Spirent Wi-Fi 6 Performance Test Solution was recently awarded Best of Show Runner-up for Interop Tokyo 2020. Learn how its unique capabilities help assure new Wi-Fi 6 devices live up to their high demands and expectations.
While previous generations of Wi-Fi primarily focused on faster throughput, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) delivers improved capacity, latency, and efficiency – allowing us to use Wi-Fi technology in new and different ways.
This is important, as Wi-Fi 6 introduces new high challenge environments such as large indoor areas or dense and congested public outdoor areas. These new enhanced capabilities have a considerable impact on traditional Wi-Fi testing. To fully evaluate device performance in these increasingly demanding deployment scenarios, the incorporation of channel emulation into the test strategy becomes critical.
New Strategies for Testing Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 provides key benefits that were not available with previous generations, including:
Tri-band support: operation in 2.4 & 5 GHz bands plus new 6 GHz band (Wi-Fi 6e)
Increasing average throughput per station by at least 4x in dense deployment scenarios
Improvements to station power efficiency, channel, and bandwidth efficiency
These new requirements create complex scenarios that can greatly impact user experience and directly affect test strategy.
Channel emulation can replace or minimize the need for costly field testing by creating countless real-world scenarios in the lab.
The Value of Adding Channel Emulation to the Wi-Fi 6 Test Bed
The addition of a channel emulator into the WLAN emulation test bed has become an important factor in comprehensive Wi-Fi 6 performance testing.
So, what is a channel emulator? It is a complex instrument used to emulate air interfaces in wireless communications (5G-NR, LTE, proprietary, Wi-Fi, etc.). It mimics the real-world radio channel including all the complex aspects that can interfere with a signal (buildings, motion, speed, reflections, path loss, noise, etc.). It uses mathematical channel models to represent all these effects, which are a powerful method for bringing the real world into the lab and have been instrumental in advancing the cellular user experience we all enjoy today.
Channel emulation can replace or minimize the need for costly field testing by creating countless real-world scenarios in the lab. Testing in a lab environment is less expensive, more reliable, repeatable, can be automated, improves quality, and reduces time to market.
Not All Devices are Created Equal
In the following example, we wanted to see how two new Wi-Fi 6 access points from different manufacturers would perform under the exact same input power and traffic load conditions. We focused on a set of five outdoor channel models specified in IEEE 802.11 standards requirements. The graphs below show the results of that testing, where each color represents a different outdoor model:
While Device A struggles to maintain a consistent signal, Device B reaches as much as 66% higher data throughput for the Urban Micro Line of Sight (UMi LOS) model. Although Device B generally performs better with stronger power levels, Device A can hold onto the connection at lower power levels (or longer distances).
Such factors must be taken into consideration when evaluating devices for their target application. In this case, Device B would perform better in smaller, denser spaces, while Device A might do better in larger, more spread out areas.
For more details on Spirent’s solution for testing a full range of Wi-Fi 6 scenarios, visit the OCTOBOX page.