Wi-Fi is entering a refresh period, perhaps the most important since its creation. Wi-Fi 6 promises to improve range and performance for new, but also existing devices. Also, it can sustainably manage the proliferation of connected devices.
Qualcomm provides Wi-Fi 6 components to local network infrastructure companies that produce routers, such as Netgear and Cisco, to cite a couple of famous ones.
Earlier today, at the Qualcomm Wi-Fi 6 Day conference in San Francisco, Qualcomm announced the Networking Pro series of system on chips, which are processors for router and access points (infrastructure).
The new processors come at different price point, depending on their ability to handle a high number of concurrent connections and network traffic.
With Networking Pro (NP) models designed to handle 4,6,8 or 12 streams, Qualcomm’s customers can now build routers that target the entire market, instead of just going for the pricey high-end with the previous-generation Qualcomm platform.
Designs (except for the NP 400) support WiFi-SON the mesh networking that seamlessly connects your devices across vast spaces, handing over the connection to the best-positioned node in real-time, just like your smartphone does on a cellular network.
The naming is relatively simple: Networking Pro 400, 600, 800, and 1200, and here are the comparative specifications below:
The main difference is in the number of simultaneous streams, and the choice is simple: the more connected devices you have and the more simultaneous bandwidth you use, and the higher you go to ensure a smooth experience.
A regular family can quickly push the boundaries of a basic modem-router provided by their Internet Provider. Having a couple of people stream 4K video and one person play a fast-paced online game seems like a reasonable baseline these days.
Gamers might take an interest in OFDMA technology. It is an upstream (upload) a much better-managed Wi-Fi protocol. With it, the router can orchestrate the communications with all the clients to avoid collisions and repeated unsuccessful connections to reduce latency drastically.
You may have noticed that new high-end laptops and phones such as the Galaxy S10 have Wi-Fi 6 built-in. While they may not use a client Qualcomm chip, the next-generation smartphones and always connected laptops will.
At the same event, Qualcomm has announced FastConnect, which is the WiFi/BT communications “block” inside Qualcomm’s various chips. As a result, FastConnect 6200 and the just-announced FastConnect 6800 (formerly QCA6390) are the two such units available now, and FastConnect 6800 is likely to be integrated into the next-gen Snapdragon 865 platform if the current naming scheme continues. It will support OFDMA and can connect and communicate through both 2.4 and 5.0GHz bands at the same time, something that is desirable because you never know which channel will be best at any given time.