What is Operating Mode Indication (OMI)?

Legacy 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi clients must contend for the medium and win their own TXOP if they want to transmit uplink. However, the uplink transmissions of 802.11ax clients are synchronized and controlled by the access point. A question that I am often asked is, “Can an 802.11ax client station suspend participation for synchronized uplink OFDMA and contend for the medium for an independent uplink transmission?”

802.11ax defines an operating mode indication (OMI) procedure for this purpose. As shown in Figure 1, the Wi-Fi 6 client that transmits a frame with an OM Control subfield is defined as the OMI initiator and the AP is the OMI responder. An 802.11ax client uses the OM Control subfield in 802.11 data and management frames to indicate a change of either transmission or receiver mode of operation.

A client can switch between single-user or multi-user UL-OFDMA operations with the change in transmit operating mode (TOM). Therefore, a Wi-Fi 6 client can both suspend and resume responses to the trigger frames sent by an AP during the UL-OFDMA process.

Figure 1

Additionally, a Wi-Fi client station can signal a change in receive operating mode (ROM) to the access point. The client indicates to the access point, the maximum number of spatial streams, and the maximum channel bandwidth that the client can support for downlink transmission. As shown in Figure 2, the client can indicate a change in channel size and the number of supported spatial steams.

Figure 2

Most likely, WLAN vendors will be required to support OMI in the 802.11ax AP whereas the OMI capability will be optional for Wi-Fi 6 clients.

802.11ax technology is the foundation of a generational paradigm shift occurring with Wi-Fi technology…. Wi-Fi 6. If you want to learn more about 802.11ax, please download the FREE eBook I authored: ‘Wi-Fi 6 for Dummies’, a complete guide for everything you need to know to get ahead of this shift and future-proof your network. To download your free copy, scan the QR code or follow this link:


Included in your free guide:

  • A historical look at past generations of Wi-Fi and efficiency limitations
  • A deep-dive about OFDMA which is the secret sauce of Wi-Fi 6 that promises authentic multi-user communication
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About the Author
Kendra Luciano
Managing Editor, Content Marketing

Kendra is the Managing Editor of the Extreme Networks blog and resource center. She was previously a Vertical Solutions Marketing Co-Op while pursuing her degree in Communications with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

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