SK Telecom 802.11ax demo takes Wi-Fi close to 5 Gbps

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SK Telecom says it has demonstrated next-gen Wi-Fi technology that can achieve data speeds up to 4.8 Gbps based on the IEEE 802.11ax standard.

SK Telecom demoed the technology via a testbed within its “T Open Lab” R&D Center in Bundang. The testbed is designed to test the performance of the new technology in various deployment scenarios including high traffic density.

The 802.11ax standard features OFDMA, multi-user MIMO and Dynamic Sensitivity Control (DSC) technology that are designed to improve network efficiency. The SK Telecom demo took that as the starting point and developed its own version, using four antennas to transmit data and uses 160 MHz bandwidth in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The 160-MHz carriers are twice as wide as the carriers used for 802.11ac, which delivers peak speeds of 1.3 Gbps. With four antennas, 802.11ax can deliver four times the throughput of 802.11ac.

Standards work on 802.11ax at IEEE has not yet been completed, and currently isn’t expected to be until around 2019. But several vendors – namely Qualcomm, Quantenna and Broadcom – have already commercially released 802.11ax chipsets. Huawei has announced an 802.11ax access point using a Qualcomm chip, while Asus has launched an 802.11ax router based on the Broadcom chip.

SK Telecom expects says its expects 802.11ax Wi-Fi service to be commercially available for smartphones next year. That said, the first generation of smartphones supporting 802.11ax will be limited to theoretical data speeds of 1.2 Gbps, as they will have only two antennas using 80 MHz of bandwidth each.

SK Telecom says it plans to deploy Wi-Fi access points using its technology next year in high traffic density areas.

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