11ax is coming…fast

My apologies to the blogosphere community, especially those that follow along with the ramblings of theITrebel. I’ve been quite busy over the end of 2018 (and now into 2019) getting my new podcast off the ground, and subsequently my blogging efforts have been well…..slightly delayed.

My new podcast The Contention Window (@the_cw_podcast on Twitter) can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Music Podcasts, Stitcher, or via RSS feed.

So now that I have that shameless plug out of the way (hey, it is MY blog after all…) lets get to the heart of this blog. While most of you know that the IEEE standards body has yet to fully ratify the 802.11ax amendment, we are slowly starting to see products come to market using this new Wi-Fi 6 (as deemed by the WiFi Alliance) technology. With all of the performance enhancing features coming with 11ax, it’s obvious why we would want to see this technology in all of our devices sooner rather than later. Yet, as always we face the proverbial chicken and egg problem when it comes to the release of the technology. Enterprises have been quick to announce and/or release 11ax access points, with some doing so pretty early last year (Aerohive (AP 630 & 650) & Ruckus (R730)), others coming along more slowly if you will (Aruba (AP 510 series)), and still others not yet at all (Cisco, Fortinet, Extreme). However, much like we saw with 802.11ac, we have 11ax access points out but no clients to use them.

On the first episode of my new podcast, my cohost & I talked about predictions for 2019 and one of mine was that we would see 11ax devices before the end of 2019, but only in bigger devices such as laptops. My thought behind this was that the pricetag of higher end devices would warrant vendors moving forward with rapid adoption of 11ax even though it finds itself in a yet-to-be-ratified state. And low and behold, albeit earlier than I anticipated, at CES 2019 HP announced the upcoming release of the Omen 15 loaded with WiFi 6!!!!! So bingo, my prediction was true…well partially.

It seems as though we might actually see 11ax in mobile devices this year as well. Now before you get all excited, I have no direct knowledge that this will happen. However, Qualcomm announced last year the upcoming availability of their new mobile chipset deemed the WCN3998 that comes equipped with the ability to support 11ax. Might we see the upcoming Samsung Galaxy smartphone adopt said chipset, and thus become our first mobile 11ax device? That remains to be seen, but it certainly does seem likely. Also, it remains to be seen if Apple would follow up (or preempt) such a move by including 11ax support in the upcoming new iPhone (iPhone XI?) and thus push the adoption of 11ax in the home and enterprise much faster than many of us may have imagined.

So for all of you out there that are hesitant to start upgrading to new access points that support 11ax, and have justified that as there are no clients out there to support, that reasoning may be heading out the door quickly. As you can see, 802.11ax is coming….faster than many of us may have anticipated.

Thoughts & comments are always welcome.

-Scott

Title graphic courtesy of Intel.

Special thanks to Sam Clements for locating the Qualcomm chipset article.

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