What is Wi-Fi 6? A Complete Explanation of WiFi 6– In the world of technology, we are often faced with strange nomenclatures that are often difficult to understand and explain. Take for example Intel desktop and mobile chips. If you’re not experienced with this topic, there’s no way of knowing which Intel chip is better than the other. In the same vein, the WiFi standard uses one of the most confusing nomenclatures that normal users cannot decipher even though we all use WiFi on a daily basis.
Well, that’s all about to change thanks to the new nomenclature adopted by the WiFi Alliance (the Wi-Fi Alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and certifies Wi-Fi products for compliance with certain interoperability standards). With this new adoption, WiFi has also introduced a new WiFi standard which brings a number of new improvements. The new WiFi standard is called WiFi 6 and here is everything you need to know about WiFi 6:
What is Wi-Fi 6?
As mentioned in the introduction, WiFi 6 is the latest WiFi standard that brings a number of speed, security and connectivity improvements. The latest WiFi standard currently in use is 802.11ac which you may have noticed in the specifications of your router or smartphone. The new standard that will replace 802.11ac in the near future is called 802.11ax. However, because this nomenclature is so confusing, the WiFi Alliance has released a simple numbering system for WiFi that will make it easier for consumers to understand. Since the latest version of the WiFi standard, 802.11ax, is the sixth generation, it is referred to as WiFi 6.
As you can see, the old names although technically more open are not consumer friendly. However, now by just looking at one new name, a consumer will be able to understand whether he or she is getting the latest WiFi standard or not. The WiFi Alliance is also introducing a new WiFi logo that will make it easier for people to see which WiFi standard is connected. The symbols are self-explanatory as they show the numbers pinned to the WiFi icon, as shown in the image above.
In conclusion, WiFi 6 is the latest WiFi standard which is scheduled to be released in 2019. Now that we know what WiFi 6 really is, let’s take a look at all the improvements it brings.
What are the Benefits of WiFi 6 Standard?
The new WiFi 6 standard brings many new improvements. Not only will the standard allow for a faster connection, but it will also make it more secure and reliable. Here are all the upgrades you’ll get:
1. Speed Boost
WiFi 6 brings a significant speed boost. While it’s not as big as it looked when moving from WiFi 4 to WiFi 5, it’s still quite a lot. In a perfect WiFi connectivity situation, users can see a theoretical 40% increase in connectivity speed. The new standard achieves that by improving data encoding which results in higher throughput. Basically, WiFi 6 devices will be able to pack more data in the same spectrum space. This is made possible by the new chip which is much more powerful and capable than the previous version.
2. Improved Spectrum Usage
The new WiFi 6 standard will operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels. This means you will have the advantage of not only having remote connectivity but also higher data throughput. Several technology companies such as Apple and Facebook are also lobbying to release 6 GHz bandwidth for WiFi usage. If that happens, it will release never-before-used channels resulting in lower network congestion and better connectivity.
The 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bandwidth channels that use both bandwidths will result in a stable connection and longer range and you will see lower connection drops and better speeds.
3. MU-MIMO fixes
MU-MIMO or “Multi-user Multiple input, Multiple output” is a technology that allows a WiFi access point to connect to multiple devices at once. Before MIMO became a thing, WiFi access points would connect to one device at a time while other devices would have to wait in line for connection. Since the switch actually occurs in microseconds, the user may not notice the switch, that is, until the number of devices is small enough and no other network is causing interference. As soon as you increase the number of client devices for the access point, you will start seeing things like delayed response (Latency) and disconnection.
4. OFDMA fix
OFDMA or “Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access” is another technology upgrade that will increase efficiency, latency, and throughput. This one is a bit hard to explain in simple terms but I will try my best. Until now, the latest WiFi standard i.e. 802.11ac or WiFi 5 uses OFDM technology which uses individual channels to carry data destined for a specific client device. The problem with this approach is that it results in wasted capacity.
5. BSS Coloring
BSS Coloring is one of the biggest improvements with the new WiFi 6 standard. One of the main problems with current WiFi standards is not the throughput rate, not the amount of interference that causes that rate to drop. At all times, you may be surrounded by multiple access points (routers, security cameras, monitors, etc.) and client devices transmitting their signals. Since they all use more or less the same bandwidth, they interfere with each other causing a drop in connectivity.
6. Target Wake Time (TWT)
Target Wake Time or “TWT” is an excellent new feature that is great for battery life on mobile devices. Currently, when multiple devices are connected to the same access point and are waiting for their turn to receive data, they all remain operational and consume battery life (as shown in the image below). With standard WiFi 6, access points will basically be able to tell devices in line when they will accept a connection so they can sleep while waiting in line.