802.11ax Wi-Fi Products Arrive to Change the Future Wi-Fi Landscape

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3Q 2018 | IN-5192

The new routers from ASUS using the 802.11ax standard aim to address the explosion of Wi-Fi-connected devices in the home, requiring ever faster speeds for applications like gaming. However, standardization is not expected to be finalized until 2019.

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ASUS Announces 802.11ax Wi-Fi Devices


Taiwanese hardware maker ASUS announced a line of routers supporting next-generation Wi-Fi 802.11ax in June 2018. The announcement followed the RT-AX88U model revealed earlier this year at CES. One of the new models includes GT-AX11000, which uses a single 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands supporting up to 4804 Mbps Wi-Fi speed. The other two models are AX6100 supporting data transfer speeds up to 6100 Mbps and RT-AX88U supporting 6000 Mbps. The AX6100 model supports a mesh networking system to expand coverage when used in larger homes. As one of the primary gaming router makers, ASUS’ new routers are designed to handle an increasing number of devices and high-speed applications in the home network. Since 802.11ax standardization is expected to complete in 2019, the announced devices use pre-standard chipsets and the detail of pricing and date of availability in the market has not been announced yet.

802.11ax Features and Benefits


A few years ago, 802.11ac, which can deliver Wi-Fi speeds up to 1.3 Gbps, hit the market. 802.11ac including Wave 1 and Wave succeeded in taking 58% of the total residential Wi-Fi Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) device shipments in 2017. The explosion of connected devices and applications continuously drives the need for Wi-Fi and more efficient Wi-Fi products. 802.11ax was developed as an evolution of 802.11ac in order to provide better Wi-Fi performance. The following are the key features supported by the 802.11ax standard:

  • Operates in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands (802.11ac operates only in 5 GHz band)
  • Supports full-duplex 8x8 Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) (802.11ac Wave 2 supports only downlink 4x4 MU-MIMO)
  • Supports 1024 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), a theoretical 25% increase in data rate compared to 802.11ac, which supports 256 QAM
  • Uses more efficient spatial reuse techniques to provide better performance in dense areas
  • Uses downlink and uplink Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which reduces frequency fading and interference, and increases throughput
  • 802.11ax can support greater range compared to earlier 802.11 standards when data rates are compromised
  • Target Wake Time (TWT) allows stations to sleep for longer periods of time to reduce power consumption and result in better battery life for client devices

What to Expect in the Wi-Fi Market


The features provided by 802.11ax address a number of challenges facing Wi-Fi today. The demand for high capacity and a reliable Wi-Fi network is ever growing due to the increase in connected devices and the resulting traffic explosion. Many of these devices are more demanding than ever before due to increases in video streaming, online gaming, high-resolution audio streaming, social networking, video conferencing, and 4K (and eventually 8K) video Features supported by 802.11ax such as Higher QAM modulation, full-duplex 8x8 MU-MIMO, OFDMA boost efficiency of Wi-Fi networks and make the Wi-Fi standard suitable for deployment in high-density areas.

However, 802.11ax standard Wi-Fi CPE developments are still in the early stages, and the 802.11ax standard itself is expected to be completed in 2019.


In addition to ASUS, Aerohive, ARRIS, and D-Link have announced residential 802.11ax devices. Aerohive announced three access point models supporting 802.11ax in early 2018. ARRIS announced the NVG578 PON gateway, which supports 802.11ac with an upgrade to 802.11ax in dual-band and tri-band configurations. D-Link unveiled its AX6000 and AX11000 802.11ax devices at CES 2018. Hardware giant Huawei also announced an enterprise-grade 802.11ax access point in 2017. Pricing detail and commercial launch of 802.11ax devices have yet to revealed; however, several pre-standard chipsets for residential and enterprise access points and set-top boxes have been announced by chipset companies. On the hardware market, Aerohive Networks, New H3C, and consumer Wi-Fi CPE manufactures including NETGEAR, Sagemcom, Technicolor, and TP-Link have announced 802.11ax partnerships with chipset makers for CPE development. Unlike 802.11ad WiGig running in 60 GHz with limited range, there is strong interest from device makers in developing 802.11ax devices. Participation of key consumer Wi-Fi device makers in the list indicates that there is a strong potential for 802.11ax to become a mainstream Wi-Fi standard.

However, it will take a while for the Wi-Fi market to see the mass production of 802.11ax products before the standard is finalized. Similarly, enterprise users and service providers may decide to wait until there is a higher penetration of the standard in smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Chipset makers, such as Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel, Celeno, and Marvell, have already announced 802.11-ax-ready chipsets for smartphones and other client devices. The expected arrival of 802.11ax in client devices in 2019 and onward will open the door for integrating 802.11ax in connected home devices. Meanwhile, 802.11ac devices are expected to maintain the highest market shares in the next few years, mainly driven by 802.11ac Wave 2 supporting MU-MIMO. Integrating 802.11ax into managed Wi-Fi mesh systems would benefit service providers, especially in early deployments because mesh users are willing to pay a premium cost for better performance.  ABI Research expects that 802.11ax Wi-Fi devices will be widely available from 2020 onward, representing more than one-third of the residential Wi-Fi equipment market in 2023. In order to promote wide adoption of the 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard, CPE makers will need to ensure the devices support WPA3 for better security features and educate consumers with the improved efficiency of the new Wi-Fi standard instead of focusing on peak throughput. Device makers should also promote enhancements in the 2.4 GHz band such as TWT, OFDMA, coexistence improvements in other IoT technologies etc. which will help increase the viability of Wi-Fi for the Internet of Things (IoT) applications.  For further reading, ABI Research’s latest report into 802.11ax and the Future of Wi-Fi provides key strategic recommendations around the transition to the new standard, while up to date forecasts for 802.11ax chipsets are provided in the Wireless Connectivity Technology Segmentation & Addressable Markets market data. 802.11 ax Wi-Fi CPE forecast is presented in ABI Research’s Set-top Boxes and CPE market data.