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What is Wi-Fi 6?

What is Wi-Fi 6?

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Wi-Fi 6: Explained

Wi-Fi 6 is the 6th generation of wireless local area networking technology, and the latest IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standard for wireless local-area networks. You may have heard of it under the name 802.11 ax – this number and letter system was used before the Wi-Fi Alliance rebranded their naming for each different version of Wi-Fi.

Before this renaming, you would find it being called variations of 802.11, with subsequent lettering dictating the version type. This rebranding has been applied retroactively, so the first version ‘802.11’, can now be referred to as ‘Wi-Fi 0’.

Wi-Fi 6 is much faster than its predecessors, and was built using new technologies that were designed to boost its overall performance. It operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz carrier frequencies, as did its predecessor Wi-Fi 5, but is able to pass more data through them. While Wi-Fi 5 had a theoretical max data transfer speed of 3.5Gbps, Wi-Fi 6 is close to 10Gbps.

This is a massive improvement, and it means you’ll be able to use multiple devices in your home, at the same time, with little interruption.

What Are the Benefits of Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 has been improved greatly since Wi-Fi 5 and boasts a number of upgrades.

It Has Greater Speeds and Stability with More Bandwidth

The increased bandwidth of Wi-Fi 6 allows for much greater speeds and a more stable connection. The theoretical maximum speed is now 9.6Gbps, which can be shared across multiple channels. This means multiple devices can benefit from this upgrade at the same time.

However, since this is only the theoretical maximum, it is unlikely you would ever see these speeds in everyday use. But this broadband speed is useful because it means your household will be able to use devices like laptops, smart TVs, and smartphones, all at the same time, without any significant buffer. The potential speed of every device connected to Wi-Fi 6 will increase, along with its stability.

It Can Support More Devices

With greater speeds, and more bandwidth, Wi-Fi 6 allows for more devices to be used at once. In fact, it was designed specifically for this reason. With the average household owning more and more connected devices every year, a more powerful and stable connection is needed.

Previously, Wi-Fi 5 worked by using a technology called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM). This decided which devices could access the network by assigning a ‘subcarrier’ to each device. A subcarrier is a signal frequency that works to transmit Wi-Fi to a device. If a subcarrier was unavailable, you would be unable to access the network.

Wi-Fi 6, on the other hand, allows its subcarriers to transmit to multiple devices. It achieves this by utilising Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). Essentially, this means you are able to use multiple devices which require data simultaneously, without having to wait for a subcarrier to become available.

It Is More Efficient

Because of the way Wi-Fi 6 is able to connect to multiple devices, at faster speeds, it is far more efficient when compared to Wi-Fi 5. It also has a better wireless range, meaning you can be further away from the router and still remain connected. It doesn’t achieve this because it has a higher power output, but because it is designed to run on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz ranges.

It also has improved performances at its maximum range, due to its use of Beamforming. This is a technique used to focus a wireless signal towards a specific device, instead of broadcasting data in every direction at once.

It Saves Power Due to Target Wake Time (TWT)

Target Wake Time (TWT) has been incorporated into Wi-Fi 6’s design. It has the potential to increase the battery life of some connected devices. It does this by allowing your device to decide when it will communicate with the router, rather than constantly searching for Wi-Fi.

Because Wi-Fi 6 can choose to activate only when it is needed, your device does not need to spend its battery life actively searching. Basically, Wi-Fi 6 can tell your device when to wake up and search, and when to go back to sleep. Not only does this preserve your device’s battery, it also ensures there is no congestion when using the Wi-Fi with multiple devices. This can be especially important for business, which often requires that priority be given to certain devices.

Wi-Fi 6 Standards Explained

Wireless local area networking, or wireless LAN is a term that describes using wireless signals to connect devices. Wi-Fi is the more common wireless LAN technology, and refers to a set of standards for how these devices are allowed to communicate with each other over wireless networks.

Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, who certify that products meet the official IEEE wireless standards. IEEE 802.11 ax is the standard associated with Wi-Fi 6.

It’s called Wi-Fi 6 because the Wi-Fi Alliance decided, in 2018, that this name would allow the general public to better understand the different standards. This renaming is intentionally similar to the naming conventions of cellular technologies (3G, 4G, 5G), for this same reason.

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