From The Editor | December 11, 2023

What You Need To Know To Thrive in 2024

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By John Oncea, Editor


Three things to look for as we roll into 2024. We walk like Egyptians, play Nostradamus, and try to beat The Simpsons to the punch. But mostly, we look at quantum, directed RF, and Wi-Fi 7.

Prognosticators have been prognosticating forever; from the Egyptians and Babylonians 5,000 years ago to Nostradamus in the 16th century to The Simpsons today. Some of these predictions were based on science, some in pseudoscience, and some were just luck.

Even the RF industry has seen its share of predictions, including these beauties about the future of radio courtesy of Elon University (go Phoenix!):

  • A Boston Post editorial from 1865: “Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.”
  • Sir William Thomson, later Lord Kelvin, a Scottish mathematician and physicist, is quoted as saying in 1897: “Radio has no future.”
  • According to a report in Dunlap’s Radio and Television Almanac, Sir John Wolfe-Barry remarked at a meeting of stockholders of the Western Telegraph Company in 1907: “As far as I can judge, I do not look upon any system of wireless telegraphy as a serious competitor with our cables. Some years ago, I said the same thing and nothing has since occurred to alter my views.”
  • H.G. Wells wrote in “The Way the World is Going” in 1925: “I have anticipated radio’s complete disappearance … confident that the unfortunate people, who must now subdue themselves to listening in, will soon find a better pastime for their leisure.”

One RF pioneer, Lee de Forest, nearly went to jail in 1913 because, “He has said in many newspapers and over his signature that it would be possible to transmit human voice across the Atlantic before many years. Based on these absurd and deliberately misleading statements, the misguided public … has been persuaded to purchase stock in” the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company. De Forest was acquitted, but the judge advised him “to get a common garden-variety of job and stick to it.”

Well, De Forest chose to stick to his belief in radio and helped start the electronic age, enabling the development of the electronic oscillator along the way. Now, I’m not saying I’m going to make the same kind of mark as De Forest, but I am going to put myself out there with three predictions about what to pay attention to in RF in 2024.

Quantum And Space: A Match Made On A Super-Charged Computer

Quantum computing is a technology that has emerged as a potential game changer. Traditional signal processing techniques often struggle to keep pace with the exponential growth of data, resulting in inefficiencies and processing bottlenecks. Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits) to perform complex calculations. They excel in solving specific problems much faster than classical computers.

Quantum’s attributes make it perfect for space applications, a fact not lost on the European Space Agency (ESA) which plans to launch the EAGLE-1 satellite from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana sometime in 2024. Eagle-1 will be the first space-based quantum key distribution system to be developed under a partnership between ESA, the European Commission, and space companies in Europe, reports ESA.

“The satellite will pave the way toward an ultra-secure network that uses quantum key distribution – which uses the unbreakable laws of physics to distribute encryption keys in such a way that any attempt to eavesdrop is immediately detected – to keep information safe, significantly boosting European autonomy in cybersecurity and communications,” the agency writes. “Eagle-1 will demonstrate the feasibility of quantum key distribution technology within the EU using a satellite-based system. To do so, the system will build on key technologies developed under ESA’s Scylight program, with the aim of validating vital components supplied within the EU.”

The European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI) is being developed by SES, a satellite company based in Luxembourg. This system involves more than 20 European companies and aims to create a sovereign and autonomous cross-border quantum secure communications network. The EuroQCI will be integrated into the European secure connectivity system with the help of mission data provided by a satellite that will demonstrate and validate quantum key distribution technologies from low Earth orbit to the ground. This satellite will play a crucial role in preparing the EU for the development and deployment of the EuroQCI.

Despite quantum computing’s seemingly limitless potential, implementing it in space is challenging because of the limited transmission distances caused by signal degradation. This is where space-based quantum communication systems come into play, notes Utilities One.

“By leveraging satellite-based platforms, scientists can extend the reach of quantum communication to global scales without the need for complicated ground-based infrastructure. Satellites equipped with quantum communication technology can act as relays, facilitating secure communication between any two points on the planet.” Space-based quantum communication also comes with lower signal loss, unrestricted coverage, and the aforementioned quantum key distribution.

With the advancements in space-based quantum communication, the development of secure global quantum networks is becoming increasingly feasible. Such networks could revolutionize industries that rely on secure information transfer, including finance, healthcare, and government sectors. “The integration of quantum technology in space communication holds immense potential for the future of space exploration and satellite operations,” Utilities One writes, before offering the following examples”

  • Quantum communication could enable real-time, secure, and high-speed communication between space probes, satellites, and ground stations.
  • Future space missions could leverage quantum sensors to enhance navigation, imaging, and scientific research capabilities.
  • Quantum computers in space may unlock immense computational power, enabling complex simulations, optimization problems, and data analysis.
  • Interplanetary communication could be revolutionized, allowing for seamless data exchange between Earth and human outposts on other celestial bodies.

A New Directions For Directed RF

Directed RF involves directing radio frequency signals toward specific receivers or areas, enhancing connectivity, and reducing interference. It is being used to improve wireless communication, especially in crowded environments, by reducing signal congestion and improving reliability. Directed RF can improve satellite communication, wireless power transmission, security and surveillance, and much more.

The future of directed RF holds promise across various sectors, and ongoing research and development will likely uncover new and innovative applications, leading to more efficient and impactful uses of this technology. Potential future uses of this technology include:

  • 5G and Beyond: Directed RF will facilitate more rapid evolution of wireless communication technologies beyond 5G by enabling more efficient and focused transmission of high-speed data, leading to faster and more reliable networks.
  • Space-Based Applications: Directed RF is going to be instrumental in establishing more efficient and faster communication links with spacecraft, satellites, and probes exploring distant regions of space. This will facilitate better data transmission and control for deep-space missions.
  • Healthcare: Directed RF will find applications in medical technology, used for targeted drug delivery or in wireless implants that require precise and efficient power transfer.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): With the growth of IoT devices, directed RF should offer more effective and secure communication among interconnected devices. It could enhance the reliability and efficiency of IoT networks by enabling targeted and optimized data transmission.
  • Autonomous Vehicles and Transportation: Directed RF could be crucial for the advancement of autonomous vehicles, allowing for improved communication between vehicles and infrastructure for safer and more efficient transportation systems.
  • Environmental Monitoring and Agriculture: In the future, directed RF could further advance precision agriculture and environmental monitoring by providing more accurate and detailed data about soil conditions, crop health, and environmental parameters.
  • Defense and Security: There’s potential for further development of directed RF in defense and security applications, including enhanced surveillance systems, secure communication, and advanced non-lethal weapon technologies.

Wi-Fi 7: Coming Faster Than You Think

Wi-Fi 7 isn’t here yet, but the IEEE is expected to agree to the final spec soon. “While they wait,” Computerworld writes, “manufacturers are preparing to introduce the first routers and devices to support the standard but will need to upgrade them with the final spec once it’s released.” Once the “constellation of technologies that constitute the Wi-Fi 7 standard” is established we should expect a dramatic reduction in buffering, lag, and network congestion.

With speeds up to four times faster than Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 7 is expected to improve, well, everything, including video streaming; video and voice conferences; online gaming; real-time collaboration; cloud and edge computing; industrial IoT; immersive AR/VR; and interactive telemedicine.

Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), has revealed 10 predictions for 2024 and beyond that he believes will change the way wireless technology is used by communities and businesses across the world, including improved connectivity, efficiencies, and new consumer experiences.

One prediction is the rapid adoption of Wi-Fi 7, driven by its ability to access additional spectrum in the 6GHz band as more countries open the band. Rodrigues also predicts, “The capabilities of Wi-Fi 7 will drive immersive experiences and advance gaming and video content. A recent Bain & Company report forecasts that global revenue for video gaming could increase by another 50 percent over the next five years.

“In a sport where milliseconds count, networking equipment will be just as crucial to the game as the speed of the gaming rig. Wi-Fi 7 will be critical for speed and near-zero latency, and game developers will break new barriers with immersive experiences. Wi-Fi 7 client devices have already been released in 2023 with Qualcomm chipset with more to come in 2024.”

Rodrigues continues, saying, “There has never been a more exciting time for Wi-Fi with technologies such as OpenRoaming more widely available than ever and addressing the challenges in areas including Guest Wi-Fi provision, IoT deployments, and private cellular networks. The HaLow program is creating huge interest in low-power extended-range Wi-Fi and we are looking forward to working with the Wi-Fi ecosystem to develop industry trials for Wi-Fi 7 during 2024.”

The Wireless Broadband Alliance’s report is based on input from 200 enterprises, governments, fixed and mobile operators, vendors, and other organizations worldwide. Two key findings of it were that, “Wi-Fi 6, 6E, and 7 top the list of wireless technologies that network operators, ISPs, device and chipset vendors, enterprises, and other companies plan to deploy by the end of 2024 — ahead of CBRS, DAS, and private 4G/5G.

“Furthermore, confidence in investment across the sector is rising with 58% saying they are more confident in investing in Wi-Fi compared to a year ago even though the business model remains the most pressing challenge for new deployments. 6GHz spectrum availability also remains front of mind with two-thirds deeming it an important issue for 2024.”

In addition, the report found that over 41 percent of respondents plan to deploy Wi-Fi 7 by the end of 2024. That amount is in addition to the 7.5% that already have and shows that the marketplace already sees a strong business case for Wi-Fi 7.

Have A Happy New Year!

To thrive in 2024 and beyond, understanding these technologies’ basics can be valuable, especially considering their potential impact across industries. Stay updated on advancements, applications, and how they can be integrated into existing systems to leverage their benefits effectively. Additionally, keeping an eye on evolving security measures, particularly in quantum encryption, will be crucial as these technologies become more widespread.