Archive for the ‘Ruckus Wireless’ Category

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) Fundamentals: What is MU-MIMO?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has ratified five major iterations of the 802.11 Wi-Fi protocol, culminating with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) in 2013. However, despite a significant increase in speed, many organizations still find themselves limited by the Wi-Fi 5 standard, particularly in high-density venues such as stadiums, convention centers, transportation hubs and auditoriums. To meet the challenges of high-density deployments, the IEEE recently introduced the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard – which is the first to bridge the performance gap towards 10 gigabit speeds. With an expected four-fold capacity increase over its Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) predecessor, Wi-Fi 6 is successfully transitioning Wi-Fi from a best-effort endeavor to a deterministic wireless technology that is fast becoming the de-facto medium for internet connectivity.


Indeed, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) deployed in dense device environments supports higher service-level agreements (SLAs) with more concurrently connected users and devices and more diverse usage profiles. This is made possible by a range of technologies that optimize spectral efficiency, increase throughput and reduce power consumption. These include Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), Target Wake Time (TWT), Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), BSS Coloring and 1024-QAM. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at how the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) MU-MIMO mechanism addresses the challenges of dense device environments by adding uplink support for simultaneous (upstream and downstream) client data transmissions.

MU-MIMO describes a set of multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technologies for wireless communication. MU-MIMO was first introduced to the wireless world in 2015 as part of the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard, with the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) protocol adding MU-MIMO support for uplink. MU-MIMO can be used in networks where a single access point (AP) must communicate with multiple clients simultaneously to improve overall efficiency.

MU-MIMO (Wi-Fi 5/802.11ac)

MU-MIMO allows an access point to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. It is part of the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Wave 2 standard. With MU-MIMO, an access point or a wireless router can communicate with multiple network clients at the same time – thus increasing the speed of the data transfer without congestion. A significant advantage of MU-MIMO is its support for transmitting data from an AP to devices in a downlink connection. In addition, MU-MIMO reduces the delay for each end-device receiving the data and enhances the device connectivity between multiple end users.

However, MU-MIMO also has certain limitations. Its functionality works only within the 5GHz band, as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) is defined only in this band. In addition, MU-MIMO works only when transmitting data from an AP to a client in downlink transmissions – and does not operate in reverse. Moreover, MU-MIMO supports only a limited number of simultaneous data streams.

MU-MIMO (Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax)

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) leverages the multi-user version of OFDMA and MU-MIMO for better efficiency of uplink and downlink transmissions. OFDMA allows the transmission of big chunks of data over a single noisy channel. This technique works by splitting a single signal into multiple smaller signals that are transmitted. The combination of OFDMA and MU-MIMO allows Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) to achieve increased capacity, improved coverage and performance in ultra-high-density environments.

UL MU-MIMO is a new key feature introduced with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). By leveraging UL MU-MIMO, multiple clients connected to the access point will be able to send acknowledgement responses (ack) simultaneously, thus saving airtime. This ultimately improves network throughput and efficiency.

Another important Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) feature is its support for 20MHz-only clients. This is particularly beneficial for low-cost IoT devices that require low power and pack very small batteries. In contrast, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mandates 80MHz clients. The Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) protocol enables simultaneous upstream and downstream MU-MIMO data transmissions on the same frequency. This results in higher Wi-Fi performance, especially in higher-density environments such as stadiums, convention centers, transportation hubs and auditoriums.

It should be noted that MU-MIMO and OFDMA provide complementary techniques to concurrently serve multiple users. More specifically, MU-MIMO is most effective at close to mid-range, whereas OFDMA is effective at all ranges, close, medium and far. Moreover, MU-MIMO best serves multiple user with full buffer traffic, while OFDMA is utilized when multiple connections transmit relatively limited amounts of data.

Conclusion

Christian Kim, Senior Analyst IoT, Connectivity and Telecom Electronics at IHS Markit, estimates that total Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) device shipments will increase to 58 million units in 2021. Meanwhile, IDC sees Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) deployments ramping significantly in 2019 and becoming the dominant enterprise Wi-Fi standard by 2021. This is because the new Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard offers up to a four-fold capacity increase over its Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Wave 2 predecessor.

With Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), multiple APs deployed in dense device environments can collectively deliver required quality-of-service (QoS) to more clients with more diverse usage profiles. This is made possible by a range of technologies, such as the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) iteration of MU-MIMO, which enables simultaneous MU-MIMO data transmissions on the same frequency. From our perspective, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is playing a critical role in helping Wi-Fi evolve in to a collision-free, deterministic wireless technology that dramatically increases aggregate network throughput to address high-density venues and beyond. Last, but certainly not least, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access points are also expected to enhance the overall Wi-Fi experience by providing tangible performance benefits for legacy wireless devices.

View the original press release at The Ruckus Room.

The top 3 drivers of wireless convergence in the enterprise

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

According to IDC, worldwide IoT market spend will increase to $1.1 trillion in 2021, while the installed base of IoT endpoints is expected to reach over 36 billion units by the end of the same year. However, the heterogeneous nature of the IoT has created multiple complexities for deployments in the enterprise. While the price of sensors has trended downward over the years, there is now a significant cost associated with building out multiple networks to support endpoint communication. Moreover, enterprises are contending with the steep, long-term cost of managing, securing and maintaining separate networks for disparate wireless protocols. Although ultimately unsustainable, the above-mentioned paradigm is serving as an unintended catalyst for the trend of wireless convergence in the enterprise. Let’s explore this concept in detail below.

1) Multiple Wireless Radio Technologies

Wi-Fi isn’t always the default choice for companies marketing IoT devices such as smart door locks or wearable staff alert buttons. This can be attributed to a range of factors such as power constraints, the demand for more compact form factors and relatively limited data transfers (no need for a big data pipe). Consequently, there are a diverse number of radio types that are being deployed in the enterprise IoT space. In addition to Wi-Fi, these include BLE, Zigbee, and LoRa. These deployments often result in the creation of separate wireless networks, driving up TCO due to redundant wiring, power, and management tools.

2) The Demand for Unified Management

The unified management of wired (LAN) and wireless (WLAN) networks has become an important selling point over the past decade. This is because administrators are notoriously unforgiving to vendors that force them to work with a separate management system for each network element. It simply isn’t cost effective to have one management system for switches, another for access points and yet more for additional wireless IoT endpoints. The lack of appetite for disparate management systems – whether for switches, APs or security – has long been a catalyst for network vendor consolidation. Put simply, IT departments are no longer willing to work with multiple management systems and strongly prefer vendors that provide a unified pane of glass for network management.

3) Deployment Issues: Lack of Physical Space

With a separate network for each wireless IoT protocol, enterprises are rapidly running out of physical real-estate to house additional network components. This is because each disparate network requires space to house an IoT gateway, a separate firewall, as well as switches, powering and cable infrastructure. A lack of physical space poses a significant barrier to adoption – except for those with the most to gain or the most to lose.

The Solution: The Converged Access Point

Unifying multiple wireless protocols – such as BLE, Zigbee and LoRa – within a single AP enables IT administrators to save physical space and streamline secure device onboarding. Moreover, a converged AP allows administrators to more easily view, manage and secure their entire wireless infrastructure with a single pane of glass. This facilitates network automation, the generation of actionable analytics and the creation of custom dashboards with open APIs.

From our perspective, the converged access point is the antithesis of the trend towards ‘commoditized’ APs, allowing support for new services and potentially lucrative revenue streams. The once humble access point is becoming a hotbed of new and exciting innovation, with more and more technologies being built directly into the AP. For example, the R730 packs embedded Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Zigbee radios, along with support for IoT modules that can accommodate additional physical layer protocols such as LoRa.

Conclusion

Disparate wireless IoT networks such as BLE, Zigbee and LoRa are expensive to deploy, operate, secure and manage. Unifying multiple wireless protocols within a single AP allows IT administrators to save physical space and streamline secure device onboarding. In addition, a converged AP allows administrators to more easily view, manage and secure their entire wireless infrastructure with a single management console. However, it is important to emphasize that incorporating non-Wi-Fi standards into a conventional ‘Wi-Fi only’ AP creates a slew of technological challenges that range from coexistence interference to traffic coordination. This is a topic we’ll explore in-depth in a future blog post.

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

Connect customers to your brand with personalized guest Wi-Fi

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Small businesses are constantly striving to delight their customers. Providing customers with good Wi-Fi connectivity goes a long way—be it in a restaurant, retail store or a hotel. Guest Wi-Fi features play a huge role in providing seamless Wi-Fi access to customers.

Not all Wi-Fi vendors offer guest Wi-Fi features. Of the ones that offer them, not all are the same. Ruckus is excited to announce that with the latest software update, a gamut of customization options boosts an already strong set of Ruckus Unleashed guest Wi-Fi features.

Guest Wi-Fi features

Guest Wi-Fi features enable small businesses to create guest-specific Wi-Fi networks and provide guests easy and secure ways to access Wi-Fi in a personalized manner. Let us walk through some guest Wi-Fi features that Ruckus Unleashed offers:

  • Create special Wi-Fi network(s) dedicated for guests.
  • Provide access to the special guest Wi-Fi network(s) through the guest’s Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft or WeChat credentials.
  • Provide access to the special guest Wi-Fi network(s) with email- or a text message-based guest pass.
  • Onboard guest devices with zero-IT device registration.
  • Secure guest data with encryption.
  • Personalize the guest login to the Wi-Fi network through a captive portal.

With the latest launch, you can modify a range of fields on the captive portal to provide customers an easy and personalized experience. The following pictures show all the changes one can make on the captive portal.

Here is a sample of a customized captive portal for a coffee shop.

Even with all these features, we strive to make it easy to manage Ruckus Unleashed networks. It is very easy to set up the personalized guest Wi-Fi. Anyone can instantly create personalized guest networks just with few taps on their phone through the Ruckus Unleashed mobile app.

Ruckus Unleashed™ delivers affordable Wi-Fi using the same APs we deploy for our largest customers that support enterprise-class features such as BeamFlex+™ and SmartMesh to deliver higher speeds and reliable coverage.

To learn more about Ruckus Unleashed please contact our sales team by web, email or call us 01473 281 211.

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

The Evolution of Wi-Fi 6: Part 6

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

In part five of this series, we discussed the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) for new and legacy devices, as well as the expected Wi-Fi feature, set arriving in Wave 1 and Wave 2. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Wi-Fi Alliance certification and how Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) will benefit high-density wireless deployments in locations such as stadiums, convention centers, MDUs and student dormitories.

Wi-Fi Alliance Certification

Wi-Fi Alliance certification of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is expected in mid to late 2019, with the standard due to be publicly ratified and released sometime in late 2019 or early 2020. It should be noted that Wi-Fi 6 devices presented at CES 2018 clocked in at a top speed of 11 gigabits per second. Commercial activity around Wi-Fi 6 has already started, with Ruckus and other companies announcing Wi-Fi 6 APs. As we’ve reiterated throughout this series, Wi-Fi 6 will bring about a profound change in the Wi-Fi industry with faster speeds, increased range and improved performance.

Wi-Fi 6 Device Rollouts

While there aren’t any certifiable Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) clients on the market today, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AP residential router and carrier gateway announcements have already kicked off, with various companies announcing Wi-Fi 6 products throughout late 2017 and 2018. Moreover, several companies have begun shipping Wi-Fi 6 APs, including Ruckus, which was the first to market with the industry’s first 8×8 5g+ 4 x 4 2.4 G Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) access point.

Wi-Fi 6 Use Cases: Stadiums and Convention Centers

As we noted earlier, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technology will benefit a wide range of wireless deployments. However, the new standard is particularly useful for high-density environments in which many users and devices are competing for limited spectrum. Examples include large public venues such as stadiums and convention centers. Indeed, stadiums are increasingly offering fast and ubiquitous Wi-Fi to improve fan or attendee experiences, bolster customer interaction and create value-added services (VAS) such as streaming instant replays on fan devices and allowing attendees to order food from their seats.

It should be noted that stadiums and convention centers typically host tens of thousands of users, many of who attempt to connect to Wi-Fi simultaneously. This scenario poses unique scale and density challenges for access points. Fortunately, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) advancements around OFDMA, 1024-QAM, BSS Coloring and the faster PHY rates will make it easier for large public venue owners to create new business opportunities by offering enhanced services to guests.

Wi-Fi 6 Use Cases: Transportation Hubs and Stations

Similarly, transportation hubs and stations offer public Wi-Fi to passengers and shoppers. Like stadiums, transportation hubs can host tens of thousands of users and devices that attempt to connect to the network simultaneously. However, transportation hubs face additional unique challenges posed by transient devices. These devices aren’t necessarily connecting to the Wi-Fi network, although they still send management traffic and contribute to spectrum congestion. Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) advancements such as OFDMA and BSS Coloring provide tools to manage the above-mentioned challenge.

Wi-Fi 6 Use Cases: MDUs, Dormitories & Classrooms

Multiple Dwelling Units (MDUs) and university dormitories are often challenged by hundreds of users competing for limited wireless spectrum to stream 4K video or play eSports. This is also the case for libraries, auditoriums, lecture halls and student union buildings. In addition, primary K-12 education trends such as video-based learning, one-to-one computing, connected classrooms and a mass deployment of IoT devices have created an airtime capacity crisis that stresses network reliability.

Wi-Fi 6 Use Cases: IoT and Smart City Deployments

Like stadiums and transportation hubs, IoT and smart city deployments face a wide variety of connectivity challenges. For example, there may be a high volume of devices (sensors) at a manufacturing site that attempt to communicate simultaneously with a limited number of access points. Or, a small number of devices may be idle and programmed to ‘phone home’ once a day. This is precisely why the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11x) standard features a power saving feature known as target wake time (TWT), which enables devices to go into deep sleep mode and turn on their transmitter at predefined intervals to prolong field time without maintenance.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is designed for high-density connectivity and offers up to a fourfold capacity increase over its Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) predecessor. With Wi-Fi 6, multiple APs deployed in dense device environments can collectively deliver required quality of service to more clients with more diverse usage profiles. This is made possible by a range of technologies such as OFDMA, MU-MIMO with eight uplinks and eight down links, target wake time (TWT), 1024-QAM, Long OFDM Signal and BSS Coloring. As we discussed in this series, these technologies are all playing a critical role in helping Wi-Fi evolve into a collision free deterministic wireless technology. Moreover, the IEE is looking to integrate future iterations of the above-mentioned mechanisms into additional wireless standards to support the future of Wi-Fi and beyond.

To view the original post at The Ruckus Room.

The Evolution of Wi-Fi 6: Part 5

Friday, March 8th, 2019

In part four of this series, we explored a range of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) features, including target wake time (TWT), 1024-QAM and Long OFDM Signal. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) for new and legacy devices, as well as the expected feature set arriving in Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) Wave 1 and Wave 2.

Wi-Fi 6: Current and legacy devices

Although there are relatively few Wi-Fi 6 devices (802.11ax) on the market today (90% of the devices of are still Wi-Fi 5), it is important to note that the industry faced a similar situation when Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) was first introduced. From our perspective, there are several reasons to begin moving to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) as soon as possible.

Firstly, a Wi-Fi 6 access point (AP) can serve new Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) devices, along with legacy Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) devices. Secondly, a number of manufacturers are already selling Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) clients. Thirdly, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ac) and legacy clients can co-exist just like Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n). Last, but certainly not least, both Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and non-Wi-Fi 6 clients benefit from Wi-Fi 6 technologies.

For example, Wi-Fi 6 clients are more efficient, thereby freeing up more spectrum for Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) devices. This is perhaps analogous to a carpool lane, in which the first two lanes are for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) devices. More specifically, let’s say 50% of the devices are Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and 50% are Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). We put all the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) devices in the carpool lane, allowing them to operate more efficiently. Concurrently, the remaining Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) clients benefit because we took half the cars from all the lanes – which frees up contention for the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) devices.

This provides higher throughput and performance for networks, with beacon intervals occurring every 100 milliseconds. So, how does this work? Well, the AP ‘says’ that it will use its first 40 milliseconds of the beacon interval for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) devices – while deterministically ‘telling’ all legacy devices to remain silent for the first 40 milliseconds (these are the two carpool lanes). The AP subsequently implements scheduled access for Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) devices, which get served, go to sleep and vacate the medium, all without ‘speaking’ for the remaining 60% of the time. Put simply, wireless access is improved for all types of devices, with Wi-Fi 6 clients using the fast lanes, while Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) devices have less clients to contend with. Put succinctly, more efficiency equals more airtime.

Wi-Fi 6: Wave 1 and Wave 2

As we discussed earlier in this series, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) features a range of new technologies to optimize spectrum efficiency including OFDMA, MU-MIMO, Long OFDM signal, 1024-QAM, BSS Coloring and Target Wake Time (TWT). Like its Wi-Fi 5 predecessor, Wi-Fi 6 will be rolled out in two ‘waves,’ although the exact feature split isn’t yet finalized. Nevertheless, Wave 1 is expected to feature DL and UL OFDMA, DL MU-MIMO and Target Wake Time (TWT). Meanwhile, Wave 2 is likely to feature UL MU-MIMO, spatial reuse using BSS Coloring, along with support for 160 Mhz and 6 GHz. Moreover, the FCC is still working on finalizing the release of the 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum, which will open 1.2 GHz of unlicensed space.

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

New e-book links poor network access security to data breach risk

Friday, March 8th, 2019

Ruckus has just published a new e-book titled “Seven Network Access Security Risks—and How They Can Lead to a Data Breach.” It focuses on faulty network access security as a risk area that can lead to data compromise. As the title implies, this e-book outlines seven distinct risk areas that IT organizations should be aware of, especially when it comes to providing connectivity for BYOD and guest users.

As detailed in a previous Ruckus blog, “What’s wrong with PSKs and MAC authentication for BYOD?”, default methods of network onboarding and authentication have serious security flaws that can leave you open to data compromise. These security holes get less attention that more high-profile threats like ransomware, but the dangers are still very real. Sometimes it’s the attack surface that you aren’t thinking about that attackers seek to exploit.

Linking IT security risk areas to the potential for a data breach

Sometimes the link between a threat vector and the risk of data compromise is obvious. Keylogging malware tracks a user’s every keystroke, including when they type in their username and password for cloud-based business applications. Email phishing attacks compromise credit card numbers or other sensitive data by tricking users into entering them into a website that spoofs a legitimate site. Misconfigured cloud storage can leave sensitive data just hanging out there on the web for attackers to steal. All of those are obvious ways that attackers can get at your data.

Network access security is a category where the linkages may be less obvious. The point of the new e-book is to help clarify the connection between this risk area and a potential breach. It’s a highly accessible way to increase your knowledge of this often-overlooked area of the IT security domain—a five-minute read covering an underestimated attack surface in modern IT environments. This document can help you keep other stakeholders in your organization informed about the risks as well, so feel free to pass it along. We should emphasize that no registration is required to access the e-book—just read and enjoy.

Here’s just a taste of one of the seven ways that poor network access security maps to data compromise. Risk area number four in the e-book is that without proper controls in place, users can get broader access to network resources than is appropriate. Proper data governance requires access to resources on a need-to-know basis. You might be wondering what would constitute proper controls in this context—you’ll find the answer to that in the e-book. Another recent Ruckus blog, titled “Eastern Europe bank hack highlights the need for network access security,” also provides useful background on this aspect of secure access.

More thoughts on data compromise

We blogged last year about the definition of a data breach. Ten or fifteen years ago data breach events were much less common than they are today. These days, it seems as if major breaches occur all the time. Krebs on Security and CyberScoop are two great websites to follow if you are interested in this topic.

Not every malicious attack represents an attempt to steal sensitive data—for example, crypto-mining malware seeks to steal computing resources for monetary gain. A denial of service attack tries to bring down a system, website or network. Likewise, not every data breach is caused by malicious activity. Sometimes data compromise happens due to human error. But preventing data breaches caused by malicious attackers is the primary driver of a large portion of the IT security industry.

Dark Reading reported recently on a security breach study from Risk Based Security that found 2018 was the second most active year on record in terms of the number of data breach events. They counted over 6,500 breaches in 2018, the large majority categorized as “hacking.” Several of the network access security risks outlined in the new Ruckus e-book would seem to fall into this category—although a lot of other attack scenarios would also fit that description.

Conclusion

If you would like to dive deeper into risk areas related to network access security, you can have a look at the recent ESG white paper “Does Your Method for BYOD Onboarding Compromise Network Security?” You can access this in the form of a dynamic website or go straight to the PDF version. When you are ready to address some of the security issues described in the e-book and the white paper, Ruckus Cloudpath Enrollment System is definitely worth a look. It’s our SaaS/software for secure network onboarding, and it’s a great way to shore up your defenses with strong network access security.

View the original post at The Ruckus Room.

The Evolution of Wi-Fi 6: Part 4

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

In part three of this series, we took an in-depth look at OFDMA, MU-MIMO and BSS Coloring. In this blog post, we’ll explore target wake time (TWT), 1024-QAM and Long OFDM Signal.

Target Wake Time (TWT) and Wi-Fi 6

Target wake time (TWT) is another mechanism introduced in the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11x) standard. Essentially, TWT allows devices to deterministically negotiate when and how often they wake up to send or receive data. TWT increases device sleep time and in turn, substantially improves battery life, a feature that is especially important for IoT devices. In addition to saving power on the client device side, TWT enables wireless access points (APs) and devices to negotiate and find specific times to access the medium. This helps optimize spectral efficiency by reducing contention and overlap between users.

1024-QAM & the Need for Speed

Although bolstering spectral efficiency is one of the defining features of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), an additional speed boost facilitated by 1024-QAM is obviously a nice bonus. Quadrature amplitude modulation, or QAM, uses both phase and amplitude of an RF signal to represent data bits. As we mentioned above, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) introduces 1024-QAM, along with new modulation and coding schemes (MCS). These define higher data rates that bolster throughput and enable 25% higher capacity with 10 bits per symbol versus 8 bits in 256-QAM, the latter of which is supported by Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac). Put simply, more bits equal more data, making the (payload) delivery of data more efficient.

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) also introduces two new modulation coding schemes: MCS 10 and MCS 11. Both will likely be optional. It should be noted that 1024-QAM can only be used with 242 subcarrier resource units (RUs) or larger. This means that at least a full 20 MHz channel will be required for 1024-QAM.

Long OFDM Signal & Outdoor APs

When indoor wireless devices transmit a signal, the RF signal reaches the destination receiver directly, or via rapid reflections of walls ceilings and other obstacles. This is referred to as multipath. The OFDM symbol was originally designed with indoor Wi-Fi in mind, with multipath reflected RF signals expected to reach the receiver very quickly. The original OFDM symbol was composed of guard intervals followed by a data portion, then another guard interval and then another data portion, area and so forth. The guard interval was either 0.4 or 0.8 microseconds – with the useful OFDM data portion set at 3.2 microseconds.

With outdoor Wi-Fi, the guard interval needs to be increased to compensate for extended or distant reflections. As such, Wi-Fi 6 introduces Long Signal OFDM, which allows up to a 3.2 microsecond guard interval with the data packet area being increased 4x, or up to 12.8 microseconds. This offers a much broader multipath tolerance, reduces overhead and bolsters throughput, thereby making outdoor Wi-Fi more reliable and dependable.

More GHz For the IoT

As we discussed in part one of this series, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) will support both 2.4 GHz (for the IoT) and 5 GHz, as opposed to Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), which only supported the latter. Moreover, the FCC is slated to open the 6 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi 6 in 2019, thereby creating more than one GHz of new unlicensed spectrum. This is an important development, as the amount of Wi-Fi spectrum in the United States has remained essentially unchanged for more than a decade. From our perspective, the combination of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and the newly opened 6 GHz spectrum has the potential to fuel a perfect storm of disruption for the wireless industry.

Click here to view the original post by The Ruckus Room.

5 Issues that impact Wi-Fi performance in dense environments

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Worldwide data and video traffic are growing at double-digit rates. This increase is driven by connected devices and applications like 4K video streaming, VR/AR and eSports. Adding to the complexity of this environment impacting Wi-Fi performance are diversifying device categories and apps, such as headless IoT devices, video and voice-over-Wi-Fi.

Moreover, the congestion of people, devices and bandwidth-hungry apps makes for numerous real-world challenges that conventional wireless technology has difficulty overcoming, especially in dense environments. Let’s take a closer look at some of these challenges below.

Overloaded network

Wi-Fi antennas often radiate signals – like a lightbulb radiates light – in all directions. This can create misdirected and wasted radio energy.

The solution? Ruckus BeamFlex+ technology, which enables the antenna system within a Ruckus access point (AP) to dynamically sense and optimize for its environment. The antenna system also significantly bolsters range and Wi-Fi performance by mitigating radio interference, as well as noise and wireless performance issues.

Too many devices

All access points use ‘lanes’ (radio channels) to transmit and receive traffic. However, a specific lane can become congested, leaving an AP unable to determine if other lanes are free to accommodate wireless traffic.

The solution? Ruckus ChannelFly dynamic channel management, which helps our APs boost Wi-Fi performance by dynamically (automatically) switching a client from a crowded channel to a less congested one.

Wasted radio energy

Excessive management traffic typically saturates available Wi-Fi spectrum in dense Wi-Fi environments. This results in reduced connectivity and low per-client throughput.

The solution? Ruckus Airtime Decongestion, which enables APs to more selectively respond to clients. This dramatically increases overall network efficiency for higher airtime utilization and delivers a more optimized user experience.

Channel congestion

APs are frequently overloaded with an uneven client load in dense network environments. This inefficient utilization of network capacity results in a sub-optimal client-to-AP link quality and lower throughput for clients.

The solution? Ruckus Network Capacity Utilization, which employs real-time learning techniques to associate clients with APs that offer higher link quality and capacity. This mechanism facilitates higher overall network capacity and higher per-client throughput.

Unwanted management traffic

Thousands of non-connecting ‘transient’ devices – often in transport hubs – frequently create unwanted management traffic that negatively impacts Wi-Fi performance.

The solution? Ruckus Transient Client Management, which maintains throughput levels for priority clients in high transient-client environments by delaying AP association with low-priority transient clients.

TO speak to someone about your wireless projects, please get in touch by completing a Contact Form, emailing sales@net-ctrl.com or calling on 01473 281 211.

The evolution of Wi-Fi 6: part 3

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

In part two of this series, we explored the basics of MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and 1024-QAM. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Wi-Fi speeds, along with an in-depth look at OFDMA, MU-MIMO and BSS Coloring.

Theoretical peak speeds vs. network capacity and efficiency

As we’ve emphasized throughout this series, the 802.11 standard has rapidly and significantly evolved over the past two decades. For example, wireless LANs once focused on achieving theoretical peak speeds. With the advent of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), the emphasis has shifted to overall network capacity and efficiency, in addition to throughput speeds. As the latest iteration of 802.11, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is expected to become prevalent in ultra-dense environments such as transport hubs, urban apartment complexes, college campuses, concert venues and sports stadiums. These are all locations where many clients routinely access the internet over Wi-Fi, as well as share UHD content and stream 4K video.

Currently, in advanced development, the IEEE 802.11ax standard is slated to be released in 2019. It is worth noting that the maximum theoretical speed of Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) was 150 megabits per second, per stream. Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) increased this to a theoretical speed of 866 megabits per second, per stream, which is considered a six-fold jump. Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) supports maximum speeds of up to 1201 megabits per second. Although Wi-Fi 6 is certainly faster than its predecessor, it is not the six-fold increase seen with the release of Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac).

Wi-Fi 6: 4x increase in throughput

More specifically, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is expected to boast a 4x increase in throughput for the average user. This is primarily due to more efficient spectrum utilization and various improvements for dense deployments. Clearly, speed is not the most important issue, as the maximum rates are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to real-world performance. These can vary widely based on a range of obstacles, other signals in the air, multipath reflections and the capabilities of both access points and client devices.

To address these issues, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) aims to improve efficiency by delivering consistently higher real-world speeds than Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 ac). As we noted in part three of this series, W-Fi 6 introduces orthogonal frequency-division multiple access or OFDMA. The mechanism – which is (4G) LTE-proven – provides more efficient access for users. Essentially, OFDMA technology allows multiple users with varying bandwidth needs to be served simultaneously by dividing each wireless channel into multiple sub-channels. This allows multiple clients to talk to the AP – simultaneously – over a single-channel (depending on the channel size). More specifically: 9 clients over a 20 MHz channel, 18 over a 40 MHz channel, and 37 over an 80 MHz channel. With multiple smaller channels, the AP can offer flexible bandwidth allocation to each device based on specific data requirements, thereby increasing overall network performance. It should be noted that smaller sub-channels are known as Resource Units (RU) or RU tones. The minimum size of one RU is 26 tones or subcarriers, which equals approximately 2 MHz. In practical terms, this means a 20 MHz channel can serve up to 9 users.

Working in tandem: OFDMA & MU-MIMO

OFDMA works in tandem with MU-MIMO, the latter of which helps APs address multiple devices simultaneously, instead of one at a time. From a precise chronological perspective, MU-MIMO was introduced as part of Wi-Fi 5 (802.11n), but only supported the mechanism in downlink mode. In contrast, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) supports up to 8×8 MU-MIMO in both downlink and uplink modes – allowing APs to serve up to 8 users simultaneously. It is important to understand that MU-MIMO also benefits the performance of legacy devices such as those designed to support Wi-Fi 5 (Wave 2) devices.

BSS Coloring

Another important Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) feature is Basic Service Set (BSS) Coloring, which can perhaps best be described as a six-bit identifier attached to each PHY header that indicates the origin of the wireless LAN. Since Wi-Fi is a half-duplex medium – meaning that only one radio can transmit on a frequency domain or channel at any given time – Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) will defer transmission if it ‘hears’ the PHY preamble transmission of any Wi-Fi 6 radio at a signal detect or SD threshold of four decibels or greater. This medium contention overhead is a major issue in high-density venues such as a stadium or large conference rooms due to the sheer number of APs and clients.

Unnecessary medium contention is referred to as overlapping basic service sets (OBSS), or co-channel interference (CCI). Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) addresses this challenge by improving spatial reuse, which is often referred to as BSS Coloring. This mechanism was initially introduced as part of 802.11ah to address medium contention overhead due to OBSS. It assigns a different colour, a number between 0 and 63, which is added to the PHY header of the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) frame to each BSS in an environment. With BSS colouring, an AP can identify which frames are coming from other networks – and ignore them if they are below a certain threshold of weakness to prevent interference. This helps avoid unnecessary wireless slowdowns.

View the original blog post by The Ruckus Room.

Top 6 trends driving Trusted Digital Identities in 2019

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

What are the market dynamics and trends that will shape the digital identity industry in 2019? Data breaches have become more common in recent years with organizations suffering at least two or three per year, costing them an average of $3.86 million. At the same time, consumers have become more demanding than ever, which means that service providers are under incredible pressure to deliver digital services that are not only secure, but also provide frictionless user experiences.


The existence of Trusted Digital Identities will be a major factor in meeting those demands and here are six reasons why

1. Ongoing pressure across industry for data privacy regulations

There has been a significant raise in complaints of social media user data misuse in 2018. Facebook in particular made headlines last year with numerous high-profile data breaches including the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Customer and regulator concern about how data can be used for monetization and how identities can easily be stolen, replicated, curated and morphed for fraud are at risk of creating a climate for increased regulation as well as different regulation alignments in different countries.

Consumers are reclaiming data ownership and having increased digital interactions make them more concerned than ever about data privacy and identity theft. We will experience continuing pressure across industries for having more data protection regulations such as GDPR across the globe.

2. AI and machine learning as a double-edge sword

According to the Breach Level Index, almost 15 billion data records have been exposed since 2013. In the first half of 2018, more than 25 million records were compromised every day – that’s 291 records every second. These include medical, credit card or financial data and other personally identifiable information. Although there are many AI and machine learning techniques in place working to prevent data breaches, they will still happen as fraudsters are leveraging the same technologies we use to prevent them.

For example, thanks to advances in AI and machine learning chatbots can now be easily exploited by hackers to discover new vulnerabilities in real time in order to deceive users into clicking dubious links and handing over sensitive information. Malicious chatbots look exactly like the regular ones, but instead of providing genuinely useful information, they will ask you for your personal information, which will be used by hackers for malicious purposes.

On the more positive side, big data and AI lead to vast opportunities to enable trust and collaboration across the ecosystem of technology enablers, service providers and end users to prevent attacks. We expect an increase in the use of AI and machine learning technologies in strengthening identity verification accuracy and offering an increase in trust.

3. Protecting sensitive data in mobile devices

As more than 52% of global web traffic comes from mobile devices, it is not a surprise that fraudsters are also migrating to this platform. Research shows that 48% of phishing attacks take place on mobile and users are three times more likely to get exposed from their mobile rather than from their desktop.

Sensitive data stored in our mobile devices can be compromised through applications, the mobile network and the device itself. To ensure good positioning in this mobile economy, service providers need to ensure customer trust and data protection. Having a trusted digital identity system in place proves essential for ensuring this.

4. Monetization of mobile identity

The monetization of mobile identity will also take a new focus in 2019, by combining several attributes capable of adapting to local regulations and service providers’ enrolment requirements.

Investments in mobile technologies that capture, verify and authenticate identities based on a combination of identifiable attributes, will be a strategic step for service providers to enable security, trust and seamless end-user experience.

Furthermore, the capacity and flexibility of ensuring remote document verification will present an advantage for service providers allowing them to capture and verify customer information. Plus, they will be able to maximize their reach via mobile devices at the same time.

5. Biometrics will continue to grow

The industry keeps exploring new forms of physical and behavioural biometrics to ensure secure authentication via mobile devices across all channels. The combination of technology innovation with convenience and security will bring us closer to a “plug and play” solution, while standards like the FIDO Alliance and Mobile Connect will provide us with more options to get there.

Biometrics will continue to go mainstream and the use of multiple biometrics such as voice, face or behavioural biometrics will enable not only multi-factor authentication, but also more security with less friction.

6. Passwords will become a thing of the past

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, 81% of data breaches involve weak, default, or stolen passwords. Furthermore, many customers claim that they are getting frustrated when creating new user IDs and passwords for digital services and tend to select one of the 25 easy to remember passwords for their accounts. Consumers no longer trust password-based single-factor authentication and are willing to shift to password-free authentication methods. There is a big opportunity here, especially for those that can offer a biometric alternative.

Banks have already started providing new means for customer authentication when making payments with adopting EMV contactless payment cards with fingerprint authentication which could allow us to pay for anything without needing a PIN code or signature. Online, organizations are exploring the potential of behavioural biometrics, which can analyze the unique way in which you type on a keyboard or even how you move your mouse.

Trusted Digital Identity services are paramount for each step of the customer journey, from onboarding through to authentication to access new services. For more information, please call our team on 01473 281 211 or email sales@net-ctrl.com. Alternatively, you can submit a Contact Form.

View the original post by Gemalto.