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The wait is finally over! As anticipated Wi-Fi Alliance®  announced Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ certification program in September. The certification program is a big step in making sure the devices and access points interoperate and provide all the benefits of Wi-Fi 6. Congratulations to our partners like Broadcom, Marvel and Intel who are part of the certification test bed!

Why is Wi-Fi 6 important?

Everyone agreed in 2018 and 2019 that Wi-Fi 6 is the biggest leap forward in wireless since the advent of Wi-Fi itself. Yet for over a year the number of devices and access points supporting Wi-Fi 6 has been extremely thin both in home Wi-Fi and enterprise Wi-Fi. The certification program will provide the boost needed for everyone to start adopting Wi-Fi 6. This is extremely exciting for consumers and enterprises alike as Wi-Fi 6 brings a lot of advantages based on technology components shown in Fig 1:

  • Higher Bandwidth for applications like video on-demand, physical security applications, IoT — For anyone who has used video conferencing over Wi-Fi and experienced the lag at home or in office this will be a game changing experience.
  • Support for large number of devices on the same access point — Better support for higher density in home or at places like airports, hotels, conference centers, stadium events.
  • Lower latency for applications that need it like video conferencing
  • Improved battery life in Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as Internet of Things.
  • Better security with WPA3™
Fig 1. Functional Components of Wi-Fi 6

What does it mean for you?

At Benison Technologies we are excited about the release of the certification program as our partners and OEM customers can now get the foremost industry recognition for the engineering investments they have made in Wi-Fi 6. Whether you are creating an innovative access point, latest consumer device with Wi-Fi or IoT device there are three sets of challenges you will face:

  1. Working with the latest Wi-Fi 6 chipsets from Broadcom and Marvell — Benison has built expertise in Broadcom BCM 4375 and Marvel 88W9064 working directly with the chipset vendors as well as with our customers.
  2. Design considerations for it with open source projects — Below we are sharing some of the design decisions/considerations that are critical as you look at Wi-Fi 6 in your roadmap.
  3. Access to components — We wrote about how Benison’s participation in Digi-Key Design Service Provider Program can help OEMs and SIs get access to latest components and development kits including for Wi-Fi 6.

Design Considerations for Wi-Fi 6 with open source projects:

Wireless AP OEMs using OpenWRT/prplMesh

OEMs will need to make sure their product portfolio provides the best selection for home and/or enterprise access points to compete. Some of the decisions that need to be made are:

  1. What strategy for uplink bandwidth vs downlink bandwidth will we use for each product in the portfolio e.g. how many radios, channels, channel bonding for uplink?
  2. How will we test interoperability with downstream clients as well as other APs?
  3. How will we port the latest bug fixes for Wi-fi device drives (bc43xx, iwlwifi, mwlwifi), firmware or packages for SoCs, or wpa3 from mainline linux kernel to OpenWRT/prplMesh? E.g. the latest release of OpenWRT is from July 2019 which is 4months old and from before the certification was out.
  4. How will we integrate and test or retest with firewall e.g. snort?
  5. What will be our strategy for Integrating with and re-testing mesh implementation?

You can read about our open source integration project examples for consumer and smart city 

IoT Device OEM using xRTOS (FreeRTOS/SafeRTOS/OpenRTOS)

IoT device OEMs in many cases have to worry about integration a lot more than any other device OEMs.

  1. How will Wi-Fi 6 interact with other stacks e.g. Zigbee or BLE?
  2. What will be our strategy for backward compatibility to interact with APs that may not support Wi-Fi 6 fully yet?
  3. How will we port the latest bug fixes for wi-fi device drives (bc43xx, iwlwifi, mwlwifi), firmware or packages for SoCs, or wpa3 to our RTOS? E.g. the latest release of FreeRTOS is from May 2019 which is 6 months before the certification was out.

You can read about our IoT and Embedded project examples for Wi-Fi and integration of Zigbee with Wi-Fi integrations.

Chip/SoC Manufacturers

Chip/SoC Manufacturers want to drive adoption of their latest chipsets. As such they will have to figure out how to:

  1. Support customers on latest chipsets and SDKs — Benison has built expertise to support customers on Wi-Fi 6 adoption for Broadcom BCM 4375 and Marvel 88W9064.
  2. Integrate the device drivers and bug fixes with upstream open source operating systems like Linux, Android and FreeRTOS. 
  3. In addition if the chipset is meant for access points then they need to make sure the software packages and fixes make it to upstream packaged solutions like OpenWRT/prpl. Our partners like Cavium and Marvel rely on us for integrating their device drivers in OpenWRT.
  4. Ensure their customers have access to test kits and scripts that simulate the same testing that will be necessary for Wi-Fi 6 certification.

We fully expect that the activity around Wi-Fi 6 will pick up in Q4 2019 and CES 2020 will see a flood of applications for Wi-Fi 6. Want to get started with Broadcom BCM 4375 or Marvel 88W9064 or have more questions about integrating Wi-Fi 6 in your product? Contact Us Looking forward to an exciting CES2020 with Wi-Fi 6 applications!!


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