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Evolution of Wi-Fi Technology

From the early days of the 21st century, IEEE 802.11 configuration for WLAN, better known as Wi-Fi, has evolved exponentially. The standard has continuously evolved itself with new protocols, like the 802.11n, 802.11ac, and 802.11ax. Nowadays, even the rural area internet providers have started providing these protocols as standard, which support the multi-client transmission with improved spectral efficiency.  

The business standard for devices going forward is trending towards wireless standards. As a result, IoT is seeing exponential growth as well, meaning more devices need Wi-Fi to expand their capabilities. 

A brief history of Wi-Fi as we know it 

The IEEE802.11 standards that define Wi-Fi are a result of contributions from several inventors and patents. First Wi-Fi networks appeared in the late 90s with the establishment of the IEEE committee, which founded the core performance standards. The 802 series consists of all kinds of area networks, like the MAN, LAN, and WAN.  

One of the first Wi-Fi standards was introduced in 1997, the 802.11b on 2.4 GHz band that used complex M-Ary orthogonal coding known as Complementary Code Keying (CCK), and was completed in 1999. However, with too many options, interoperability was nothing short of a nightmare and hence did not receive commercial success. 

In 1999, the specifications for IEEE 802.11a operating at 5.2 GHz using OFDM transmission technology were also completed, which was less popular than 802.11b due to technical difficulties in the production of the components. 

2003 was the release of the IEEE 802.11g working group defined OFDM operation in 2.4 GHz. It combined the best features of both the previous standards, expanding the horizon of the Wi-Fi market to more distributors, namely the satellite internet providers

Later amendments to the Wi-Fi technology 

The next amendment to the Wi-Fi standards was the 802.11n amendment, which supported both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, meaning it could use an even wider bandwidth. With the introduction of the “antenna section”, transmitters and receivers could use more than one antenna, which increased the throughput up to 600Mbps. 

The latest Wi-Fi standards include the 802.11ac and 802.11ad, with throughputs up to 7Gbps. Both support OFDM, but the 802.11ad group adopted the mmWave pulse transmission in the 60GHz band. Although the ultra-wideband (UWB) transmission is common in the latest 5G technologies, the 802.11ad standards did not attract a huge share of the market. 

The future of Wi-Fi and IoT 

As stated in the beginning, the business standard of devices going forward is fewer wires and cables. Even satellite internet providers have started providing Wi-Fi modems and routers with their connections so that more wireless devices can connect to the internet and take advantage of interconnected technologies through IoT. 

Technologies that we see today in our homes, will soon be implemented on the outside for smart farms, smart electricity grids, smart cars, etc. The future of Wi-Fi is all about Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and whatever standards come next. With Wi-Fi security increasing, rural area internet providers can also promise impeccable wireless connectivity without it costing a fortune. 

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