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CES 2017 Wrapup: Wi-Fi At A Crossroads

Discussion in 'Wireless Article Discussions' started by thiggins, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    roundaway and pete y testing like this.
  2. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    2016 has been an interesting year...

    Crystal Ball Stuff...

    Improved BHR's - that's a known thing... they'll get bigger/uglier/more expensive, and people will buy them - they're the gamer laptops excess that we saw in that space over the last year...

    MU - the 3D-TV of WiFi - bigger numbers on the box perhaps - but I do think that MU will find a place

    And the advent of MESH - and quite a few startups - some more successful that others - eero comes to mind there...

    We also have seen in 2016 the interest now in small wired only routers - the interest in the ER series from UBNT, along with the later entry with uTik's hEX - both are fairly capable there.

    DIY routers - some are going down this path with x86 based boxes on pfSense and other distro's. I think Intel's caught on to the cheap QOTOM boxes and the numbers that many have observed and appreciated...

    2016 was good - really good...

    2017, I see some of the startups either getting bought-out or folding up - it's a battle there with known names and established shelf-space in the big-box arena. And the big names so far seem to be diving deep into the MESH/Multi-Point pool - I certainly hope eero succeeds here, as it's a good product...

    Where 2017 gets interesting is the turn up of gigabit routing and N-Base-T - Broadcom has fired their first salvo with Asus and the new dead-spider AC5300 thingy (Quad-Core Cortex A53, upgraded switch, better radios), and Intel's taking initial steps into the pool with QNAP and their Router/GW platform for the BHR heavy-weight title...

    I do see more cloud enablement - this time from the bigger players - google (ongoing push with their chromeos based devices), microsoft (yes, I expect them to jump in), apple (airports, not dead yet), and amazon (the alexa router) - whether this is add in, or they go all-in, but expect to see some interesting stuff there

    For Carrier Provided Equipment - Arris and Netgear are going to be really strong going into 2017 - and from chipsets - Broadcom and QC-Atheros will face a running battle with Intel, who really wants to get into the space - and the gear here will get better - some posts here on Norton teaming up with Arris is just the first step - the big operators are deploying their own IOT services, and they need the end-point security there as well...

    With the CPE realm - more on PLC and MOCA, as well as improved WiFi from them - and with SDN deployments, maybe even more flexibility on those platforms for end-users/customers, as this is a long standing issue that many inside also appreciate (as they are customers, too)

    IOT will still be a mess - ranging from insecure to very, and google/amazon/apple, and I suspect facebook will jump into this arena - and perhaps forge partnerships with the major carriers...

    With the carrier emphasis - and I see this increasing in 2017 (and beyond) with FCC fundamentally changing policies, the off-the-shelf market might suffer a bit - mainly due to some factors regulatory wise, and also some general market maturity (e.g. why some startups are going to go away).

    I do expect a couple of big mergers (and a few small ones) this year in consumer space - some of the weaker hands will get gobbled up - the BHR market is fairly saturated - and the big fish can only grow now by eating the little guys... there will still be niches for startups, and these will be interesting to see..
     
    Hydro likes this.
  3. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    Linksys and Asus recently entered a new phase to extend that market (one I expected them to enter sooner): new routers labeled as "gamer-optimized". Gaming gear tends to have really nice profit margins, even when it's half snake oil, half hype. I'd expect Netgear and D-Link to eventually join them.
     
    Hydro likes this.
  4. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Edit - I'm really happy that Intel is jumping into the pool...

    Tender steps at first, with their ecosystem, but I think they have a lot to offer...

    Good to have competition here...
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
  5. pete y testing

    pete y testing Very Senior Member

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    hi tim

    was going to say what you posted was exactly what i was seeing and understood as being the future at least for the next 6 months

    but here it is yet another debate

    this whole wtf is like a magical roundabout thats never ending , see



    we are here to test and hopefully recommend what we get and use not judged the future and where its going

    we are here to help the user base not confuse them , well thats why most of us are here :)

    live long and prosper , but dont forget why we are here

    pete
     
  6. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    So any thoughts on the death of the Wi-Fi class system? 11ax? Linksys' gross abuse of the Wi-Fi class system?
     
    sfx2000 likes this.
  7. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I think 11ax is still a bit soon - maybe in 2018 - the basebands and rf in even current wifi chips is incredibly complicated compared to where things were at with 11n/11g... and 11ax will step things up even more.

    11ah - I would like to see more explore this option, as it's tailor made for IoT applications - maybe more will happen here for industrial automation perhaps.

    I agree that the wifi class system is an opportunity to improve - perhaps WiFi Alliance can help with this one, probably the only place that can occur, as both vendors the chipset guys belong to that organization.
     
  8. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    I'll stick with my 2017 prediction for draft 11ax. I'm not saying it will work (well). But it will appear.

    No sign of activity or discussion on 11ah. If manfs are going to put an IoT specific radio in, they'll add Bluetooth LE and/or Zigbee.

    Don't look to the Wi-Fi Alliance for any help. They had nothing to do with the creation of the current system.
     
  9. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    perhaps - as having 11ax will let vendors put even bigger numbers on the box ;)

    Let's just hope the 11ax rollout will be smooth - 11ac Wave 1 was very well done out of the box, but 11ax has some fundamental changes that will be challenging for many..

    If Zigbee doesn't hit this year... I'm not sure if it ever will, as noted, BTLE is good enough for many...
     
  10. DanH

    DanH Regular Contributor

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    I'd say that there are two aspects to it, the big one is it appears to be seriously flawed (and judging by the "fixes" so far it is not something that can be fixed in firmware). The other is, although it is a very real and very noticeable issue, 99.99% of the owners have no idea that it is broke: they either think that is the way it is supposed to be, that it is something else causing it (i.e. their ISPs service), or they don't use the applications where it becomes flagrantly obvious (gaming and VOIP). Seems to me the combo of those two issues, along with the intro of the new PUMA 7, that it will never get fixed, and they honestly don't care. I know I will stay far and wide from anything with PUMA in it for the foreseeable future. Fool me once.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2017
  11. Razor512

    Razor512 Senior Member

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    Will 802.11ax work properly in an environment with a ton of other networks not having support for it, or is it focused more on there being relatively few APs but a large number of clients?
     
  12. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Based on the Wave1/2 802.11ac experience with the launch - I would think yes, it should be pretty smooth - compared to the 11n tech launch with multiple drafts there...
     
  13. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Thoughts on Zigbee/BTLE - my bet is on BTLE...

    While over 4 billion Zigbee chipsets have been delivered - yes, amazing though it is - that's a small number compared to 802.11/BT combo chipsets that are in every smartphone in the last 4 years...

    Zigbee has been very successful in the verticals - smart meters is a good place for them, e.g. industrial automation in the scheme of IoT... but in the Smart Home, they're struggling - bit of a walled garden, and one that several are trying to break through - mostly over 802.11 PHY's....

    That's why 802.11ah is very interesting to me, as it shares the same stack with 11 a/b/g/n/ac, so it's relatively easier to manage...

    A quick summary that I cribbed from Quora - this person did a good job at summarizing Zigbee vs. BTLE...

    Which applications are suitable for each standard?
    BLE:

    • Bluetooth LE offers a star topology only
    • BLE is in smart phones, tablets and laptops
    • BLE on a star is easy to use
    • BLE offers on its GFSK modulation reasonable power consumption
    • BLE licences are in the chip set included

    ZigBee:
    • Zigbee offers star, tree and meshed topology
    • ZigBee is not a part of smart phones, tablets and laptops
    • ZigBee on tree or mesh is not easy to use
    • ZigBee on its DSSS modulation has higher power consumption than GFSK
    • ZigBee licences are not in ICs included and the licence process is complex

    For which is development easier?
    BLE is easier to handle
    For which is it easier to get regulatory approval?
    This is for both technologies the same effort.​
     
  14. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    I had another post (since deleted, as the content there wasn't really relevant)...

    These "higher end" devices aimed towards a specific market segment, e.g. gamers, is a good sign that we've hit a plateau in the market, and the vendors are chasing the long tail...

    80 percent of the work was done in 11ac Wave 1 - which is why devices like the Netgear R7000 and Asus RT-AC86U still have a good reputation and sell well - for most, devices like those are "good enough".

    When prices for "gamer optimized" devices start hitting $300-$500 USD mind you, I'm not sure that the volume is going to be that high - but there are those that will drink the marketing kool-aid...

    At least the Asus device is a good step forward compared to the skin-job that another vendor is promoting... but still, for most folks, these 'higher end' devices are the Lisa Simpson solutions...

    Answers to a question that nobody asked...

    In Jan 2017 - the AC1900 Wave 1 devices are still the best bet, and the best value - followed closely by the AC2600 class (4 stream, with MU, but there's value outside of MU)...

    With BHR's - if one spends over $200USD, one has spent too much... as those devices at that price range should meet all needs.
     
  15. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    That's the intent. It's too early to tell. I suspect AX may play nicely with AC. But with N, maybe not so much.
     
  16. DanH

    DanH Regular Contributor

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    Can someone explain why they think these "gamer" solution are "snake oil". Seems to me that they intend to make a relatively transparent QoS solution for gaming, and to be honest that isn't exactly trivial. Go spend a day googling QoS and look at how much confusion there is on the subject. It's confusing enough that one company can charge a $100+ fee just for their firmware and QoS implementation , and you don't see too many examples, if any at all ,of anyone else providing examples of them being able to do it themselves on the same hardware. If it was a trivial task you'd think you'd see some pretty decent examples of others doing it, but you don't.
    So IMO if these gaming routers can do the trick, and maintain decent throughout with dynamic QoS then yeah that's pretty cool thing for 2017.
     
  17. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Because most of the latency is on the WAN, where there is nothing that a local solution can do to effect it.
     
  18. DanH

    DanH Regular Contributor

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    Well I agree.

    On the other hand:

    I also think there are things they offer like geo-filtering (or whatever they call it) can help (especially in games with no server browser). It won't work for all games, but it works for quite a few. When your router is preventing the game from selecting hosts that are terrible, that can only help.

    I also think QoS helps tremendously for quite a few people. Most people don't live in situations where they have unlimited bandwidth, and/or are the only ones using the connection. When you are on 5-10 Mbps DSL or even 50 Mbps cable and all the sudden half the family fires up Netflix streams or some large downloads, well things go to heck quickly. I don't think they are a magic bullet, but I think they offer a solution on the end consumers actually have control over, and I also think most of the time that is going to be a much better experience than without it.

    That's my 2 cents, I think there is some actual engineering behind these "gamer" features that makes sense , and just isn't snake oil or some RGB LEDs. I also think that implementing decent QoS is something beyond the level of even your above average consumer to implement well, so paying a premium for someone else to do it might actually be worth it.

    Thanks for your answer.
     
    kvic likes this.
  19. RMerlin

    RMerlin Super Moderator

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    It's a mess, and I can't think of any good way of making things cleaner unfortunately. It reminds me a bit of back when AMD tried to advertise CPUs by a rating number rather than by their clock rate, as they were trying to avoid the issue that people thought a higher clocked Intel CPU was automatically better than an AMD's, even tho during that generation, clock for clock, the AMD had better performance/IPC. That didn't work out too well.

    The Wifi Alliance is partly responsible for not making any official classification scheme, and Broadcom made things far worse by introducing "hypeQAM" and XStream into the equation, and trying to apply the established "standard" classification to it. The cynical might think they they purposefully created Turbo/Nitro QAM solely to abuse the existing classification scheme.
     
  20. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    It's not just Broadcom - X-Stream, while I'm not a big fan, isn't outside of 802.11 formal specs - so that's ok... for some, there might be some benefit, and I don't hold it against Broadcom there (except that it's purposefully misleading customer that it would be 2x the speed, which it is not)

    WiFi Alliance actually has a lot of pull in this game - they're a certifying authority - putting their stamp of approval on OEM devices and Chipset Vendor Reference Platforms, so if they put some cajones behind the sticker below...

    Unknown.jpeg
    And tell the chipset vendors to "knock it off" or you won't get the sticker.. it will stop.

    QAM256 is pretty hard stuff at the baseband level, and Broadcom should be applauded perhaps for getting QAM1024 into their basebands - but it's not a marketing advantage to be honest, as we (the hive mind here) know it's out of spec, and besides, it's really hard to see QAM256 in the b/g/n 2.4GHz space, and I've never seen a QAM1024 outside of the lab...

    Part of the problem though is that the cows have already left the barn - what to do with the millions of devices already out there, and how reclassify those existing devices without exposing OEM's to potential litigation (because, lawyers will do what they do) based loosely on false marketing promises...