If you’ve bought a laptop, router, or smartphone over that last 3 years, you’ve probably already have a device that supports Wi-Fi 6. But what exactly is Wi-Fi 6? and is it worth the upgrade?
In this article, we will try to answer some of these questions!
What is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax, or also “AX Wifi” is the current generation standard in WiFi Technology. WiFi stands for Wireless fidelity, and as you already know, it provides wireless connectivity to computing devices. The term WiFi was trademarked in 1997 by the WiFi Alliance, which is a non profit organization.
IEEE 802.11 is one of the Working Groups (WGs) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is an international standardization organization dealing with LANs. The first standard was created in 1997, and since then there have many standards in order to enable high speed connections, and improve quality of service among other things. In 2018, the Wifi alliance started using a new naming system: 802.11n is Wi-Fi 4, 802.11ac is Wi-Fi 5, and 802.11ax is Wi-Fi 6.
The main goal of WiFi 6 is to improve speeds, and make the network perform better when many devices are connected.
New features and advantages of Wi-Fi 6:
Although it’s not a major change in how we connect devices wirelessly, WiFi 6 brings many upgrades over its predecessor, WiFi 5.
Here are the main advantages of WiFi 6:
- Faster Transfer speeds :
WiFi 6 has more bandwidth which helps when transferring big files and dealing with high data demands. The maximum throughput of WiFi 6 is 9,6 Gbps while that of WiFi 5 is 6,9Gbps only. These speeds are of course in theory only. In real world usage, you won’t probably be able to reach such speeds., but if you have many devices connected, WiFi 6 will provide more speed.
WiFi 6 also can communicate with multiple devices simultaneously (MU-MIMO). This feature was partially introduced with WiFi 4 (MIMO: Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output), which means there can be multiple transmissions, but only to one device at a time.
With WiFi 6, multiple devices can communicate with the router at the same time, with up to 8 devices at a time.
Another important new feature of WiFi 6 is OFDMA, which stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access. This simply means that one transmission can be used to send data to multiple devices at once. Not only does this reduce time between data transmissions, but will also help free bandwidth and reduces latency since you won’t need multiple transmissions.
- Improved Security:
WiFi 6 supports WPA 3, which is the latest security standard for wireless networks. Developed by the WiFi alliance in 2018, WPA3 became mandatory for certification in 2020.
WPA3 brings enhanced capabilities against hackers, boosted encryption and password protection against brute-force attacks.
- Improved power efficiency:
WiFi 6 brings a new features called Target Wake Time. Put in simple words, this feature frees up bandwidth by tells certain devices to wake up at a specific time.
This means that when those devices are “sleeping”,they free up bandwidth, and reduces power consumption, especially for mobile and IoT device that may not need a constant internet access.
WiFi 6 is also backward compatible with WiFi 5 and WiFi 4 devices.
Wi-Fi 6 VS Wi-Fi 5:
While WiFi 5 is fine for most people, the improvements that WiFi 6 brings can benefit many users, especially if you have many devices connected at the same time.
As mentioned before, there are many differences between WiFi 6 and WiFi 5, such as the bandwidth, up to 9,6 Gbps for WiFi 6 while WiFi 5 is limited to 6,9 Gbps.
WiFi 6 and WiFi 5 also use different frequency bands. While WiFi 5 only uses the 5GHz band, WiFi 6 uses both 2.4Ghz and the 5Ghz bands. There is also a new WiFi 6E upgrade which uses a 6Ghz band.
WiFi 6 access points also handle multiple users better in comparison to WiFi 5. With WiFi 6, 8X8 MU MIMO can handle up to 8 connected devices simultaneously without showing any congestion signs and minimal latency.
WiFi 6 also introduces BSS coloring, which is a technology that helps prevent overlapping WiFi signals and reduce interference.
Is WiFi 6 worth the upgrade?
The answer to this question depends on your specific use, but for most people, upgrading to WiFi 6 is definitely worth it, since more and more devices support it now. In general, if you have 15 devices or more connected to your access point, then you should definitely consider upgrading to WiFi 6.
WiFi 6 is also good for streaming 4K and 8K videos which require a constant high speed connection.
What is Wi-Fi 6E?
WiFI 6E is the latest upgrade to the WiFi 6 (802.11ax) standard. WiFi 6E has all the new features that come with WiFi 6 but also allows access to an additional 6Ghz band, which wasn’t the case with previous WiFi versions.
WiFi 6 can only use 2 bands: 2.4Ghz and 6Ghz. WiFi 6E on the other hands has an additional 6Ghz band too, which can be very helpful in congested networks.