194 | Who’s Ready for 6GHz? A Discussion on the Future of Wi-Fi with Chuck Lukaszewski [Podcast]

Episode 194

Who’s Ready for 6GHz?
A Discussion on the Future of Wi-Fi with
Chuck Lukaszewski

We’ve had some big Wi-Fi news last week with the FCC chairman putting out a new press release and a new vote coming April 23rd all about 6GHz.

There has been a lot of desire in the wireless LAN professionals community to get some more spectrum. And it looks like we’re actually going to get some, which is very good.

Keith talks to Chuck Lukaszewski from Aruba HP on their involvement in this process and what we can expect moving toward 6GHz frequency?

Chuck’s presentation on 6GHz from WLPC

Our Guest:

Chuck Lukaszewski

Chuck Lukaszewski

VP, Wireless Strategy & Standards HPE


Intro: [00:00:00] Wireless LAN Professionals Podcast Episode 194.

Keith: [00:00:03] Well, this is gonna change all our lives. for you at HP, as well as infrastructure people, the wireless LAN professionals, as well as the client manufacturers.

Intro: [00:00:16] Wireless LAN professionals is a place to educate, inform, encourage and entertain those involved in wireless LANs. This Wireless LAN Professionals Podcast is an audio manifestation of these goals. Our host is a wireless LAN veteran, consultant, designer and teacher, Keith Parsons. And now The Podcast for Wireless LAN Professionals by Wireless LAN Professionals.

Keith: [00:00:41] Welcome back to Wireless LAN Professionals Podcast. My name is Keith Parsons, and today I have with me is Chuck Lukaszewski. He is the V.P. of Wireless Strategy and Policy out of the Office of the CTO of HP. Chuck, how are you doing today?

Chuck: [00:00:54] I’m doing great, Keith. Great to be back with you.

Keith: [00:00:56] Glad to have you. We had some big news last week with the FCC Chairman putting out a new press release and a new vote coming in a couple weeks on April 23rd.

Chuck: [00:01:07] We sure did.

Keith: [00:01:08] All about 6GHz. And so we’ve had a lot of desire inside of our community to get some more spectrum and it looks like we’re actually going to get some, which is very good.

And I know you’ve been working on this diligently for quite some time. So if we want to back up a little bit, you want to start us out? When did Aruba/HP and you get involved in moving toward 6GHz frequency?

Chuck: [00:01:35] Yeah, sure. So we began working on this in the middle of 2016 and started actually building the coalition of Wi-Fi industry companies that ultimately was successful or I should say, it appears to be successful in the effort.

The vote hasn’t actually happened yet. And so it’s been a very long time. And we’ve been active, as I’m sure you’ll raise later, not only in the United States but also in Europe, which has a separate parallel proceeding going on.

Keith: [00:02:09] And so there’s… we’ll talk through the FCC and to the EU. Is there any other 6GHz going elsewhere in the rest of the world?

Chuck: [00:02:16] So, yeah, a quick update on that. Most of it is in those two locations and within Europe, actually, the sort of the new development, if you will, is that the United Kingdom has become the first administration to actually proceed with a consultation to actually move ahead with rules for the band. So that’s exciting.

As you probably know the U.K. does have some discretion in certain areas with respect to spectrum policy. And in the past has moved quicker. We saw that in U-NII-1 and U-NII-3, for example, with them. Beyond Europe, we’re starting to see interest from other administrations. Korea is starting to look at this. I think India is also starting to look at it. But clearly, as we move into 2021, the emphasis is going to shift to the rest of the world.

Keith: [00:03:16] Well, that’s good to hear for everyone. Our Wi-Fi community is a little broader than just the US and EU. But if we can start it here with the FCC and set some ground… That allows everyone to get moving.

Chuck: [00:03:28] While we do have to go country by country for authorization, it is the case that the bulk of the 190-some-odd countries in the world actually follow either one rule set or the other, meaning ETSI rules or the FCC rules. They might tweak them a bit here or there, but we’re not generally starting from scratch in most countries.

Keith: [00:03:50] I did not know that. That’s good news. We have over, over the years we started with 2.4 Only that we got to 5GHz with U-NII-1, U-NII-3, U-NII-2. We had some issues in between. Is there anything in this new section we’re going to with this Wi-Fi 6E or the 6GHz? Are they also addressing the U-NII-4, the little gap band between what we currently have and what they’re talking about in 6Ghz?

Chuck: [00:04:17] So indirectly would be the answer. I’m sure some of your audience are aware there is a separate proceeding underway at NPRM in process for the 5.9 Band in the US and the comment round actually closed on that a few weeks ago and we’re in the reply phase now. So that is its own sort of can of worms, if you will, and that’s been very contentious in the past.

To answer your question directly, the way that it is relevant here is would be, the band edge masks, specifically the emissions limits from what will be the U-NII-5 band down into the U-NII-4 band. And there’s a fair bit of debate about that in the other proceeding. But here, the commission has proposed just a straight-up -27dBm per MHz limit. That’s what’s in the draft order and I assume that’s what we’ll be getting.

Keith: [00:05:22] And so the 6GHz, this whole 1.2Ghz we’re looking at is separate and they have a different set of proceedings than the U-NII-4?

Chuck: [00:05:30] Correct.

Keith: [00:05:31] Is that even close or is that contentiousness still continuing?

Chuck: [00:05:35] It just kicked off, actually. So honestly and you know, my particular company is not as involved in that particular proceeding, we’re obviously supportive of it. But there is, without getting too far the 6GHz track, there has been a long-running debate, as I’m sure you know, that spectrum was set aside for, you know, intelligent transportation systems, almost as long ago as the original Wi-Fi 5GHz spectrum was set aside.

And of course, it has only recently been put to use by the automotive industry. And so the question, the argument has been around, what is now the best use of that spectrum and is it you know, is it a 3GPP technology? Is it IEEE technology, and on and on. So it’s a very complicated issue and companies that are completely unified at 6GHz, don’t see eye to eye on 5.9.

Keith: [00:06:36] Well, I’m glad it’s separate then so we can move forward with 6GHz. Well, let’s get on with the 6 GHz. There’s obviously a bunch of legalese and things that have been going on for four years. And though that’s terribly important, of how we got here, I think our audience is more interested in the tech. So let’s jump over to the tech side of this.

In 6GHz in the US, FCC, we’re looking at 1.2GHz Some fifty-nine 20MHz channels, twenty-nine 40MHz channels. And obviously, in the show notes, we’ll put some graphics on this. What are those four bands, the U-NII-5, 6, 7 and 8? How are they going to be treated differently from a power, an indoor/outdoor, all those issues, if you could kind of just give us a recap on what’s going on in that huge bandwidth we have coming in front of us.

Chuck: [00:07:26] Absolutely. You might want to link this podcast to the video that I delivered at #WLPC conference a couple of years ago that kind of talk through the band structure. The channel counts you mentioned are absolutely right. And I’ll make some comments on the graphic in a moment. But let’s just back up and clarify. So there are 4 different kinds of devices that are contemplated in the draft order. Three of them are AP classes and one of them is Client Devices. So the three AP classes work like this: there is what we’re calling “low-power indoor”.

And so as the name implies, it’s indoor only. We should probably talk about how that’s enforced. There’s a new power constraint that works out to 27dBm in 160MHz channel or 24dBm and an 80MHz channel. So that’s where the “low-power” bit comes from. And that class, this is really amazing, right? It is going to be permitted across the entire 1,200MHz of the band with no further constraints beyond the protections to keep the devices basically inside the four walls and the power constraints.

Keith: [00:08:58] Does this where I have to go “Wooh”.

Chuck: [00:09:00] Yeah.

Keith: [00:09:02] That’s really, really good news.

Chuck: [00:09:03] And we’ve had to fight so hard on this and it’s been touch and go for a while. But the commission ultimately has decided to take really bold action. But the news is quite different for the other two device classes. So can I just run through those quickly?

Keith: [00:09:20] Sure. Yeah.

Chuck: [00:09:22] So that’s indoor. So then what about outdoor? And then what about mobile or transportable APs like your your smartphone, for instance, or your car? So “fixed outdoor devices” or alternately “fixed indoor devices” that are higher power than we were just talking about are going to be controlled by what’s called an Automatic Frequency Coordination System or AFC. And this is a super lightweight version of a spectrum database that you’ve heard about in the CBRS bands or maybe the TV whitespace bands.

And we talk later about the rules and timeframe on that. But those devices are only permitted in two of the U-NII bands, so U-NII-5 and U-NII-7. That’s still a considerable amount of spectrum. It’s 850MHz of spectrum. But there is a gap in the middle, in the U-NII-6 band. And in the diagram, I think you’re showing with this, you’ll notice that some of the channels have a slight grey color to them. Those are the channels that would not be permitted for an AFC device because they overlap, or they’re inside the U-NII-6 and U-NII-8 band. So we’ll have fewer channels available for AFC devices, even before we get to the spectrum database deciding what’s actually usable in a particular location.

Keith: [00:10:52] Is that because the incumbents in 6 and 8 “won”? I mean, that they’re already there. Is that two different groups of incumbents that are in U-NII-6 and in U-NII-8?

Chuck: [00:11:02] So actually U-NII-6 and U-NII-8 are similar, very similar incumbents. And that’s why they’ve been carved out. And the challenge there is, there’s a lot of mobile use. So they’re used heavily by public safety, police helicopters, mobile command centers, that sort of thing. But also, these are the primary, what’s called electronic news-gathering bands. So the TV trucks with the pop up antennas and the mobile, the cameras you see on the sideline at the NFL games and so on. These are all running in U-NII-6 or U-NII-8.

Keith: [00:11:41] Because of your work and research, you were able to get the FCC to allow the LPI, the low power, even in those bands because it didn’t interfere with those incumbents?

Chuck: [00:11:50] Yeah, correct. And of course, you know, there’s been quite rich arguments about this in the record and, you know, various broadcast interests. Don’t see eye to eye with the Wi-Fi community. And what really I think finally moved the needle on this is, you know, the cable industry should be really commended here. They got deeply involved in the effort, particularly towards the end of last year. And they filed a number of studies in addition, that were complimentary to the studies that had already been put together by the RLAN community.

And significantly, of course, in particular, one of the primary cable companies is owned by a major broadcaster. And they concluded after extensive testing and simulation that these devices were going to be safe. So I certainly don’t want to suggest that the broadcast community is fully in agreement here but the degree of study that occurred was such that the commission ultimately found the studies from the Wi-Fi community and the cable community were the most compelling.

Keith: [00:13:06] That’s good news. The third section. What’s the third type then?

Chuck: [00:13:10] So the third kind of AP is what is called “very low power”. And this is an indoor-outdoor class similar to AFC. But the idea is it’s super low power. It’s basically 25mW or 14dBm EIRP, is what industry had been, really, not just requesting, but we’ve been arguing is, really the floor. We can’t go any lower. And these devices would be used for an incredible range of personal area network applications.

So, you know, the one that we talk about a lot is AR and VR, right? If you think the idea, the Oculus headset, you know, talking to your your 5G phone, for instance, you know, because, Wi-Fi is one of the killer apps for 5G, of course. But also we had argued that in-car access points, any kind of mobile or vehicular access points, this is a perfect power level for that kind of thing.

You could imagine a new generation of game controllers talking to next Generation Xbox type devices and use cases we can’t even think of yet. I mean, we haven’t had the ability to do, you know, multiple gigabits per second, you know, in under 10 meters in the mid band is unprecedented, right? And this is part of the innovation that we expect this order is going to unleash.

But anyway, we were a little disappointed that the commission didn’t feel that the record was sufficiently developed on this device class. And so as part of the draft order, there is also what’s called an FNPRM, “Further Notice of Proposed Rule-making”. And basically we’re going to run another lap here. The FNPRM is very focused on really two questions.

The first is, is determining whether VoIP devices really can be permitted in the band. And of course, we feel very strongly that they can, and have quite a lot of technical arguments to that effect. And then the second question is taking a relook actually at the LPI power levels. There’ve been arguments that you’d actually be safer to go even a little hotter there. And the commission is going to take that up. So, therefore, they’re focused just on those two questions. And then finally, the client, the client devices are permitted across the band.

And because, of course, we have LPI across all 1,200 megahertz. And the basic approach that they’ve taken there to protecting the incumbents is that they’re, they’re going to enforce a power differential between the client and the access point of 6dB. And there’s some confusion, and we’re working to clarify this now, whether it’s 6dB below the peak power or 6dB below the current operating power of the AP, but anyway, that’s how the clients will work.

Keith: [00:16:19] That question’s more, is it a dynamic 6dB or is it a fixed 6dB down from the peak?

Chuck: [00:16:25] Exactly. And part of the reason we think the commission’s intent and this would be consistent with past proceedings is that, it was from the peak. I mean, it doesn’t really make sense, if the AP is already using a lower power, right. And of course, the rule should incentivize using the lowest power possible. Then, you know, if I’m already at a 10dB effective EIRP, why should I have to run the client at 4, right? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Keith: [00:16:53] Yeah

Chuck: [00:16:53] So anyway, we’re we’re going to clarify that one. But broadly speaking, I would tell you that the structure that we just walked through, you know, well, there’s a couple of disappointments happening around BLP.

And one aspect of AFC, we could talk about. This order is incredibly significant. It’s the most consequential, spectrum regulatory decision in at least a generation in this country. It will be profoundly impacting for not only the used cases we all serve today, but it is going to unleash incredible new kinds of innovation with the speeds that become available within the propagation we have in this range.

And I think even more importantly, there are global, socio-political consequences to this decision because the FCC is going beyond what any other country is considering. Basically opening up 1,200MHz. Bottom line is that Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies are at a very secure footing. They have become fundamental parts.

We’re almost 30% of the mid band in the United States. Which is a profound statement about the work everybody in the community has done with this technology and the impact it has on consumers and businesses is just across the whole economy.

Keith: [00:18:31] Well, it’s at least 2x, probably 2.3, 2.4x more than we have today, which gives us a lot of running room to move into. And if I’m just going to recap what you’ve said, the type 1, the low-power indoor, that’s across the entire 1.2GHz along with…

Chuck: [00:18:49] Correct

Keith: [00:18:49] …the associated clients and that whether or not the other two things happen, that one’s going through on this round.

Chuck: [00:18:57] Yes, correct. And I expect, I mean, if you just go by public statements from other companies, you know, we, HP hasn’t made any product announcements. I just want to be very clear. But other companies have talked about timelines for product. And of course, Broadcom introduced their full 6GHz client chipset lineup in January. So, a number of companies have made clear that they intend to have products, at least in the consumer market, in time for the holiday season this year.

Keith: [00:19:31] Not shocked at all, but actually very pleased to see it. That’s the way it moves. Well, one of the questions, and by the way, you’re on Twitter now. “@RF_chuck” Thank you. We can’t call you “no Twitter Chuck” anymore. One of the discussions we’ve seen was there’s a new way of talking about EIRP compared to what we used before. And you said it’s based on tying it to 5dBm per MHz. Can you go through how that works different than the current EIRP, how we see the world today?

Chuck: [00:20:04] Yeah, I’d be very happy to. And this is really huge for us. But it’s a different way of thinking. And of course, the fact that we’re going to basically have different power rules, not only between 5 and 6GHz, but even within the 6GHz band because AFC devices are going to work the old way. It is going to just take a little bit of time to get people’s heads wrapped around. And I smell some new CWNA curriculum here.

Keith: [00:20:33] Yeah, it is. I mean, I’ve been doing this for quite a while and it took me a while to wrap my head around it. And the effect is it’s going to not just affect EIRP, it’s also, some of the downsides of going to 40 or 80 or 160MHz is we lose SNR today. And with this new method, we don’t. So can you explain that to us?

Chuck: [00:20:53] Yes. So I think if you put up the graphic for this, so the chart that we’re showing, you know, I’ll just use a comparison of basically what everybody is familiar with today in 5GHz with how the low-power indoor rules will work and in 6GHz. So just as a reminder, right. So what we have today in that everybody’s used to, is what, for the sake of discussion, I’ll call constant EIRP. In other words, if you think about it, a DFS channel, that is allowed 30dBm or one watt. That power is constant regardless of what the bandwidth is, right. So whether you’re running an 80MHz, 160 in the future, right?

The next Wi-Fi 7 will support 320MHz channels. Believe it or not. So that 30dBm of constant EIRP is spread out across the bandwidth. And of course the problem with that is this folks that have taken their CWNP certifications know is that, the noise floor also increases the wider the operating bandwidth. And so what ends up happening is that your net EIRP decreases with bandwidth. So, for example, in 20, in you know, the smallest 20MHz channel, right. If we’ve got 30dBm to work with and then we go to 40MHz channel, we actually end up at 27dBm effective EIRP, right. And when I say effective or net, I’m just subtracting the noise floor difference from the EIRP that is coming out of the antenna.

Keith: [00:22:41] And we do we normally refer to that, as we, we have 3dB less SNR as we go to a wider channel.

Chuck: [00:22:47] Yeah, correct. But in this presentation, it’s tricky because normally we apply the noise floor a little lower down in the link budget and here, I’m doing it at the top of the link budget.

Keith: [00:22:58] Then that effect is the same, you go wider channel, you lose 3dB?

Chuck: [00:23:01] Exactly. And so, you know, beyond just the constraints that we don’t have enough spectrum to really use all the, you know, the 80 megahertz channels are DFS encumbered and the which is why people run 40s. But there’s also this basically penalty to go wider in 5GHz. So if you jump to 6GHz, this is what’s so incredible about this rule. It basically eliminates this new power method called constant PSD or Power Spectral Density.

Basically means that the power is independent of the bandwidth. And so there is no penalty. Whatever bandwidth you use, you can be assured that you’ll have exactly the same net EIRP. And so that where I’m showing that at the bottom of the diagram for a couple different channel list. In 20 megahertz, right. Now, one consequence of this limit is that the total power, the total EIRP is now dependent on the bandwidth. So, you know, you basically add 13 for 20MHz and you get to 18. Whereas in 160MHz channel, right, to maintain that constant PSD, we actually have to add power.

So that’s a 27dBM EIRP or a net of 18. So it’s very exciting here because I think, you know, what I’ve heard that are going on on Twitter and elsewhere and you’ll see blogs, for me to this effect. There is absolutely no reason why we don’t go straight to 80MHz as the default channel width in most managed deployments. I could see in certain kinds of high density deployments going to 40, for instance. But 20, you know, I’m one of the biggest proponents of 20s and I have a hard time imagining how I would use 20 in this band.

Keith: [00:25:02] It is actually a fairly fundamental change in how we think of things. Normally when we think of we need more frequency, more channels and it’s all about spectrum re-use. Well, now we have this huge chunk of spectrum we can play with. One of the downsides was, oh, “if you go to a wider channel, you lose that SNR little 3dB gap”.

Well, if that’s gone, now the only other reason to use a narrow channel would be co-channel interference. But we have so many to choose from now. In most scenarios I can see not needing to. I mean, we’ve got 14 new eighties. There’s a lot of places they don’t run across. And even if you do, you disrupt the 40s and you have 29. I can’t imagine a building that I won’t have spectral re-use with twenty nine 6Ghz plus. You know, I’ve got all my 5Ghz. There’s another twelve rooms sitting there as well, so.

Chuck: [00:25:54] Well think of it this way. There are more 80s in 6GHz than there are 40s in 5 GHz,

Keith: [00:25:59] Yeah

Chuck: [00:26:00] It’s that simple. And so this is why we fought so hard to open the whole band. And I should add that actually doing this across the whole band is part of the mitigation strategy to protect incumbents. And the reason for that is if you’re concentrating energy in smaller amounts of spectrum, right. Then we present a bigger interference profile in that spectrum. So by distributing, the load, if you will, across the whole 1,200MHz, it’s actually safer from a co-existence perspective.

Keith: [00:26:37] Again, and we’ve got a new way to look at the world here. So with all these channels, there’s a couple of issues that come up. I’ll ask a two part question here. The first part is, what’s the channel numbering scheme going to be? And what’s in, the second, with, you know, say we went with 20s, there’s 59 of them. Is there anything you know of on the IEEE side about not having to scan a hundred channels when you’re trying to do a roam?

Chuck: [00:27:08] Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, this is a fairly obvious issue. You know, that’s a consequence of this abundance that we were gonna have from a channel perspective. So in terms of, in terms of scanning, the short answer is “yes”. IEEE community is way out in front on this. This was identified early on. And the, if you’ll recall. I know. There are not as many WiGig devices in the market as certainly I would like and other people would like.

And there’s probably a whole other podcast on that subject because the next generation of 60GHz silicon is upon us. And I think you’re going to see a lot more equipment very shortly. But anyway, 60GHz, there’s a thing called FST or “fast session transfer”.

And IEEE community did a bunch of work, basically around cross-band discovery and I’ll say roaming, but it’s more complex than that. So my point is that there was a foundation of work that was already in the standard for that purpose. And so that’s been extended or harnessed, if you will, to simplify 6GHz discovery.

And so the way that we’re thinking of it right now, is that most devices are, most clients in particular that are 6GHz capable are also, of course, going to be 5GHz capable. And so they will scan probably on the 5GHz band and access points will be multi-band. They’ll have to be. We can talk about that a minute. Actually, there’s no choice.

And so, an access point will advertise on its 5GHz radio information about the 6GHz channel sets that are available. And potentially even the standard permits for a client base to associate to a 6GHz radio and negotiated effectively over another band, in this case, 5GHz. So that’s just shortened. That should reduce greatly, actually, the control and management traffic on 6GHz, which is another advantage because it actually reduces the clutter even though it’s a greenfield band from a Wi-Fi perspective. It certainly will be beacons. Right. But we’re gonna, there won’t be the kind of probing activity that you’re used to seeing in other band.

Keith: [00:29:46] I could imagine a stadium with, you know, 50,000 people all probing all 59 channels.

Chuck: [00:29:52] Yeah. It would be a little much. And then you asked about channel numbering. What’s currently in the standard. I don’t know if you folks know this is kind of arcane, but the channel number is actually basically an 8 bit field. And so we, because of the number and of course, as folks know, the you know, in 5GHz, the channel numbers actually go by up by four at a time. So with 59 channels, we actually can just barely fit in the 8 bit field.

And so what’s going to happen is we’re going to start over at 1, at the bottom of the U-NII-5 band and it’ll be its own operating class. So you’ll have to just get used to the fact that, now to uniquely identify a channel, it’ll be, I guess, a tuple of the band, comma, channel number.

Keith: [00:30:48] So like U-NII-5, 7.

Chuck: [00:30:51] Yeah.

Keith: [00:30:51] Would be a 20MHz

Chuck: [00:30:53] Correct. Yeah. Depending on how exactly it lays down but yes. It’d be 1 5. It’s be 9, 9 actually 7 ,7 would be the probably the 40 channel. If I’m doing my math correctly.

Keith: [00:31:06] So we will have a whole new way to evaluate and look at this.

Chuck: [00:31:09] More, more certification curriculum.

Keith: [00:31:12] Just what we need, more. Going in the U-NII-5 right now since we’re using 20s and they kind of start at fifty nine twenty five. They don’t line up exactly with U-NII-6 and U-NII-7. Is there a way to shift those so we can free up a couple more? If you just start. I was trying to rebuild a new graphic for this. And if you started 20, 59, 25, and add 20, 20, 20, 20, as you get out, when you get to U-NII-6, you kind of split one of those 20s isn’t quite, quite clean there.

Chuck: [00:31:44] Yeah. Understood.

So, by the way, just a quick correction. So this Channel 7 is the first 80, just to be clear, since I know people are going to fact check me here. So I pulled up the actual band, playing with the numbers.

So, yeah. So the lower 20 you’re talking about is basically from a Wi-Fi perspective going to be reserved as a guard band. And this is going to be enforced on us primarily in Europe. Originally we were looking at maybe a 59, 35 start for Channel 1. And I’m talking about the lower edge of the channel, not the center frequency now.

But because of some of the incumbents. Europe has an incumbent that we don’t have in the US which is called CBTC, it’s Communication Based Train Control. And it’s basically a transportation safety system for rail. And this is deployed in various countries, including France and the Netherlands. And these systems are authorized up to 59, 35.

And so we need, one outcome of the coexistent studies is that we needed a separate guard band to protect those systems. And so the whole channel plan is actually shifting out to start at 59, 45, which is what’s shown in the diagram. And the consequence of that, is that all the channel sizes, the 20 to 40 to 80 and the 160 come to a nice even stop at the top of the U-NII-5 band. And then U-NII-6, they start over again.

I understand what you’re suggesting basically to tuck in an extra 20 at the very bottom. And it’s possible that a different technology might actually be able to do that. So in 5GHz, this is trivia for radio geeks here, but the LTE systems in 5GHz licenses system access systems, are actually using what we would call Channel 32. And the reason they can do that is, of course, they’ve got it’s much more expensive equipment and they’ve got really excellent filtering. Right?

So they’ve got these sort of brick wall filters on either side, and they can still meet the band Edge Emission Mask and transmit on that channel. But of course, our equipment is, you know, it’s much, much different kind of price and cost target. And we’re just never going to be capable of that. So that’s why we need to guard that.

Keith: [00:34:29] I didn’t know about that. We’re going to have a whole new channel plans coming out of this. And we have a whole new way to learn. So when you said there’s fifty-nine 20s, does that mean, does that include that first one or is that first one already shifted over?

Chuck: [00:34:42] No. That is net of guard bands. Fifty nine usable 20s.

Keith: [00:34:47] So much more to learn. Then again, you know it gives us a lot of future for us to play in this world. So going this route with this much, we’re going to obviously have tri-band or maybe even quad-band radios. What do you think that’s going to do to from a up-costing standpoint instead of looking at a current enterprise AP in the thousand to fifteen hundred dollar range for the top line. Is that going to boost that up by a significant margin?

Chuck: [00:35:17] Yes. So I think I want to be careful about commenting there. Both because we haven’t announced anything, and of course I don’t. I’m on the CTO or research side of the house and I don’t want to speak for. Everybody knows Anno of course, on the PLM team. I think if you look at history as more and more value has been delivered in, essentially the same form factor. Right.

You know, I think, there’s been a desire to try to, recognize or monetize some of that value. And of course, APs, do a lot more than just provide broadband access now. Right. They provide Bluetooth to be access. And, you know, the Aruba APs right now. You know, we’ve shared a USB port for a long time and we’re doing things like gunshot detection. And we’re doing electronic shelf labels via the USB port. The AP, quote unquote, is actually a platform for doing a ton of different things. So anyway, that’s a roundabout answer to your question.

Keith: [00:36:32] It was hard. It was a difficult question. I apologize for trying to get the pricing in there. There will be a third radio. This isn’t a “oh, we’ll just get a radio that’s 5 all the way to 7.”

Chuck: [00:36:45] Yeah. Let me just speculate. And again, I want to stress I’m not making product decisions or announcements here, but I’ll just, you know, since obviously the audience knows me and I know the audience, let me just offer a perspective at this moment in time. And we’ll see what actually gets built. Right? So clearly there will be tri-band products. And that is an obvious configuration.

If I could digress for a second, how people should be thinking about the 5 and the 6 band over the next couple of years. Because if you haven’t really been in the middle of it, there’s really no reason to think about it. It is the case that it will be necessary to run a separate 5 and 6 GHz overlay network for the foreseeable future. And the reason for that very simply is that we have, you know, 15 billion devices in the field that can’t do 6GHz.

So f you’re thinking, “oh, we can just combine 5 and 6 into one massive, uber pool of capacity and distribute the channels, sprinkle them around. We are years away from that because a device that couldn’t do 6GHz would encounter holes in the channel plan.

Keith: [00:38:08] Kind of like a problem with DFS, Non-DFS issues

Chuck: [00:38:12] Exactly, we’ve been through this

Keith: [00:38:12] a couple years ago. We can salt and pepper it. With this many channels that’d be really difficult.

Chuck: [00:38:19] Just not a good idea. Yeah, exactly. And so just from a, just a migration perspective, I think we’re looking at at least five or six years until the 6GHz client penetration, gets to the 70, 80 percentile type range. And even then, I mean, we’re still arguing over, do we turn to for offer or not. In a lot of places. It’s probably the case that 5 and 6 are going to be independently distributed capacity pools, for a long time.

And there’s actually opportunity there if you start to think about it. If you start to get this idea in your head that there’s two layers. Well, then you can start to say, well, how can I put those layers to the best use? And deliver the best user experience. And it probably is the case that a 5GHz only device is going to have a better experience. The more 6GHz devices we can pull off to 6GHz the better the experience for 5.

Keith: [00:39:23] Just like our same with five and 2.4. 2.4 can’t go anywhere else. But if we take a device and put it up on 5 and made the 2.4 life better, we now extend that from five to six.

Chuck: [00:39:36] We can go back around this later. But just to come back to your original question on the AP form factors. 5 and 6 are gonna be separate radios. And then so if you tack on a 2.4 for completeness, there’s your tri-radio configuration. And so everybody’s gonna do that. And it will be more expensive. It’s more radio chains. It’s more PoE. Right. Or wall power. However, it’s configured.

And as I argued on Twitter the other day, adding 80 megahertz of capacity, which is a 1.2Gb Fi rate for just a 2×2 device, before we consider an multi-user MIMO. Realistically means that the APs are going to regularly exceed 1 gigabit per second at layer 2.

My advice to all of my, you know, architect friends and engineer friends that are listening is the FCC has overnight changed how you design access switching for your customers. At least for switchboards that are serving APs, your baseline is going from what I think even today is still probably a gigabit per second and 30 watt PoE, we are now solidly in NBASE-T what HP calls “Smart Rate” and 60W territory.

I think that is the new baseline and you would be very well served if you’ve got, if you’re doing it, for customers are doing edge refreshes right now, you ought to reconsider those refreshes in light of this development. So that’s kind of huge.

Keith: [00:41:32] I just want to stop and comment. That IS huge. That means our access layer, not just from speed standpoint, but the PoE, that’s doubling our PoE budget at the edge.

Chuck: [00:41:41] Yes. Yeah, exactly. And the reason for that, I mean, know, again, as the audience knows, right, we’re at twelve chains and sometimes more in a very high end configurations now. And radio chains are really hungry for power. And of course, additional radio slots are hungry for power. So again in the premium segment, the devices with the most features, they’re already kind of over the line I think in most of the first gen hardware. They might be right under the 30W line in a next generation. But this is going to kick them over the line.

Keith: [00:42:15] But that’s also the cost of of you know, the FCC gave us spectrum, or is about to. But the cost of that extra spectrum in that extra capacity, we’re going to have to re-evaluate our wired side of the infrastructure.

Chuck: [00:42:27] Yes, absolutely. So to my mind, the really interesting questions, OK. What happened? So that’s the premium segment, right? What happened? That’s not where the bulk of the volume is.The volume is in, is kind of the mid-price point. And so what happens there? Do you still need a ti- radio configuration? We’ve been, as an industry, we’ve really been confined to this notion of the dual band AP for 20 years almost.

And I argue that it is 60GHz is an opportunity to rethink that approach. In the past it was difficult to consider the other form factors because, customers were kind of used to it and they pulled cables based on a certain, radio propagation and so on. If you wanted to separate the 2.4GHz layer out from the 5GHz layer, you couldn’t really do that with a straight face. Because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

But now, it’s my belief and I’m speaking for Chuck here, I’m not speaking for the company, but I think there’s a real case to be made – there’s a dual band device that’s a 5 + 6. Or you could envision a 5 + 6 + 60. So you’re back to tri-band but in a different way. And that layer, if you will, could be more densely deployed and then you could have an IoT type of Access Point that’s 2.4GHz Wi-Fi plus.

Keith: [00:44:19] Zigby or something

Chuck: [00:44:19] And you frequency coordinate it. And now you can start to tell a very crisp story to customers about why it makes sense to invest in separate radio layers with very different propagation characteristics in that type of environment. I think it can be really interesting what the future brings here. And we haven’t had these kind of choices before.

Keith: [00:44:44] It’s actually, we’ve talked about this one a couple of years ago when you first presented and then last year and now it’s getting close. There’s a lot of brain power that’s going to have to go into re-figuring out how we infrastructure and architect and all those things. So. Wow!

Chuck: [00:44:59] Lots of work

Keith: [00:44:59] It’s good. But it’s kind of fun. We like this stuff. So if the 23rd of April is the next vote, what’s the timeline from that point forward?

Chuck: [00:45:11] So the FCC open meetings as you say on April 23rd. From that point forward to get product to market, basically, what we have to do is work with the FCC Lab to just finalize what is the certification process for the equipment? And we think that’s going to, since most of the rules are basically derived from 5GHz, we think that will be very similar.

So anyway, there’s some work there that’s separate from the order itself. Obviously, the products are in flight, at least on the consumer side of things. So, there really is nothing standing between April 23rd and shipping product for LPI. For AFC, we have more work to do and we have to work because there’s a spectrum database. And of course, the incumbents in the band have to have a say and we want to make sure that they’re fully protected. We have, you know, probably a year of work in front of us to work through the remaining issues that were not settled in the NPRM.

And then we have to design the certification procedures. So how does the FCC determine that an AFC device is is operating correctly? And even more importantly, how do we determine that a spectrum database is working correctly? In the CBRS bands we saw that process actually went on for over four years. We don’t think anything like that is going to be necessary in 6.

Keith: [00:46:46] So can you piggyback on some of the SAS work that they did for CBRS to just kind of piggyback? They already have the databases?

Chuck: [00:46:53] Absolutely. A part of the reason 6GHz is going to go so fast for AFC, which we hope anyway, is that so much of this work has been done. And the commission understands databases. They’ve been through it, you know, multiple times on different bands. And they were, they really hurt us. I mean, we argued, you know, as recently as two weeks ago in the record, that, it was really important that the commission settle some of the what I’ll call the most contentious points in the proceeding, because otherwise, you know, we were just going to go around and around, you know, without anybody giving ground.

And the record is sufficiently complete that it was time to just, you know, hear the verdict. And they really hurt us on that. And fortunately, we appear to have sort of convinced the commission, through extensive technical studies and a lot of hard work that was appropriate to decide things like the, “interference protection criteria”, what the “path loss model” is.

So some of the basic components of the AFC have all been laid out in the order. And what that means for products is that, again, we have, there’s a very specific set of homework that we have to do in partnership with the incumbents in the band. And I think that’s a very achievable set of work. And hopefully it is doable by, you know, maybe next summer.

Keith: [00:48:26] So that’s for the AFC, Standard power. What about the very low power? You have a whole new cycle to go through there, too?

Chuck: [00:48:33] We do. But this one should go hopefully quicker. So, you know, Commissioner O’Riley put out a statement after the draft order was released last week that he would like to see the FNPRM completed, in this calendar year. That would be incredible. But you know, the record, we’re almost four years into this, for the rest of the proceedings. So, you know, I’m holding my breath. But anyway, we’re optimistic that we can come to some solution that will enable these short range low power use cases.

Keith: [00:49:18] But the low-power indoor is, when they vote on the 23rd, this is pretty much a done deal and vendors can move forward.

Chuck: [00:49:25] Correct.

Keith: [00:49:25] That is fantastic news. Well, it’s going to change all our lives. You at HP as well as infrastructure people, the wireless nonprofessionals, as well as the client manufacturers. So we have a nice ride to go on. And Chuck, I just want to thank you for your time and that you’re on Twitter now so people can follow you.

Chuck: [00:49:49] @RF Chuck woo hoo!

Keith: [00:49:51] @RF_Chuck not the other guy Thanks again for your time. And if we have more questions and I’m sure we will, as this moves forward, I’ll get back and we’ll schedule another podcast.

Chuck: [00:49:58] Sounds great. Cheers.

Keith: [00:49:59] Thanks for your time.

Outro: [00:50:00] Thank you for joining us for another episode of the Wireless LAN Professionals podcast. The podcast for Wireless LAN Professionals by Wireless LAN Professionals. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @WirelessLANPros for all the latest news and updates and also connect directly with Keith on Twitter @KeithRParsons. Head over to www.wlanpros.com for this episode show notes as well as the latest in all things Wi-Fi.

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