What is Beamforming in WiFi?

Beamforming is a radio wave technology that is incorporated into the next generation IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ax standards. This mechanism allows the beamforming devices, mostly routers, to transmit the radio signals specifically in the direction of the devices requiring them mostly in the form of clients, thus creating a connection that is stronger, faster and enables more reliable connectivity with the internet. In the field, beamforming has been used widely in the large-scale antenna levels but its entry to the smaller Wi-Fi signal generation really looks on to revolutionize the whole wireless scenery.

Traditional signal generation is basically just spreading out radio signals everywhere around the Wi-Fi device whether or not any device is connected to the network. This network is present there regardless of the possibility that there might be a device requiring more focused signals.

Instead of that, a signal with the ability to focus and intentionally transmit the data it is carrying precisely in the direction of the device requiring it is what beamforming is all about. In more simple terminology, it offers everyone from students in dorms and auditoriums to families at home a great way of getting stronger and faster internet signals that spread over longer ranges where other networks might be creating interference to homeowners with dead spots in their wireless networks.

How Does Beamforming Work?

A beamforming device controls the phase and relative amplitude of the signals at every single transmitter to change the directionality of the array while transmitting in order to create a pattern of constructive and destructive interference in the wavefront of the signals generated. On the receiving end too, the information from different sensors is combined in a way where the expected texture of ration is observed with regards to the preference given to a specific signal.

 How is it used in the latest WiFi devices?

Beamforming is seemingly such a simple concept that you would simply wonder how no one thought about it before! It sounds just like a simple improvement in the traditional omnidirectional Wi-Fi technology but it is far more than just that. Beamforming involves a great deal of equipment standardization in order to work effectively. So, what does it mean for a Wi-Fi device to have a beamforming mechanism, and what does it mean for the connectivity of wireless devices with the internet?

In order to understand this concept, you first need to know how a traditional wireless set-up works.

Traditional operation of older WiFi networks

Older wireless systems that do not possess the beamforming technology use omnidirectional signals and send them out in the form of radio waves. Then, depending on the strength of the router’s transmission signals at specific places around the router and the location of receivers in devices such as laptops, printers, tablets TVs, etc. internet connectivity is established there. This means that a device’s precise position relative to the wireless Wi-Fi hotspot alters the strength of the received signal and consequently, has a large impact on the speed and performance of the device using the internet.

Impact on Wireless Devices?

In a wireless system using MIMO or MU-MIMO, you have multiple antennas radiating the same signals like waves in a pond, the interaction or interference of these waves with each other can have great effects especially if the network system does not compensate for this fact and this, as a whole, can lead to a signal-jamming and interrupted networking. This collision phenomenon is used by the beamforming mechanism in order to make the most of the locations where it is happening. This cleverer system can amplify the signals by letting them collide in just the right direction to improve the reception for the targeted devices. There are some significant benefits of a beamforming network system for devices:

  • Extended Wi-Fi coverage and reduction of dead spots in the network.
  • Delivery of stable Wi-Fi connection for voice and HD video calls or stream.
  • Better Wi-Fi throughput and data rates.
  • Removal of unnecessary RF interference.