Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are prominent in Wi-Fi's design roadmap in 2022, followed by the automated frequency coordination (AFC) system.
According to Wi-Fi Alliance, the number of Wi-Fi devices in use will reach nearly 18 billion in 2022. The network of companies that manages the Wi-Fi design ecosystem also forecasts 4.4 billion devices to be shipped this year.
For the year 2022, Wi-Fi Alliance has listed four major trends outlined below.
Wi-Fi, now widely acknowledged as a foundation technology for the Internet of Things (IoT) applications, is reinforcing its position with Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, which employ orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) to improve performance in dense environments. Then, there is target wake time (TWT) technology, which reduces battery consumption and makes Wi-Fi a suitable choice for sensor-based devices.
Figure 1 Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E reinforce Wi-Fi as a premier channel for IoT applications. Source: Qualcomm
Add to this the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED HaLow, which operates in the sub-1 GHz band and enables long-range and low-power connectivity while providing a robust connection in challenging Wi-Fi environments. It facilitates a variety of power-efficient IoT use cases in retail, agriculture, healthcare, smart home, and smart city environments.
Wi-Fi 6 reached 50% market adoption more quickly than previous Wi-Fi generations, according to Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are now being introduced for PCs, notebooks and mesh systems while home networking, automotive and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) applications are next in line.
Figure 2 More than 350 million Wi-Fi 6E devices will enter the market in 2022. Source: Wi-Fi Alliance
Wi-Fi Alliance also projects that more Wi-Fi 6E access points will be deployed in home networks to meet the needs of bandwidth-intensive and latency-sensitive applications. Wi-Fi 6E home gateways and access points are likely to become part of the subscription plans offered by smart home and smart building service providers.
The AFC systems maximize spectrum access in the 6 GHz frequency band, and they have already been adopted in Canada and the United States. Wi-Fi Alliance has released specifications and test plans for AFC system implementation, and more than a dozen AFC service providers have expressed interest.
Figure 3 The AFC framework will continue to be developed in 2022. Source: Broadcom
The growing use of video conferencing, voice-over-IP services, X Reality (XR) applications, and high definition (HD) streaming in home and enterprise environments has placed new strains on Wi-Fi networks. That inevitably calls for a new level of network optimization.
Here, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Optimized Connectivity improves mobility when roaming within and across Wi-Fi networks and between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Next, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED QoS Management ensures robust service delivery and a high-quality Wi-Fi user experience. Then, there are Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements, which help service providers and network managers better manage complex Wi-Fi networks.
In 2022, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint will raise the bar for speed, security, and reliability to better manage Wi-Fi deployments in dense, city, and public areas.
This article was originally published on EDN.
Majeed Ahmad, Editor-in-Chief of EDN and Planet Analog, has covered the electronics design industry for more than two decades.