without Internet access. In fact, having a Wi-Fi hot spot is typically an expectation when considering a new vehicle.”

From its start as a simple way for our passengers to surf the Internet and watch movies while we’re driving, Wi-Fi’s utility has increased significantly, in part due to new features available in Wi-Fi 6. This article will trace how Wi-Fi is being used in cars and its evolution from an expensive option to an essential feature.

Why Wi-Fi?

Most smartphones can serve as hotspots, and we all have smartphones, so why do cars need Wi-Fi? Several reasons.


Honda - As any parent can tell you, keeping everyone connected is a big part of modern family happiness. With our new...4G LTE Wi-Fi, the new Odyssey is all about keeping everyone connected and comfortable.”


First, Wi-Fi installed in your car doesn’t consume your phone’s battery nor your mobile data plan. Also, as we’ll discuss later, Wi-Fi installed in your car enables features that you can’t get with phone-based Wi-Fi. Moreover, it guarantees you autonomy and a secured and reliable connection all the time: there might be public hotspots, but you don’t need to depend on them anymore - plus, Wi-Fi connection in your own car is generally safer than a Starbucks Wi-Fi!

It Started with Entertainment

When Wi-Fi first appeared in cars, passenger entertainment was a huge driver and differentiator. For example, when Honda added Wi-Fi to its 2018 Odyssey minivan, it enabled streaming video to its ceiling-mounted rear entertainment system. Regarding its utility, a Honda executive commented, “As any parent can tell you, keeping everyone connected is a big part of modern family happiness. With our new...4G LTE Wi-Fi, the new Odyssey is all about keeping everyone connected and comfortable.”

This functionality and sentiment have been echoed by many other carmakers. Here’s a blurb from Jaguar's website. “Wi-Fi Hotspot is all about keeping you connected. It allows you and your passengers to connect to the internet via a powerful in-car 4G hotspot. This means that up to eight devices can be connected to keep in touch with work, life, and entertainment while on the move.” Cadillac's website prompts potential buyers to “take ownership to the next level. Cadillac Connected Services helps make ownership more enjoyable and simplifies your life while on the go.”


Mercedes Benz - “One of the greatest technological innovations to be added to Mercedes-Benz vehicles in recent years is the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot in your vehicle.


Mercedes Benz gushes, “One of the greatest technological innovations to be added to Mercedes-Benz vehicles in recent years is the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot in your vehicle. This has a couple of benefits. For one, you can avoid overage charges with your cellphone carrier, which can just be annoying. And two, it allows devices like tablets or laptops that may not have 4G capability to easily connect to the Internet with a connection that is secure and fast.”

BMW touts the productivity-related benefits of Wi-Fi, “WiFi in the car...could soon revolutionize our workplace. Collaborative tools enable location-independent cooperative work, easy communication, and secure exchange of documents. Provided one has a stable internet connection, work can be done at home, in the park, in the café or on the beach, as well as on the train or in the car...For new car buyers, WiFi is increasingly becoming a key factor when it comes to making a purchase decision, if not a basic requirement.”

Regarding FordPass Connect, Ford’s website explains, “Up to 10 devices can connect at once, and you can use FordPass to keep track of your Wi-Fi data usage. You can access the hotspot up to 50 feet outside the vehicle. Now you can stay connected, even as you roam the highways.”


Ford - “Now you can stay connected, even as you roam the highways.”


Going Beyond Entertainment and Connectivity

For perspective, understand that although Wi-Fi’s range has extended significantly over previous generations, it’s essentially a local technology. Within a car, Wi-Fi (and often Bluetooth) is used to allow dozens of sensors and other devices to communicate with each other and the car’s CPU. When data is interchanged with services outside the car, this can be done via Wi-Fi if the external service is local--like a car on a dealer’s lot--or via cellular if more remote. In this fashion, Wi-Fi and cellular work together to keep your car connected.

Figure 1. Internal connectivity use cases for the connected car (Image credit EDN).

This technology collaboration enables features like location sharing, driving history, and crash response. Tesla goes far beyond this with remote diagnostics and over-the-air (OTA) software updates that can eliminate repair trips to the dealership. As described on Tesla’s website, “If your car requires attention, Tesla mobile technicians can complete most repairs wherever you park. If they can’t fix your issue on the spot, they can often identify and pre-diagnose repairs for faster service when you arrive at a Tesla Service Center.”

Where is all this going? The website Electrek, which tracks the transition from gas-powered cars to electric, predicts that “in a not-so-distant self-driving future, I can see your Tesla sending you a message asking if you need your car for a certain window of time, and if you don’t, it will drive by itself to the service center to get an issue fixed.” As traditional carmakers computerize more and more functions within their vehicles and launch new electric vehicles, many are also offering OTA updates. You can learn which companies offer OTA updates and how they work In this article, also on electrek.

The Promise of Wi-Fi 6

Meanwhile continued R&D investments by Wi-Fi contributors deliver new features that will enable newer versions of Wi-Fi, like Wi-Fi 6, to more efficiently serve in automobile-related applications. As detailed in EDN, “Wi-Fi 6 is expected to become the de-facto wireless interface for fully-connected cars. The most significant improvement over its predecessor is increased spectral efficiency, delivering an up-to-fourfold increase in channel capacity. This will either allow it to serve more clients per access point or enable new high-bandwidth use cases, for example streaming ultra-high-resolution video. Wi-Fi 6’s flexibility makes it better adapted to serve clients using smaller chunks of data, without reserving unnecessary overhead.

These improvements are elaborated upon in NXP’s article, 6 Reasons Why Automotive OEMs Are Upgrading to Wi-Fi 6, which lists less congestion, longer range, lower power, faster speeds, upload performance, and consumer satisfaction as the six reasons.

Figure 2. As predicted by BMW, autonomous driving will only make integrated Wi-Fi even more important to the automobile (Image credit - BMW).

The benefits that Wi-Fi delivers will only increase as autonomous driving becomes a reality. As summarized by BMW, “Permanently integrated WiFi, in particular, illustrates a change that vehicles are currently undergoing. Whereas we are currently using cars purely for locomotion, in the future autonomous driving will open up new possibilities: From the mobile office and entertainment to simple connectivity – WiFi in the car is one of the first steps towards achieving these goals.”


BMW - “From the mobile office and entertainment to simple connectivity – WiFi in the car is one of the first steps towards achieving these goals.”


Clearly, automakers are all in when it comes to Wi-Fi. For you, as consumers, this means ever-increasing convenience and safety.

Funding Innovation

Wi-Fi innovations come from multiple companies that invest hundreds of millions annually in R&D. Some recoup their investment largely via product sales, while others are research organizations that fund R&D with royalties from the companies that manufacture and sell products that utilize their technologies. As a patent pool administrator, Sisvel helps form and manage patent pools that provide efficient access to the technologies created by their patent owners.

A patent pool allows, by signing a single contract, to deliver access to multiple patented technologies, reducing overall administrative and licensing costs and accelerating time to market. Royalties paid by these licensees enable additional R&D to ensure that Wi-Fi and other technologies continue to meet and anticipate the future needs of current and new users.

Think about this innovation cycle the next time your passengers surf the Internet or watch high-quality movies while you’re driving, or you get an email from your car telling you that your engine is overheating and needs checking. Without the advancements funded by royalties, none of this would be happening.
Head image credit IEEE SA

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Welcome to Sisvel Wi-Fi Blog

Hello, I’m Andrea Rombolà, I’m managing the Sisvel’s program on Wi-Fi technology. As you’ll see over the next few months, we’re using this blog to educate readers on Wi-Fi technology, highlight the business opportunities in new and existing markets that it enables, and to present our point of view regarding patent licensing.
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Wi-Fi 6 and 6E: The Perfect Prescription for the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

Even ten to fifteen years ago, most hospital Wi-Fi networks connected computers and notebooks, and perhaps the odd PDA or medical device. Today, the number of connected medical devices has soared into the millions, with many requiring in-hospital Wi-Fi connections. At the same time, largely COVID-inspired telemedicine is expected to achieve seven-fold growth by 2025, placing additional demands on Wi-Fi networks.

Few doubt the benefits that connected medical devices and telemedicine bring to patient care and operational efficiency. But the combination of more Wi-Fi devices, more access points, and increased bandwidth requirements creates new and increased demands on medical facility Wi-Fi infrastructures.

Fortunately, due to the forward-thinking development strategy adopted by companies contributing to Wi-Fi standards and technologies, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E were designed to handle many of the technical challenges imposed by IoMT and telemedicine. This article will identify these challenges and the new features and capabilities in Wi-Fi 6 and 6E that will enable medical facilities to meet them.

About Wi-Fi 6 and 6E

The standard for wireless local-area networks (WLANs), officially marketed by the Wi-Fi Alliance as Wi-Fi 6, operates over the 2.4 and 5 GHz spectrum bands. Wi-Fi 6E is also based on 802.11ax standard and is an extension of Wi-Fi 6 indicating support for operation also in the 6 GHz wireless spectrum.

As with all Wi-Fi generations, Wi-Fi 6 delivers much faster transfer speeds, with a maximum data rate almost three times faster than Wi-Fi 5 (9.6 Gbps compared to 3.5). However, another major focus of Wi-Fi 6 was to improve efficiency when multiple devices are vying for network access and to minimize contention when multiple routers are installed in the same building or office. One target was to increase “average throughput per user more than four times in high-density environments” another to reduce latency by as much as 75%. This is why Wi-Fi 6 is also called “High-Efficiency Wi-Fi.”

The features implemented to achieve these results make Wi-Fi 6 and 6E uniquely qualified for deployment in healthcare environments. Let’s explore common healthcare-related Wi-Fi challenges and features that enable Wi-Fi 6 to overcome them.

Multiple medical connected devices, many of which use Wi-Fi

Figure 1: Multiple medical connected devices, many of which use Wi-Fi.

Scenario 1: Multiple Devices Seeking Wi-Fi Access

The average hospital room has between 15-20 connected devices, many using Wi-Fi, with some using other communications technologies like Bluetooth. Some may be pulling relatively light duty, like a heart rate monitor pushing a few bytes of data a minute while a laptop retrieving an x-ray or other scan needs to download megabytes of data as quickly as possible. All devices are mission critical.

Previous generations of Wi-Fi communicated to each device sequentially using fixed bandwidth packets. This wasted bandwidth when the available data was less than the capacity of the packets, and increased latency when serving multiple clients, who all had to wait their turn to transmit or receive packets. You see this on the top in Figure 2.

One key new feature in Wi-Fi 6 is Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which allows up to 37 clients to share a 80 MHz channel simultaneously, using varying packet sizes, so the heart rate monitor can send just a few bytes of data while the downloading x-ray consumes much more bandwidth. Shown at the bottom of Figure 1, this allows the network to serve more devices more efficiently and reduce network-related latency.

How OFDMA improves throughput, spectrum efficiency, and multi-device traffic capacity

Figure 2. How OFDMA improves throughput, spectrum efficiency, and multi-device traffic capacity (from here).


Wi-Fi 6 also expanded the capacity of Multi-Input Multiple-output (MIMO) technology, which lets a Wi-Fi access point with multiple antennas communicate simultaneously with multiple devices. With Wi-Fi 5, an access point with four antennas could transmit to four devices simultaneously, but the access point could only accept a single upload at a time. Wi-Fi 6 supports up to eight antennas for both download and upload, further reducing latency and improving multiple device support.


Telemedicine is a very high bandwidth bi-directional medium that imposes significant demands on Wi-Fi systems

Figure 3. Telemedicine is a very high bandwidth bi-directional medium that imposes significant demands on Wi-Fi systems.


Telemedicine

Video-conferencing is a highly-demanding application for both upload and download. Obviously, Wi-Fi 6’s increased speed benefits in both directions, but other advanced Wi-Fi technologies also contribute to improved performance.

Increased MIMO is one of them; in addition to allowing an access point with multiple antennas to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously (Downlink, DL, MU-MIMO) as already defined in 802.11ac, 802.11ax also allows devices to communicate with the access point using multiple antennas (Uplink , UL, MU-MIMO). So, a computer with a network card with two antennas could double the Wi-Fi bandwidth by communicating over two antennas.

Wi-Fi 6 also uses a technology called Beamforming to direct signals towards specific clients, improving both throughput and range. Beamforming was part of Wi-Fi 5 but only addressed four users , which Wi-Fi 6 increased to eight. Another efficiency technique is 1024-QAM, which increases the information carried by the Wi-Fi signal from 8-bits to 10-bits, increasing throughput by 25%.

Finally, Wi-Fi 6E compatible devices can also access the 6 GHz wireless spectrum, which adds 14 80 MHz channels and seven 160 MHz channels to the 2.4/5 GHz channels addressed by Wi-Fi 6. Since the 6GHz spectrum isn’t used by previous Wi-Fi generations, there will be less contention for these resources. The availability of this new, higher bandwidth spectrum means faster connections with less interference from legacy devices and better service for video-conferencing and similar bi-directional mediums.


Multiple networks in the same location can increase latency significantly without BSS Coloring

Figure 4. Multiple networks in the same location can increase latency significantly without BSS Coloring.


Multiple Networks and Access Points

Many medical facilities have multiple networks with different access points serving different departments and different classes of users, like guests and internal staff. Though each access point will only serve clients that are properly logged in, they all share the same spectrum, which can introduce latency when devices are vying for connections within their individual networks.

A new Wi-Fi 6 feature called BSS Coloring allows access points to quickly identify devices in their network and ignore devices in other networks. In a crowded Wi-Fi environment, BSS Coloring can dramatically increase throughput and decrease latency, improving overall Wi-Fi efficiency for all users.

Target Wake Time preserves the battery life of battery-powered monitoring devices

Figure 5. Target Wake Time preserves the battery life of battery-powered monitoring devices. Image from here.

Preserving Battery Life of Medical Devices

In-hospital and remote patient monitoring is often performed with battery-powered devices, some of which require a persistent connection to continually send data and some of which can collect data and send updates periodically. In the latter case, a new Wi-Fi 6 feature called Target Wake Time allows devices to schedule times for these periodic uploads. Since Wi-Fi data transmission doesn’t need to be enabled except during these transfers, this extends battery life and reduces Wi-Fi congestion.

Funding Wi-Fi Innovation

As healthcare and other markets continue to push the envelope for improved performance and reliability in increasingly challenging environments, the Wi-Fi development community continues to invest in R&D to meet and exceed these requirements. As a patent pool administrator, Sisvel helps companies that fund this R&D recoup their investment so they can perform more research to deliver even more benefits in future versions.

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Wi-Fi 6: It’s Not Just About You Anymore

Most consumers see successive versions of Wi-Fi from a very me-centric lens - how much further can I sit from the router and still be productive? Or, can I watch 4K videos on my notebook while sitting in the backyard? And, of course, the most recent versions of Wi-Fi let you sit further and download faster than ever before.

In fact, the main goal that the task group which developed the 802.11ax standard (TGax) set for itself was delivering better performances (higher data rates) in highly dense environments (e.g. offices but also campuses, airports and stadium), by improving the efficiency of the whole network and saving battery life of each device.

But there is a lot more. Wi-Fi 6 will greatly influence our everyday lives, both directly and indirectly. One of the areas where Wi-Fi 6 will have a huge impact is the Internet of Things, or IoT. As defined in Wikipedia, IoT “describes physical objects that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.” A sensor in your refrigerator could alert you if your refrigerant starts leaking, or a medical device could continually send data back to a physician for monitoring.

Bringing connectivity to increasingly smarter devices will deliver significant benefits in markets as diverse as factory automation and national defense. And, as explored in an article entitled Wi-Fi 6 is set to change the future of IoT—Here’s why, new features in Wi-Fi 6 significantly enhance Wi-Fi’s role in IoT, not only with faster throughput but, as we said already, also with power-saving features that extend battery life and better performance in areas congested with multiple Wi-Fi and other signals. 

Wi-Fi is also playing an increasingly important role in automobiles, not only for sending operating data back to the factory but also for high-bandwidth media consumption that often is shared among multiple riders. As detailed in an article entitled How WiFi 6 will enable smarter vehicles, Wi-Fi 6 delivers multiple features that enhance automotive Wi-Fi performance, including the ability to partition bandwidth more effectively so multiple riders can enjoy their movies while under-the-hood monitoring devices can continue to communicate effectively. 

The key point is that where earlier generations of Wi-Fi primarily enabled router-to-computer, phone, tablet, or smart TV communications, newer generations allow a much more diverse set of manufacturers to add features that significantly enhance the utility and marketability of their products. That’s why you’ll see Wi-Fi added to an increasing range of products from air conditioners to toilet seats. 

Bringing it back to the me-centric view that we all share, not only does Wi-Fi 6 let you sit further from your router and enjoy 4K videos, it can also alert you that your air-conditioner is ailing before it fails and significantly enhance connectivity in cars, airplanes, conferences, and other congested use scenarios. So, maybe Wi-Fi 6 is all about you, after all. 

Wi-Fi 6 offers many new features that enable or enhance many products in many industries beyond those mentioned above. Check back for additional posts that will describe these features and their underlying technologies.


Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash
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Wi-Fi 6: the Innovation Continues

For many Wi-Fi users, the data in the table below tells them everything they need to know about Wi-Fi 6; It retains the same bandwidth as Wi-Fi 5, adds back the 5GHz frequency band (and further adds the 6 GHz frequency band – the so-called Wi-Fi 6E) , and other innovations boost the maximum data rate to 9.6 GHz. It’s also backward-compatible to previous versions, so your Wi-Fi 6 router will connect to previous generations just fine, though obviously limited to the highest speed afforded by that generation. 

Feature 

Wi-Fi 4

Wi-Fi 5

Wi-Fi 6

Channel bandwidth (MHz)

20, 40

20, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160

20, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160

Frequency bands

2.4 and 5 GHz

5 GHz

2.4 and 5 GHz

Maximum data rate

150 Mbps 

3.5 Gbps

9.6 Gbps

Underlying technology 

IEEE 802.11n

IEEE 802.11ac

IEEE 802.11ax

Table 1. Derived from Wi-Fi Alliance document entitled Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™: A new era for Wi-Fi® 

Now that we know the high-level numbers, let’s explore some of the innovations that deliver this improved performance, plus the other numerous other technological benefits of Wi-Fi 6. For perspective, it’s always useful to assess a technology by considering the environment it works in and the tasks it’s expected to perform. 

As you can see in Figure 1, Wi-Fi originally transmitted lightweight emails and other primarily business-oriented documents to and from computers and notebooks. Over the years, usage has expanded to include a range of mobile, industrial, and entertainment devices and content like video that requires increasingly higher throughput. To meet these new and challenging requirements, Wi-Fi 6 not only needed to be faster, but it also needed to work more efficiently in environments congested with many Wi-Fi routers and clients, to protect the battery life of Wi-Fi clients, and deliver other features. 

11ax brilliant wifi

Figure 1. The expanding role and increasing demands on Wi-Fi technology (from TechSpot). 

Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)

One key new feature in Wi-Fi 6 is Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). As shown in Figure 2, previous Wi-Fi generations communicated serially using fixed bandwidth packets. This wasted bandwidth when the available data was less than the capacity of the packets, and increased latency when serving multiple clients, who all had to wait their turn to transmit or receive packets. 

ofdma

Figure 2. How OFDMA improves throughput, spectrum efficiency, and multi-device traffic capacity (from here). 


As shown at the bottom of Figure 2, OFDMA subdivides the Wi-Fi channel into smaller allocations called “resource units” which can send and retrieve data to multiple clients in parallel, essentially maintaining simultaneous connections with multiple clients. OFDMA also supports data packets of different sizes, so a video-conferencing client can transmit more data faster than a thermometer or medical device. As you can see in the diagram, OFDMA doesn’t increase the bandwidth of the channel, it uses the existing channel more efficiently, which increases overall throughput. 

In addition, OFDMA can also reduce latency with profound results in some applications. For example, one study found that OFDMA reduced upload latency by 99% and download latency by 93% in a classroom environment involving 19 students and one teacher videoconferencing at 3 Mbps each. In this increasingly relevant application, OFDMA made the difference between a  disjointed phone call-from-the-moon experience and a highly interactive learning session. 

 


Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO)

Another Wi-Fi 6 innovation is a further improving in the use of Multi-Input Multiple-output (MIMO) technology, which lets a Wi-Fi access point divide the network resources by the number of antennas on the access point (or AP). Using MIMO, a wireless router with four antennas can send four signals to a device with four antennas, which increases throughput significantly over an access point and device with two antennas. 

As shown on the left in Figure 3, the problem with traditional MIMO is that it can only transmit to a single user at a time, which is why MIMO is sometimes referred to as Single-User MIMO, or SU-MIMO. If that device only has a single antenna, like most mobile phones and tablets, MIMO provides little benefit, as the bandwidth enabled by the extra antennas goes to waste. 

mimo mu mimo
Figure 3. MIMO can only transmit to a single user at a time while MU-MIMO can transmit to multiple users. From here


As the name suggests, multi-user MIMO, or MU-MIMO, allows a single AP to communicate to multiple devices simultaneously, dividing the available bandwidth into individual streams targeting each device. Like OFDMA, MU-MIMO doesn’t create additional bandwidth, it allows existing bandwidth to be used more effectively. 

Note that download MU-MIMO (DL-MU-MIMO) was introduced in Wi-Fi 5, but only addressed up to four terminal devices at the same time and that upload MU-MIMO (UL-MU-MIMO) was not available. Wi-Fi 6 supports up to eight users with up to 4 space-time streams per user (with the total across all users not exceeding 8 space-time streams). and is available for both download and upload, which can dramatically improve performance in high-bandwidth bidirectional applications like videoconferencing.

beamforming technology

Figure 4. Beamforming focuses the Wi-Fi signal towards a specific device, improving speed and range. From here

Interestingly, Wi-Fi 6 uses a technology called Beamforming to direct signals towards specific clients which improves throughput and range (Figure 4). Like DL-MU-MIMO, Beamforming was part of Wi-Fi 5, however Wi-Fi 6 further increases the number of MU-MIMO users which can benefit from this technology. 


1024-QAM

Next up is 1024-QAM. By way of background, quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) is a technique used to transmit information. Wi-Fi 5 uses 256-QAM which carries 8 bits, while Wi-Fi 6 uses 1024-QAM, which uses 10-bits, a bandwidth increase of 25%. One easy-to-understand analogy is a highway that remains the same width but squeezes five lanes into the space previously occupied by four. As shown in Figure 5, if the speed limit remains the same, throughput should increase by 25%. 

wifi 6 data

Figure 5. Wi-Fi 6 uses 1024 - QAM which carries 25% more data. 

BSS Coloring

Another Wi-Fi 6 innovation is BSS coloring, which reduces congestion when multiple access points are available in the same environment. By way of background, each router and set of connected devices is called a Basic Service Set, or BSS. Within a BSS, multiple devices will contend for a channel to the router at any given time. However, when multiple access points operate in the same environment, they will often share the same Wi-Fi channels. 

 To detect when a channel is available, a device within a particular BSS will listen to that channel to detect if any other device is transmitting. In a crowded signal environment, devices from other BSSs could be transmitting on the same channel, falsely indicating that the channel is busy. You see this on the left in Figure 6, where a device attempting to communicate on channel 4 sees activity from two other devices, which may or may not be in the same BSS. 

bss coloring

Figure 6. BSS Coloring reduces contention and improves bandwidth utilization. From here.  


BSS Coloring adds a 6-bit identifier to the signals (not actual colors), so devices can quickly identify devices in their BSS, and ignore devices in other BSSs. On the right in Figure 6, a device in the blue BSS seeking to transmit on channel 4 would ignore signals from the green and orange BSSs, and only detect that the channel was busy if another blue device was transmitting. 

BSS coloring promotes operational efficiency within each BSS and more efficient use of the available Wi-Fi channels. In a stadium, trade-show floor, airport, or other crowded facilities with multiple routers or other access points, BSS Coloring can dramatically increase throughput and decrease latency, improving overall Wi-Fi efficiency for all users. 


Target Wake Time

Finally, Target Wake Time is a feature that allows an access point and device to set a time for the device to wake up and communicate. In the case of battery-powered devices, this can obviously preserve battery life, but it also can reduce network contention by scheduling large data dumps during periods where the network is otherwise underutilized. 

target wake time twt

Figure 7. Target Wake Time allows devices and access points to agree on a transmission time, saving battery life and increasing network efficiency. From here


Funding Innovation

Companies contributing to the Wi-Fi specification have continued to invest hundreds of millions of dollars annually to produce these innovations. This investment has produced a Wi-Fi standard that’s faster, more robust, and includes features that expand Wi-Fi usage into new applications like factory automation, Internet of Things (IoT), healthcare, and many others. However, like any investment, these expenditures only make sense if some revenue is returned. 

Some companies recoup their investment largely via product sales, while others are primarily research organizations that fund their R&D with royalties from the companies that manufacture and sell products that utilize their technologies. As a patent pool administrator, Sisvel helps form and manage patent pools that provide efficient access to the technologies created by their patent owners. 

By working with a patent pool, product developers sign a single contract that delivers access to multiple patented technologies, reducing overall administrative and licensing costs and accelerating time to market. Royalties paid by these licensees enable additional R&D to ensure that Wi-Fi and other technologies continue to meet and anticipate the future needs of current and new users. 

Think about this innovation cycle the next time you use Wi-Fi to watch a 4K HDR movie in your backyard or car, or video conference with colleagues around the globe with pristine quality and minimal latency. Without the advancements funded by royalties, Wi-Fi would be stuck in its 1999 performance envelope, and suitable only for checking email and transferring lightweight office documents. 

Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash
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