Wi-Fi 6E: Technologies and Products for your Connectivity needs

by  Stephane Renaud  - 2020-09-01 

For many who have transitioned to working from home, our home wireless connectivity has become critical for our work and personal lives. Many are looking forward to the upcoming release of Wi-Fi 6E, which uses a new unlicensed spectrum made available in the 6GHz band worldwide. Countries like the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Brazil and the European Union are well advanced into their regulatory process with the earliest planning to open that new spectrum at the end of 2020.

In most countries, the newly available 6GHz spectrum will more than double the capacity and speed of today’s Wi-Fi, enabling a set of new features and capabilities ranging from 8K video wireless distribution to virtual and augmented realities. The applications for this technology are infinite ranging from broadcasting to streaming to home security and even to gaming.

The question remains, though, what is the best method to distribute this new wireless capacity throughout the home? Mesh systems can be used to effectively distribute Wi-Fi throughout a residence, enterprise, or factory. Wi-Fi mesh devices will be some of the very first products to include 6GHz support, both for mesh interconnection – a.k.a. backhaul, as well as 6GHz home coverage for devices. Wi-Fi 6E will drive the dynamic mesh market forward, which already ships over 20 million systems yearly.

In parallel, our homes are getting smarter every year. Home monitoring and security, lighting control, smart appliances and climate control are increasingly popular applications. They use a diversity of ultra-low-power IoT (Internet of Things) radios: Zigbee®, Bluetooth® Low Energy, Thread, as well as various sub-1GHz radios. It is expected that the annual shipment of wireless smart home devices will surpass 100 million units in 2021.

Yet smart home has its own coverage issues with a single gateway unable to control all wireless appliances in case of larger homes. Quite logically, many smart home vendors and service providers are combining IoT connectivity and Wi-Fi mesh into an extended mesh product offer.

This next generation of mesh products will consequently need to support up to three Wi-Fi bands combined with one or more IoT radios into a product that consumers expect to be compact, discrete and reasonably priced.

At ON Semiconductor, all of these technologies can be combined in powerful, yet compact smart home and mesh designs to enhance the home user experience with unrivaled Wi-Fi Home coverage and extended smart home connectivity.

Based on QCS-AX2 Wi-Fi chipsets from ON Semiconductor, these smart home and mesh designs offer powerful Wi-Fi and IoT combinations of dual-band concurrent Wi-Fi 6 or tri-band concurrent Wi-Fi 6E with Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee radios. The addition of a proprietary Sub-1GHz radio is also possible. IoT radios are available as a module on these reference designs. However, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have the freedom to design their own products with all radios on the same board. A mechanism of coexistence between WLAN 2.4GHz, Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee will maximize performance across all the radios.

With smart home applications, security is extremely important to consumers. ON Semiconductor offers a security framework enabling product firmware authentication during a secure boot process. This feature is critical in preventing a rogue firmware to be loaded onto the gateway that would put both the Wi-Fi and smart home at risk.

Both Zigbee and Bluetooth Low Energy stacks operate securely on the reference design embedded CPU in every node of the mesh network. This way, a smart home can be managed by a unique master controller that sits in any of the mesh nodes or the access router/gateway. Smart home appliances do not need to be in direct reach of that master controller as commands can be securely bridged via the wireless backhaul. The end users can control their smart home from any communication devices – smartphone, tablet, computer – either directly on the wireless network or via a cloud platform.

This lightweight and flexible architecture opens up a wide array of product applications combining premium Wi-Fi home coverage, lighting and home appliance control, climate control, home security and many more IoT services. This is applicable to multiple markets: service providers, retail, consumer electronics, and more.

Please contact your ON Semiconductor Sales representative for more information about our QCS-AX2 and RSL10 Mesh platform solutions.

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Tags:Internet of Things, IoT, Networking and Telecommunications, Wi-Fi Sensing, Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi, Wireless Connectivity
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