Interact for 5G Success

Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E - What do you need to test and why?

Published: 2nd September 2020

Any manufacturer releasing Wi-Fi enabled devices such as mobile phones, tablets, modems, access points and routers needs to ensure that they transmit compliant Wi-Fi signals which also meet regulatory limits set-out by telecom bodies such as OFCOM and the FCC.

All new Wi-Fi devices should be 100% tested parametrically to ensure they transmit and receive correctly at the right frequency, power, time and signal format so they can communicate effectively with other devices. Wi-Fi 6 uses a new modulation format called OFDMA. This is already used in 4G and 5G cellular communications which need more complex and rigorous testing than ever before.

So what is OFDMA?

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) is a multi-user version of the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) digital modulation scheme. Multiple access is achieved in OFDMA by assigning subsets of subcarriers to individual users. This allows simultaneous data transmission to and from several users.

802.11ax systems require close Access Point (AP) to station “handshaking.” Think of the AP as a mini base station. The AP groups transmissions for download and upload and to and from multiple users. Precise timing and frequency control is required to combine multiple users together.

OFDMA supports users to “talk” at the same time and at the same carrier frequency. The AP also talks “loud” (higher power) to far away users and “soft” (lower power) to close users. Additionally, users that are far away need to talk “louder” to the AP and users that are close need to talk “softer” to the AP. Each user is allocated one or more Resource Units (RU). Resource Units are segments of time and frequency similar to the technology used in today’s cellular networks.

What does OFDMA mean for Wi-Fi testing?

Testing both time and frequency creates many more scenarios that need to be tested with critical accuracy compared with previous generations of Wi-Fi. Test calibration is also required for power level source and measurement.

How do you test Wi-Fi 6E devices?

With the emergence of Wi-Fi 6E, it’s critical to ensure that the next generation of Wi-Fi products meet the highest standards for performance and interoperability. Here’s what you’ll need to consider:

Extended frequency range
Wi-Fi 6E devices will support the entire frequency range from 5.925 MHz to 7.125 MHz. Most Wi-Fi 6E devices will support dual-band 5 + 6 GHz and often tri-band 2.4 + 5 + 6 GHz. Requiring testing on all the frequency bands.

1024 QAM
Wi-Fi 6 uses 1024-QAM modulation and requires transmitters to perform with significantly better accuracy (lower constellation error) than was required from previous generations. The 802.11ax standard specifies -35 dB EVM for the highest data rate, compared to the -32 dB EVM requirement in 802.11ac.

Wider Channels
The 6 GHz band enables wider channels and Wi-Fi 6E will commonly be deployed with 80-MHz and 160-MHz channels, requiring optimized device’s performance.

Wi-Fi 6E devices will be able to make full use of OFDMA transmission because no OFDM-legacy devices are allowed on the 6 GHz band.

Testing Wi-Fi 6 / 6E. Are you ready for the challenge?

Whilst 802.11ax brings significant improvements in user experience, it also brings new levels of complexity. This increase in complexity presents unique test challenges, with the potential for slowing down throughput and increasing costs.

Is it possible to test Wi-Fi 6 / 6E quickly and cost-effectively?

Yes. LitePoint makes advanced 802.11ax testing faster and easier. The IQxel-MW 7G, is a fully integrated test system for Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E testing in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz testing up to 7.3 GHz bands.

LitePoint IQxel-MW 7G

Why choose LitePoint?

With the largest global installed base of production Wi-Fi testers, LitePoint is the leader in Wi-Fi test.

• Lowest risk solution for bringing new Wi-Fi technologies to market.
• Supported in all of the 802.11ax chipset tools.
• On the leading edge of 802.11ax feature development, including innovating new test methods to achieve faster test times.

Looking for the complete Wi-Fi 6 / 6E solution?

MCS Test can provide a wide range of flexible solutions to get you Wi-Fi 6 / 6E ready, from Litepoint’s ultra fast testing platforms, to shield boxes and attenuators.

Explore our Wi-Fi 6 / 6E test solutions here.

MCS Test are the approved UK partner for LitePoint
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