“Wi-Fi 6 Is Set To Transform Existing Business Models”

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James Chen, associate vice president, product marketing, MediaTek

James Chen, AVP – product marketing, MediaTek, in an exclusive conversation with Electronics Bazaar’s Mukul Yudhveer Singh, sheds light on the importance of Wi-Fi 6 for the electronics and IoT industry. Chen feels that the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing have made Wi-Fi 6 more important than ever.

EB: What are MediaTek’s plans to encourage the adoption of Wi-Fi 6 among device and  technology creators?
Chen: MediaTek has been a leader in the connectivity segment. Over a long time, it has led innovation in the semiconductor market for wireless home networking and broadband. We have the widest connectivity product portfolio and are No. 1 across the broadband, consumer electronics and gaming segments.

Globally, we have the maximum market share in consumer electronics, including smart TVs, routers and the gaming segments. Hundreds of global products, including mobile devices, audio solutions, PCs, digital TVs, Blu-ray players, IPTV set-top boxes and webcams, use MediaTek’s Wi-Fi technology.

The next-generation standard in Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as AX Wi-Fi or  802.11ax Wi-Fi) is an advancement in the current Wi-Fi technology we use. As bandwidth demands continue to rise, consumers and businesses are turning to the next generation of Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, which is enabling a new era of ultra-fast connectivity with high speeds, low latency and power efficiency. MediaTek is focused on delivering the best-in-class Wi-Fi 6 solutions to meet today’s consumer and commercial connectivity requirements to facilitate disruptive connectivity at home, in public spaces and everywhere in-between.

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MediaTek continues to power new lines of Wi-Fi 6 products for key markets like retail routers, consumer electronics, broadband, gaming, mobile and IoT.

EB: What are your views on the current lockdown due to COVID-19?
Chen: The current lockdown has created a tremendous bandwidth requirement for all of our favourite devices that need to be wirelessly connected. This is where Wi-Fi 6 comes into play.

EB: What does Wi-Fi 6 mean for the electronics and IoT industry?
Chen: Wi-Fi 6 provides the following distinct benefits to all users:

  • Support for faster speeds. Wi-Fi 6 is 41 per cent faster than Wi-Fi 5.
  • Support for more users and client devices at the same time, which is important for IoT appliances to which many clients are connected at the same time.
  • Support for better uplink performance, which is growing in importance given today’s apps based devices. This leads to better Quality of Service (QoS).

EB: How is COVID-19 affecting the overall business models of these industries? Are there any new opportunities created?
Chen: With the massive improvement in speed and stability, Wi-Fi 6 is set to transform existing business models. There will be major advances in technologies including IoT, Edge AI, machine learning and cloud computing, among others.

There will be a huge demand for video content, across sectors, as people consume data including informative demos, how-to videos, marketing campaigns and other personalised content. Sectors like marketing and digital media will also see major changes in consumer engagement via online strategies.

There will also be a surge in live online webinars and tutorials to drive engagement and  improve brand visibility. Even functions like HR may undergo changes, as the video might become thepredominant method of employee onboarding.

It is imperative that enterprises and sectors begin to prepare for the shift to Wi-Fi 6 to ensure they are ready for the transformative technology.

EB: What verticals will see the fastest adoption of Wi-Fi 6 and why?
Chen: The consumer and home broadband verticals will see the fastest adoption of Wi-Fi 6. In the consumer vertical, products that include smartphones, AIoT, home entertainment and gaming will adopt Wi-Fi 6 due to its increased speed and better Quality of Service (QoS).

The home broadband vertical (home gateways and routers) will see massive adoption, as it  is the access point that needs to connect all the aforementioned Wi-Fi 6 client devices to the Internet.

EB: Which verticals is Wi-Fi 6 most crucial for? And why?
Chen: Multiple devices and massive bandwidth have always been touted as the key drivers  for Wi-Fi’s success, in general. This has become all the more important in today’s challenging environment such as work from home, distance learning and ‘touch-less’ human interactions.

Wi-Fi 6 is uniquely positioned to address and improve the user experience for each of these
scenarios. Many experts are projecting that work from home mandates may be the new  normal given the possible re-occurrence of the present pandemic.

Taiwan-headquartered Mediatek designs and supplies processors for various commercial and consumer devices. One of the largest fabless semiconductor companies in the world, it
designs chipsets for smart TVs, voice assistant devices, Android tablets, feature phones, as well as optical and Blu-ray DVD players.

Wi-Fi 6 is faster and allows more devices to be connected at the same time, leading to higher quality and a more stable and professional at-home experience.

Similarly, distance learning may replace, or at the very least, augment the previous in-place  and live learning programmes. The improvement in uplink QoS means students can better interact with their teachers in real-time. Touchless modes of communication and services  have arisen in e-health and even in regular everyday interactions.

High-fidelity images and video feeds are needed to support such applications and preserve as much of the human-to-human interaction as possible. Wi-Fi 6 is set to be a truly  indispensable part of our daily lives.

EB: What necessary changes will devices and technology creators have to implement in order to enjoy the benefits of Wi-Fi 6?
Chen: While it is possible to connect Wi-Fi 6 to all Wi-Fi compatible devices, it is necessary to ensure that both devices (the access point or source and the client or receiver) are Wi-Fi 6 certified if consumers are to enjoy the full range of benefits.

The technology provides major advantages like blazing speed and power savings, but these  can only be enjoyed on a certified device. Many Tier 1 device makers including Samsung, Apple and Asus have already launched Wi-Fi 6 devices and will continue to do so.

In addition, Wi-Fi will also be further improved given the new spectrum being released by worldwide regulatory bodies. As an example, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced that it will open up 1200MHz of spectrum in the unlicensed 6GHz band.

This allows the Wi-Fi industry to offer new Wi-Fi 6E devices to ensure users can benefit from additional capacity, wider channels and a less congested spectrum.

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