Is MU-MIMO just marketing hype?

pinoy

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My older Netgear R6700 has three antennas and says it does simultaneous dual band 3x3 Tx/Rx. So it can transmit or receive three signals at once. Isn't that essentially what MU-MIMO is doing? Is the industry creating new terms as a marketing hype for something that had already existed for years? Just like they started using the terms Wifi 5 and Wifi 6 which simply refers to 802.11ac and 802.11ax respectively.
 
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MrGuvernment

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The new terms Wifi 5 or Wifi 6 was to cause less confusion for those not as technical, wondering if they have Wireless N, AC , A et cetera
 

SamirD

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That's like BMW using 3,4,5,6,7,8 for their series and Mercedes using A,B,C,D,E,G for their series--it's all confusing to someone who doesn't learn it.

I wish everything would have just stuck to the 802.11a,b,g,n,ac as then you could type in the number and get the real specs from the ieee.
 

bman212121

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My older Netgear R6700 has three antennas and says it does simultaneous dual band 3x3 Tx/Rx. So it can transmit or receive three signals at once. Isn't that essentially what MU-MIMO is doing? Is the industry creating new terms as a marketing hype for something that had already existed for years? Just like they started using the terms Wifi 5 and Wifi 6 which simply refers to 802.11ac and 802.11ax respectively.

It's similar but not the same. Yes on a normal wireless connection you can get up to 3 spatial streams between the router and the client. But this requires at least 3 antenna chains on both ends to accomplish this. What a non MU-MIMO device cannot do is allow more than one client to communicate at the same time. This is the distinction between MU-MIMO (Mutiple User Multi In Multi Out) and SU-MIMO (Single User Multi In Multi Out) The benefit of MU-MIMO is that if you have a router which can support 3 spatial streams but you have a client that can only support two spatial streams, you can add an additional client to take advantage of that otherwise unused spatial stream. This will free up air time and in theory should make the network perform better. The problem is it's incredibly difficult to facilitate multiple connects to multiple clients, all of which use non directional antennas and yet somehow be able to have to clients putting signal into the air and determining which signal is which. Small Net Builder has shown that MU-MIMO CAN in fact work and will provide a slight increase in bandwidth. The problem is it's incredibly complex and in a lot of situations it will actually end up being slower than just using SU-MIMO.

So while it's been hyped up as a fancy new option, it's still a work in progress. It's definitely not a lie that it does what it says on the tin, it just might not provide the benefit you might be hoping it would. Probably the biggest tester of a similar technology was Sprint. They tested 64T64R cellular devices. Phones normally only go up to 4T4R so one device could talk to as many as 16 phones at once using the same frequencies at the exact same time. It's definitely something that will continue to be persued as the advantages of reusing the same frequencies cannot be overstated.
 
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