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Qualcomm Expands Chip Line to Drive Wi-Fi 6

by Chris Taylor | Sep 12, 2019

With Qualcomm’s new Wi-Fi 6 platforms, users will benefit from better Wi-Fi performance even in lower-priced devices.

In August 2019, Qualcomm announced its Networking Pro series platforms using new, enhanced IPQ processors.  These processors support new Wi-Fi 6 features including uplink MU-MIMO and uplink OFDMA for higher capacity and network efficiency.

The new Networking Pro processors are available in four variants for different infrastructure price / performance tiers, giving OEMs more choices and pushing MU-MIMO and other features down from the premium tier into mid- and low tier infrastructure.

  • The new Networking Pro platforms are based on the earlier IPQ8074, Qualcomm’s first baseband and network processor for Wi-Fi 6.  This forms the Wi-Fi networking brain in many of the premium Wi-Fi 6 access points and routers (i.e. Wi-Fi infrastructure) now shipping to store shelves, enterprise and internet service provider customers.
  • Some of the features supported by Qualcomm in the new Networking Pro platforms such as uplink MU-MIMO are ahead of the 802.11ax standard, the first version of which the IEEE is expected to approve in January 2020.  The second version could come a year later.  Qualcomm anticipates no significant changes to its platforms will be required to remain compliant to the standard.

Qualcomm’s new Wi-Fi 6 platforms for infrastructure and a new offering for client devices will mean faster adoption of Wi-Fi 6 and improved user experience, but it could also lead to lower Wi-Fi market share for competitors including Broadcom, which has staunchly resisted 8 x 8 MU-MIMO so far.  Wi-Fi PA-FEM suppliers Skyworks and Qorvo may also need to adjust their Wi-Fi 6 product strategies to account for Qualcomm’s new platforms.

Subscribers to the Strategy Analytics RF & Wireless Components service can read more on this topic in the report Qualcomm Broadens Wi-Fi 6 Portfolio: Who Wins and Loses?

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