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What is Wi-Fi 6 and why you’re going to want it



Why all the 6G wireless talk before we even have 5G?
TechRepublic’s Karen Roby talks with ZDNet’s Scott Fulton about the future of 6G, the current status of 5G, and breaks down the difference between the two. Read more:

I have, let me see, seven Wi-Fi enabled devices currently running in my home office. That includes a tablet, a smartphone, five laptops, and a Roku streaming the last episode of Game of Thrones. That’s about par. According to Parks Associates, the average home in 2017 had nine Wi-Fi equipped devices. Offices have far more. That means distributing the internet to so much gear has become a real problem. That’s where Wi-Fi 6 comes in.

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is like its predecessors, faster than the standards, which came before it. How much faster? It depends.

The new Wi-Fi standard could be between four to ten times faster than 802.11ac. That’s the theory. In the real world, I expect it to be about 50% faster than the top-of-the-line networking gear you’re using today. This means you’ll see Gigabit speeds.

Keep in mind, though, that to see any speed increase both your client devices and your routers must be using Wi-Fi 6. When it comes to networking speeds — from the days when we were running our networks over frozen yellow snake with speeds of less than 10Mbps to today when our datacenters run at 10 Gbps speeds — a network is only as fast as its slowest connection.

So, yes, it will be faster, but that’s not all that big a deal. Where Wi-Fi 6 really shines is in distributing your network’s broadband across multiple devices. You’ve seen this problem yourself. You’re in a large venue before anyone is there and you’ve got plenty of bandwidth. But, as it fills up, your bandwidth drops to a slow crawl for an arthritic turtle.

Yes, part of the problem is you’re sharing the backbone internet connection with more people, but another major part of it is that the current generation of Wi-Fi routers can’t handle connecting efficiently to four or more devices at once. They can handle far more — and they do — but your device has to wait in a virtual line once there are more than four gadgets making a connection at once. Wi-Fi 6 doubles that to eight simultaneous connections by making better use Multi-User-Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology than earlier standard devices.

Wi-Fi 6 also makes good use of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (ODMFA), With earlier approaches, a Wi-Fi channel is kept open until your data transmission is completed. This leaves a lot of devices standing around waiting for their chance. With OFDMA, these channels are divided up into many smaller sub-channels. The net result is instead of lingering around for the next available channel, as many as 30 clients can share a channel instead of taking turns. 

What that means for you and your network is you’re much less likely to see network delays because of congestion. So, instead of seeing your speeds collapse when more people are hooking into the network, Wi-Fi 6 can handle the load much more gracefully.

I like the idea of how Wi-Fi 6 will help in my networked home office. But where it’s really going to be worth the money is for any business supporting dense device environments, such as convention centers, hotels, schools, and stadiums. If that’s your kind of company, start setting aside some capital budget for upgrading your wireless network infrastructure today. Wi-Fi 6 is an essential upgrade for these businesses.

Besides helping you personally, OFDMA enables low-bandwidth requests to transmit in parallel. This means you get reduced latency and jitter. As we depend ever more on networking for video and the Internet of Things (IoT) this will help both of those technologies live up to their potential.

IoT users will also benefit from a new feature called Target Wake Time (TWT). With this, routers can schedule check-in times. This will enable IoT devices to use less power since they won’t be constantly maintaining their net connections.

Put it all together and you want to start getting ready to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6. That said, don’t be in too much of a hurry. Wait until the technology is fully baked. Sure, as ABI Research Senior Analyst Andrew Zignani noted “Wi-Fi 6 pre-standard chipsets are readily available from numerous vendors including Broadcom, Qualcomm, Marvell, Quantenna, Intel, and Celenom,” but they are “pre-standard.” The Wi-Fi 6 standard hasn’t been nailed down yet. It will be completed later this year.

Today’s devices will probably work with their draft Wi-Fi 6 firmware, but you may not want to spend money on “probably.” Still, some Wi-Fi 6 routers are already available. These include the Asus RT-AX88U Dual Band 802.11ax Wi-Fi Router, Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80), and TP-Link Archer AX6000.

In any case, to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, your client equipment needs to be ready to support it. Today, that’s only a handful of devices. The next generation of PCs with Intel Ice Lake processors and smartphones with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processors are still quarters away from the mass market.

But, by year’s end or the beginning of 2020, you will want want to move to Wi-Fi 6. It will be a game changer.  

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Tesla Set To Deliver The First Semi To Pepsi



In October, Tesla’s CEO revealed that the production of the Tesla Semi had begun, and it was bound to be delivered today. Tesla has already started the countdown, and we expect the unveiling event to go down at the Nevada factory. The electric truck will be dispatched to Pepsi, which had ordered 100 units. Investor reports that Tesla’s stock price increased by 7.7% on Wednesday, probably in anticipation of Tesla’s Semi first delivery.

Musk tweeted on Saturday that the “Tesla team just completed a 500-mile drive with a Tesla Semi weighing in at 81,000 lbs!” However, considering that Musk said that the company is dealing with supply chain issues and market inflation, it’s unclear if Tesla will stick to the original $180,000 price it intended to sell at when it was announced in 2017. Then again, Tesla offers a cheaper Semi that will be available for about $150,000 — but it can only achieve up to 300 miles at full load capacity. For now, we can only wait until it’s on the road to confirm if the specs match up to what was promised five years ago.  

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Coinbase Joins Elon Musk In Slamming The Apple App Store Tax



Coinbase complained that Apple’s insistence on its cut unreasonably interfered with its business.

Coinbase’s argument was largely the same as Elon Musk’s, and the basis of Epic Games’ aforementioned lawsuit. According to all of the above, Apple was half of a duopoly: with Google, it controlled the global app marketplace. The “duopoly” part of the argument is pretty much incontrovertible: As of October 2022, both Apple and Google control 99.43% of the global smartphone market between them (via StatCounter). Both get a 30% cut of everyone’s action on its marketplace. From the perspective of Coinbase, that took too much money out of too many elements of its business.

Epic sued over that and, as noted above, won with an asterisk. Apple had restricted in-app purchases, and courts found that anticompetitive, but did require that Apple get a 30% cut of the profits, even though they took place in someone else’s app. In short, according to the Verge, the court said that if you’ve found a way to make money using iOS, you owe Apple 30%, period.

Epic thought in-app purchases should be exempted from the tax. Coinbase thinks elements of the NFT development process — in this case, gas prices to run the processing equipment necessary to mint NFTs — should be exempt from Apple’s app tax. Apple treats all user expenses on an app as in-app purchases and, per the Epic court decision, in-app purchases mean Apple gets a cut.

It’s not a simple problem, and it’s not likely to be solved anytime soon. Stakeholders and regulators have barely begun to integrate cryptocurrency and NFTs into the conventional marketplace. Who gets paid for what is likely to be a conversation for years on end. For now, all that’s certain is that conversation has begun.

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LastPass Security Breach Exposed Some Customer Data, But Details Are Still Slim



LastPass’ new blogpost continues to be vague about the nature of the latest security incident that has affected the platform. What it does reveal, however, is that the company recently detected yet another incident of “unusual activity” within a third-party cloud storage service connected to LastPass. LastPass stopped short of revealing details surrounding the affected third-party cloud service. However, TechCrunch has hinted at the possibility of the cloud service being AWS. For those unaware, starting in 2020, LastPass began using AWS (Amazon Web Services) to store more than a billion customer records on Amazon’s cloud.

LastPass goes on to add that the security incident prompted an immediate internal investigation, following which they ascertained that the threat actor was able to access “certain elements” of LastPass’ customer information. Interestingly, LastPass has also confirmed that the unauthorized party used data from the August 2022 incident to gain access to LastPass’ systems.

While LastPass hasn’t revealed the exact nature of customer information that has been breached, they maintain that customers’ passwords have not been affected. LastPass also said it had engaged the services of Mandiant — a leading security firm — to help them with the investigation. The company has also notified law enforcement agencies about the same. The company has promised to share more updates surrounding the latest incident after they conclude an internal investigation.

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