Updated: Apr 21, 2021
WI-FI 6 The next-generation wireless standard that’s faster than 802.11ac ( That's the fastest WiFi we have now) is here! It will bring more than just faster speeds though, it will in fact provide better performance in congested areas, support more simultaneous connect devices, offer better security, and even save your device battery power!
WI-FI BY THE NUMBERS
First off we need to bring you up to speed on the new naming system that we are trying to get everyone to use. Yes, Wi-Fi now has version numbers! This is great, no more old confusing Wi-Fi technical names like “802.11ac”. Old and New, they have been renamed to the new user-friendly “Wi-Fi #” naming convention.
Here are the versions of Wi-Fi you’ll be seeing, with the higher the number being the newer edition:
Wi-Fi 4 is 802.11n, released in 2009
Wi-Fi 5 is 802.11ac, released in 2014
Wi-Fi 6 is the new version, also known as 802.11ax
The Wi-Fi Alliance also announced that it would like to see these numbers appear in software so you can tell which Wi-Fi network is newer and faster while connecting your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. So you may be seeing these numbers on your devices soon, if you the new Samsung 10x Android you may already be seeing it.
Older versions of Wi-Fi aren’t widely in use and aren’t officially being branded. But, if they were, here’s what they’d be called:
Wi-Fi 1 would have been 802.11b, released in 1999
Wi-Fi 2 would have been 802.11a, also released in 1999
Wi-Fi 3 would have been 802.11g, released in 2003
MORE DEVICES MORE FUN
Wi-Fi tends to get bogged down when you’re in a crowded place with a lot of Wi-FI enabled devices. Picture a busy stadium, airport, hotel, mall, or even a crowded office with everyone connected to Wi-Fi. You’re device is probably going to have slow or no Wi-Fi. This is simply because not all devices can connect at any one moment in time.
A huge feature of the new Wi-Fi 6 is that incorporates many new technologies to help with more clients. INTEL tells us that Wi-Fi 6 will improve each user’s average speed by “at least four times” in congested areas with a lot of connected devices. This wouldn’t just apply to busy public places. It could apply to you at home if you have a lot of devices connected to Wi-Fi, or if you live in a dense apartment complex.
We are seeing as many as 50 wireless devices at home these days for an average family. Wi-Fi 6 can now divide a wireless channel into a large number of subchannels. Each of these subchannels can carry data intended for a different device. This is achieved through something called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access, or OFDMA. The Wi-Fi access point can talk to more devices at once.
FAST GETS FASTER
As expected, the latest Wi-Fi standard offers faster data transfer speeds. Could be up to 40% higher with Wi-Fi 6 compared to Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 accomplishes this, in simple terms, through more efficient data encoding which results in higher throughput thanks to better and smarter computing in access points. But it's not just faster for new devices, this new standard even increases speeds on the old 2.4GHz networks. While the industry has shifted to 5GHz Wi-Fi for less interference, 2.4GHz is still better at penetrating solid objects (like walls) which is likely why you still use it in your homes. Now there shouldn’t be as much interference for 2.4GHz as wireless devices like older network products, cordless home phones, baby monitors, etc are retired.
BETTER SERVICES Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 6 will support a whole new suite of services like better resource management, end to end security essentials, better tools for achieving better coverage, and more!
LONGER BATTERY LIFE!
A new “target wake time” (TWT) feature means your smartphone, laptop, and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices should have longer battery life, too. Currently when an access point is talking to a device (like your smartphone), phone has to constantly wake up and check-in with the Wi-Fi access point. But now the new Wi-Fi access points can tell the device exactly when to put its Wi-Fi radio to sleep and when to wake it up to receive the next transmission. This will conserve power, as it means the Wi-Fi radio can spend more time in sleep mode. And that means longer battery life.
WAIT FOR IT...
Some routers and access points may already advertise “802.11ax technology”, but the Wi-Fi 6 standard isn’t actually finalized yet. That means things could change, so you should consult an expert before purchasing. Buying too soon could limit you in the future. The Wi-Fi Alliance expects the standard to be finalized and official hardware to be released sometime in 2019.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU ADOPT WI-FI 6
Of course upgrades and replacement of equipment are required to support this latest generation of Wi-Fi for you to gain all these aforementioned advantages, just like adopting any new tech. If you want Wi-Fi 6 performance on your phone, you’ll need both a new wireless router or access points, and a smartphone that supports Wi-Fi 6. Same goes for any other devices you wish to be able to connect to the faster Wi-Fi. Multiple versions are also supported without loss of performance, unlike past versions of Wi-Fi.
So, if you connect a laptop that only supports Wi-Fi 5 to your Wi-Fi 6 router that particular connection will operate in Wi-Fi 5 mode, but your router can still use Wi-Fi 6 with your other Wi-Fi 6 devices at the same time.
THE FUTURE IS COMING, AND IT'S GOOD!
We are very excited about Wi-Fi 6 and you should be to, Faster Data transfer means faster speeds, better connection in congested areas and a number system that actually makes sense to us! What more could we ask for? SO, just sit back and let the future come to you! Contact us today for consultation of the future of Wi-Fi.