Minimum Bit Rate Impact on Outdoor Wi-Fi Network (2023)

By Sunil Narayanan, Aniyambeth, Comcast Cable Communication LLC

The Wi-Fi operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz which are unlicensed as per FCC (Federal Communications Commission) part 15. Th recent addition of 6GHz gave the Wi-Fi industry many more opportunities to explore. The IEEE formulated the 802.11 standards that became the guidelines for both STA (stations) and AP (Access Point) vendors to be able to design devices that operate on these allocated bands with full compatibility as per other focused bodies like WFA (Wi-Fi Alliance) and WBA (Wireless Broadband Alliance). The clients operating on these bands have basic rates defined. Here are Basic rates for 2.4GHz and 5GHz band: • The default basic rates (2.4Ghz): 1Mbps, 2Mbps, 5.5Mbps, 11Mbps • The default basic rates (5GHz): 6Mbps, 12Mbps, 24Mbps Basic Rates are the most backward compatible rate by which clients and APs can transmit and receive the RF (radio frequency) signals over the air. Typically, the management frames are transmitted at the basic rate defined. The default basic rate for 5GHz is 6Mbps, and for 2.4GHz 1Mbps is the basic rate for DSSS and HR-DSSS and when operating on ERP-OFDM PHY the basic rate is 6Mbps. The management frames will always be sent out at the lowest selected rate. So, selecting the minimum bit rate will help your BSS (basic service set) perform optimally in given RF conditions. As you increase your minimum bit rate, you can see your management frames are now transmitted at higher speed, reducing the management overhead, and minimizing the airtime utilization. This results in higher throughput and reduced cell edge connection, which improves the customer experience. The biggest challenge on an outdoor Wi-Fi network is to provide a good customer experience for a client throughout its journey. That is, associating to an access point, experiencing high quality content without degraded Wi-Fi experience, and seamlessly transitioning or disassociating from the current access point to another access point nearby or connecting to a cellular network. There are multiple Wi-Fi optimization techniques and adjusting the minimum bit rate or basic rate is one of the techniques.

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