The 11ax Wi-fi standard aims to boost users' data rates up to 30 percent while lowering latency nearly 4x and deliver as much as four times the overall data on the same spectrum as today's 11ac. These requirements have been very demanding for engineers, and that's the main reason the delay of the standard's launch.
The 802.11ax adds to Wi-Fi OFDMA modulation, a spectrum efficiency technique already used in cellular networks. It also expands support for multi-user MIMO antennas and adds 1,024 QAM.
Most enterprise-class system makers are delaying 11ax rollouts from Q2 to Q4 2018 or Q1 2019, with OEMs such as Huawei and H3C to have aggressive plans to be first in the market with 11ax products.
Intel, Qualcomm and others have been sampling pre-standard 11ax chips for many months. Japan's KDDI already advertises 11ax access points made by NEC, while Chinese Huawei plans to use the same chip in systems it will make.
The Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) still needs to complete its certification program for 11ax, something it is expected to have in place by fall 2019. It has started work conducting interoperability tests using pre-standard chips.
The group recently voted to make WPA 3, the latest version of its security software, a mandatory part of its 11ax certification.