If you haven't heard the name yet, learn it, because soon it will be on everyone's lips: WiFi 6. This is the next evolution of WiFi technology, which will be the new standard for wireless connections. Since the last quarter of 2019, it began to be heard more strongly, mainly due to the worldwide launch of the new generation of devices that already include this technology.
This new standard will make your current WiFi look slow, old, outdated; in fact, you'll think you've gone back to the dial-up Internet days. It's a fact that WiFi 6 routers will boast true gigabit speeds to best manage the latest streaming platforms, video games and virtual meeting applications that today saturate our traditional modem/router.
In conjunction with Mesh technology, WiFi 6 will give your wireless network greater capacity to handle many more simultaneously connected devices that make intensive use of the available bandwidth.
To fully experience the benefits of this new technology, it should be borne in mind that it is not enough to install a WiFi 6 router, the devices connected to it must also have a wireless network card of this same generation. Several cell phones are already enabled for WiFi 6 such as: iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max; Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10E, as well as Motorola Edge Plus. It is very important to clarify that this does not imply that it is necessary to change the modem/router of your current Internet provider.
One of the most confusing aspects when talking about WiFi 6 is precisely its name. After all, when something goes to version six, you expect older versions to exist. And they exist, although they were renamed later, retroactively.
In October 2018, WiFi Alliance (the highest certification authority for WiFi connection) announced that it would change the nomenclature of WiFi connection. The upcoming version, formerly known as Wi-Fi 802.11ax, would be renamed Wi-Fi 6, with previous versions being Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 retroactively.
The entity has not officially named WiFi 1, WiFi 2 and WiFi 3 -perhaps because they are already very old versions-, although the WiFi standard has six main versions. So it's easy to deduce who's who, with old and new nomenclature:
WiFi 1 (unofficial), would be the 802.11a standard.
WiFi 2 (unofficial), would be the 802.11b standard.
WiFi 3 (unofficial), would be the 802.11g standard.
WiFi 4 is the oldest 802.11n standard
WiFi 5 is the older 802.11ac standard
WiFi 6 was formerly known as the 802.11ax standard.
What is Wi-Fi 6?
We have already seen that WiFi 6 was formerly known as WiFi 802.11ax, but what exactly is it? Like WiFi ac (now called WiFi 5), it is a wireless transmission standard developed by the IEEE Standards Association, which improves the speed, stability with many connected devices, and energy efficiency than previous versions.
WiFi 6 is a backwards compatible standard, so a device with WiFi 6 connectivity can connect to networks in an earlier version, although in this case it will not take advantage of the newer version. To do this, it is necessary that both the router and the device - for example, the cell phone or the tablet - are compatible with WiFi 6.
The iPhone 11 is an example of devices capable of connecting to WiFi 6 networks, as long as they connect to a router that supports it. They will have the capability but not official WiFi Alliance certification, as Apple has not certified WiFi on its iPhones in the past. The first cell phone to receive WiFi 6 certification will be the Samsung Galaxy Note 10. In the future, more and more devices - and routers - will include WiFi 6 connectivity.
Advantages of WiFi 6 over WiFi 5
As for the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 over previous versions, there are basically three of them: higher speed, better performance when many devices are connected to the same network, and better energy efficiency.
A faster network
A common change in each new version of the Wi-Fi standard is an improvement in the maximum theoretical data transmission speed. Wi-Fi 6 is no exception, going from the theoretical 6.9 Gbps of Wi-Fi 5 to 9.6 Gbps of Wi-Fi 6. It is therefore around 40% faster than the previous version, at least in ideal conditions. For its part, latency is reduced by about 75%.
This speed boost is due in part to 1024-QAM modulation (versus 256-QAM in Wi-Fi 5). If we imagine that the Wi-Fi connection between the router and our PC or cell phone is a tube through which data travels, modulation would be the technique of compressing the data to send more data through the same tube, without increasing the width. 🇧🇷 band (or tube diameter, in our example).
In addition, Wi-Fi 6 can work on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, unlike Wi-Fi 5, which worked exclusively on 5 GHz. Earlier versions could connect to 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks, but under the old 802.11n standard (now called Wi-Fi 4).
Better prepared for many devices
It is a fact that more and more devices are connected to the Internet (phones, tablets, televisions, consoles...) and Wi-Fi 6 presents different improvements focused on improving performance and reducing interference in this type of situation.
For better performance when a large number of Wi-Fi devices are connected to the same network, Wi-Fi 6 has three first and last name enhancements: OFDMA, MU-MIMO enhancements, and BSS coloring.
Orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA). It is an improvement of the OFDM system, present in previous versions of Wi-Fi, which allows subdividing the channels to offer access to different users and devices. In practice, this means lower latency and efficiency on a Wi-Fi network when multiple devices are connected.
If we imagine that the data channel is a highway and that the data is transported by trucks, Wi-Fi 5 OFDM would use a long truck that would occupy the entire road, while OFDMA would use small vans to transport less cargo, but more. frequent. This allows data to be transmitted more efficiently, especially if the connection is poor and the truck does not reach its destination: less data is lost on the way.
This is especially important on Wi-Fi networks where a large number of devices connect, such as public networks at airports or coffee shops, which will not be as congested by having many users connected.
lower power consumption
Many of the devices that connect to Wi-Fi networks, such as laptops or cell phones, have a battery, and Wi-Fi 6 promises better power efficiency by including Target Wake Time, or TWT technology. Without TWT, devices connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot would have to connect to the hotspot from time to time looking for new streams, but with TWT on Wi-Fi 6, the expected uptimes are negotiated by advanced.
In this way, a device can be placed in power saving mode until it is time to connect to receive new data. This means that the Wi-Fi 6 device can reduce power consumption by going into power saving mode until the specified time in your TWT arrives.
Four times the capacity
Technicians say it has four times the capacity, no matter how many devices are used simultaneously at home, for streaming content, playing online multiplayer, listening to music from apps, or doing any other online activity. No matter what it is, WiFi 6 is very capable of handling it all.
The change is significant, since now your router will be able to focus more on the devices on your network, even in the most remote places in your house, with which you will be able to have coverage even in the most remote areas, in the garden or by the pool. , from which external cameras, video intercoms, doorbells or smart speakers can work without interruption.
One major new feature is that WiFi 6 eliminates interference from other nearby WiFi networks, so you always have the strongest, clearest and most stable signal on each and every one of your devices.
Another benefit of WiFi 6 is energy efficiency, as it makes your devices stay longer on standby, generating significant savings in battery consumption and giving more useful life to your smart devices.
In summary, the most obvious benefits of WiFi 6 are:
- Greater range and coverage.Due to the way it handles the different frequencies, it can go further without affecting the data transmission speed.
- Management of multiple devices.With this technology it is possible to improve the performance of all devices connected to the network. By getting more out of every stream, you can send more data to more devices in less time.
- better speed,though it's not as noticeable. While on WiFi 802.11ac (WiFi5) it reaches 6.9 Gbps, on 802.11ax (WiFi 6) it reaches 9.6 Gbps.
- It is compatible with previous protocols.The WiFi 6 router is capable of connecting with any device, even if it works with other protocols. In addition, a gadget with a WiFi 6 connection will be able to use other networks that are just WiFi 4 or WiFi 5, for example.
- Lower power consumption.A large list of commonly used devices, such as laptops and tablets, will have their consumption reduced thanks to its wireless network adapter. To do this, turn communication on and off from time to time.
Wi-Fi 6 FAQ
Does WiFi 6 support WiFi 5 devices?
While older laptops and smart TVs can connect to Wi-Fi 6 networks, they will not benefit from the superior performance of Wi-Fi 6. To enjoy the benefits of the technology, your devices must support Wi-Fi 6.
How much faster is Wi-Fi 6?
WiFi 6 is 3 gigabits per second faster than WiFi 5. While WiFi 6 maxes out at 10 gigabits per second, Wifi 5 maxes out at 7 gigabits per second.
Is it time to buy a WiFi 6 router?
If you have a WiFi 4 or older router, you really should upgrade to WiFi 6, as your devices probably have better technology than WiFi 4. Otherwise, if you have a WiFi 5 router, you don't really need to upgrade, as Fisco says, “If you still have a WiFi 4 router, but your smartphone, TV, and laptop support WiFi 5, get a WiFi 5 router. I would be very comfortable saying you're good for five years, probably longer.
So if you don't live with a lot of people (and devices), you should save your money.
Is 5G faster than Wi-Fi 6?
No, both reach a theoretical maximum speed of 10 Gbps.
Does WiFi 6 penetrate walls better?
Really no. You may have noticed that routers today have two types of connections: 5Ghz (faster and shorter range) and 2.4Ghz (slower and longer range). WiFi 6 makes 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz frequencies faster connection speed. That means the slower but long-range 2.4Ghz is faster than before.
Is WiFi 6 backward compatible?
Yes, WiFi 6 routers are fully compatible with WiFi 5 routers and older devices. However, these devices will not benefit from WiFi 6 speeds, they will connect and have speeds based on their generation.
We hope this article was helpful for you. Either for the interest of knowing or to make an informed decision. As said before, WiFi 6 is pretty good, but if you have WiFi 5 it will probably be good for at least another 5 years.