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What’s on Tap for Wireless in 2020?

Dec. 23, 2019
Editor Bill Wong looks at some of the wireless technology trends that will be headlining in 2020.

A number of technological forces are driving wireless advances, from video streaming to IoT to automotive advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS). They’re pushing the limits of bandwidth and coverage with a host of solutions emerging, but challenges remain from testing and deployment to spectrum allocation.

The FCC’s recent reduction in bandwidth available for dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) used in ADAS systems is just one change that can significantly affect the adoption and deployment of new technologies. The rise of 5G NR and this bandwidth revision could ultimately impact how V2X transportation technology is applied.

5G promises to improve both video-streaming support and low-bandwidth IoT deployment, but much of this is still in the future even as 5G deployment escalates. This leaves plenty of opportunity for Long Term Evolution machine-type communications (LTE-M) and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), as well as much of its competition in the unlicensed spectrum like LoRaWAN and Sigfox.

Local wireless-networking options in the unlicensed spectrum space continue to grow and improve, including protocols like Bluetooth, Zigbee, and 802.15.4. In particular, Bluetooth mesh is becoming a standard worth examining.

Wi-Fi’s expansion is widening with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) shipping in bulk and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) on the horizon. It and other wireless standards need to meet the demand for more bandwidth, and that means support for 4K video.

Wireless communication is just one of the many topics that will be covered by Microwaves and RF in 2020. The latest in other application areas, especially test & measurement and RF, will continue to be fixtures of our publication. On top of that, 2020 is shaping up to be full of new hardware deliveries across the board, with plenty of platforms for developers to choose from.

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