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IEEE 802.11bn Ultra High Reliability (UHR), a.k.a. Wi-Fi 8

Back in 2020 we looked at the introductory post of Wi-Fi 7 which was followed up by a more detailed post in Feb 2022. We are now following on with an introductory post on the next generation Wi-Fi. 

A new paper on arXiv explores the journey towards IEEE 802.11bn Ultra High Reliability (UHR), the amendment that will form the basis of Wi-Fi 8. Quoting selected items from the paper below:

After providing an overview of the nearly completed Wi-Fi 7 standard, we present new use cases calling for further Wi-Fi evolution. We also outline current standardization, certification, and spectrum allocation activities, sharing updates from the newly formed UHR Study Group. We then introduce the disruptive new features envisioned for Wi-Fi 8 and discuss the associated research challenges. Among those, we focus on access point coordination and demonstrate that it could build upon 802.11be multi-link operation to make Ultra High Reliability a reality in Wi-Fi 8.

The IEEE 802.11bn UHR: Whose Study Group (SG) was established in July 2022 to support URLLC. The UHR SG will produce a new PAR defining the set of objectives, frequency bands, and technologies to be considered beyond 802.11be. The current plan is to form the UHR TG by November 2023, with a traditional single release standardization cycle that will last until 2028. This activity will define the protocol functionalities of future Wi-Fi 8 products, mainly focusing on these aspects to be improved with respect to 802.11be:

  • Data rates, even at lower signal-to-interference-plus-noise ratio (SINR) levels.
  • Tail latency and jitter, even in scenarios with mobility and overlapping BSSs (OBSSs).
  • Reuse of the wireless medium.
  • Power saving and peer-to-peer operation.

Discussions are ongoing on the specific performance targets. 

IEEE 802.11 AI/ML Topic Interest Group (TIG): Established alongside EHT TG and UHR SG to explore the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in Wi-Fi. This TIG aims to evaluate the feasibility of specific AI/ML-based features that could enhance Wi-Fi 8-and-beyond networks while coping with their increasing complexity.

One potential use of AI/ML is in determining optimal configurations for OBSSs, including RU assignments, carrier frequencies, modes of operation, and radiation beams and nulls. While AI/ML-driven protocols could prevent undesirable phenomena such as worst-case delay anomalies [10], currently they are primarily proprietary and limited to devices from the same vendor, making standardization and access to a wider range of data statistics crucial.

Wi-Fi 8 will be the first generation aiming to improve the protocol’s reliability, with a focus on service availability and delay guarantees. Four critical aspects impacting reliability in the unlicensed spectrum are being investigated: seamless connectivity, abundant spectrum, determinism, and controlled worst-case delay. Fig. 2 depicts examples for each, with their chief opportunities and challenges discussed in the sequel.

The key features being investigated for Wi-Fi 8 are:

  • Seamless Connectivity via Distributed Multi-link Operation (MLO)
  • Abundant Spectrum via Integrated mmWave Operations
  • Determinism via PHY and MAC Enhancements
  • Controlled Worst-Case Delay via AP Coordination

You can read the paper here.

As XR evolves to Metaverse and a lot more applications and use cases become popular, Wi-Fi is expected to play a huge role in ensuring the quality of experience these new technologies deserve. This is where Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 8 will have a huge role to play.

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