Cable ops to be ‘surgical’ with latest Wi-Fi tech

A new wave of Wi-Fi 6E products that take advantage of new spectrum broadcasts in 6GHz band is coming to market, but the introduction of this new technology among cable operators is likely to be limited to targeted, application-driven scenarios in the beginning.

This is largely because the new broadband gateways that use Wi-Fi 6E will rely on more expensive three-band settings that support Wi-Fi in the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands. And operators will need a solid business reason to introduce these new products as Wi-Fi 6E-enabled client devices begin to leak to the market.

“It doesn’t make sense to invest in 6GHz, just to say it’s sitting there waiting for customers to come in,” said Charles Chevers, technical director of CommScope’s Home Networks division, during a LiveLearning webinar organized by Light Reading together with SCTE / ISBE focuses on Wi-Fi 6 and its 5G connections.

This process will take time, so specific applications will lead to the need for these 6GHz radios among operators, at least early, he predicts.

Some potential examples: the use of wireless receivers with 6GHz radios that can transmit video, including 4K content, without buffering. Cheevers noted that CommScope is preparing to introduce Wi-Fi 6E decors in labs by the end of 2021 and is preparing for an extended release in 2022. Meanwhile, LG Electronics and Samsung have began introducing premium TV models equipped with Wi-Fi 6E.

“Your [set-top] the Netflix platform is the one that people will go to compared to the Apple TV box because you’ve invested in a 6GHz connection, “Cheevers said.

It also envisions the use of a 6GHz “clean channel” in apartments or other apartment buildings that can unblock congestion that can occur with old dual-band Wi-Fi technology.

Another potential use is the provision of low latency services for cloud games.

“Combine this with low-latency DOCSIS and you have a cloud gaming network directly over Wi-Fi that consumers will want to pay for,” Cheevers predicted. “Low latency is the new currency ahead.”

But to get the most out of Wi-Fi 6 amid the proliferation of access points and Wi-Fi clients, operators will also need to be more careful in the way they monitor and manage these networks.

Faced with this threat of “self-interference” and “self-clogging”, the need for a centralized intelligent control system that can optimize Wi-Fi networks for each individual home is becoming more acute, said Bill McFarland, Plume’s technical director.

Every home needs a “just right solution” that balances aggregation in OFDMA groups connecting to nearby access points, he added. “The right topology for each home will be different depending on customers and traffic patterns.”

McFarland also cites BSS Color, a tool in Wi-Fi 6 that can help mitigate interference from overlapping networks. But in order for the system to make the right decisions and receive adjustments in areas such as traffic patterns, customer usage and traffic loads, BSS Color “requires a new paradigm in Wi-Fi management,” he explained.

Wi-Fi 6 and 5G: Two peas in a pod?

The study of Wi-Fi 6E and the use of 6GHz bandwidth will also move into 5G territory and will require assurances that the two countries coexist and work together, said John Chapman, technical director of broadband technology at Cisco Systems.

It is no longer a question of either. “You have to do both. Both are already in the environment,” Chapman said, noting that many cable operators are already mobile network operators or on their way as they progress to “hybrid” approaches that link MVNO agreements to deployment. of own mobile devices network equipment and spectrum.

The good news is that Wi-Fi 6 and 5G share some similarities. Both use OFDMA to plan their upstreams, and both are equipped to take advantage of the 1.2GHz value spectrum available in the 6GHz band.

“They are more alike than different and the two must be part of the deployment strategy for the service provider as well as for the enterprise,” Chapman said. “The trick is to make sure that when they both switch to 6GHz, they don’t shake each other, they work together in a complementary way.” The concept of automatic frequency coordination could provide some help in this area, he added.

As a result, the coexistence and technical similarity between 5G and Wi-Fi 6 could open up new opportunities for cable operators to manage these networks for corporate customers and others, Chapman said.

But it also means that operators will need to make more concerted efforts to establish a basic convergence that connects their multiple access networks to common policy implementation.

Amole Chobe, chief solution architect at Red Hat, emphasized this need as cable operators use cable, fixed wireless and mobile networks to serve corporate customers and support private networks. 5G and Wi-Fi may coexist, but they also need a higher level of convergence, encompassing load balancing, aggregation and authentication, he said, suggesting that operators will need to target a software-defined network to to extract it.

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– Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Easy reading