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What is different and why is it important?



Wi-Fi 6 is the next-generation WLAN standard faster than 802.11ac. Beyond speed, it offers better performance in agglomerations, from stadiums to your own home-equipped home. It will be available in 2019.

Wi-Fi now has version numbers

Wi-Fi Alliance visuals for device manufacturers.

Yes, Wi-Fi now has version numbers! Even the old confusing Wi-Fi standard names like "802.11ac" have been renamed into user-friendly names like "Wi-Fi 5".

Here are the versions of Wi-Fi that you will see:

  • Wi-Fi 4 is 802.11n, released in 2009.
  • Wi-Fi 5 is 802.11ac, was published in 2014.
  • Wi-Fi 6 is the new version, also known as 802.11ax. The release is scheduled for 2019.

The Wi-Fi Alliance also wants these numbers to appear in the software. So you can determine which Wi-Fi network is newer and faster while connecting to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You may soon see Wi-Fi numbers on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Older versions of Wi-Fi are not used frequently and are not officially branded. If this were the case, they would read:

  • Wi-Fi 1 would have been published in 802.11b, 1999.
  • Wi-Fi 2 would have been 802.11a. also appeared in 1999.
  • Wi-Fi 3 would have been 802.11g and was released in 2003.

Faster Wi-Fi

As usual, the latest Wi-Fi standard offers higher data transfer speeds. If you are using a Wi-Fi router with a single device, the maximum speeds for Wi-Fi 6 should be up to 40% higher compared to Wi-Fi 5.

Wi-Fi 6 achieves this through more efficient data encoding, resulting in higher throughput. Mainly, more data is packed in the same radio waves. The chips that encode and decode these signals are becoming more powerful and able to handle the extra work.

This new standard even increases speed in 2.4GHz networks. While industry has shifted to 5 GHz Wi-Fi for less interference, 2.4 GHz is still better at penetrating fixed objects. And for 2.4GHz, there should not be as much interference as old cordless phones and wireless baby monitors are retired.

Longer battery life

A new "Target Wake Time" feature (TWT) is the name of your smartphone, laptop and mobile phone Other Wi-Fi enabled devices should also have a longer battery life.

When the access point is talking to a device (such as your smartphone), it can tell the device exactly when it should put its wireless radio into hibernation exactly when it needs to be woken up to receive the next transmission. This saves energy because the Wi-Fi radio can spend more time at rest. This means a longer battery life.

This will also help with low-power Internet of Things devices that connect via Wi-Fi.

Better performance in crowded areas

Wi-Fi tends to crash if you're in a crowded place with lots of Wi-Fi enabled devices. Imagine a bustling stadium, an airport, a hotel, a mall, or even a busy office, all with Wi-Fi. You will probably have slow Wi-Fi.

The new Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, contains many new technologies that help. Intel claims that Wi-Fi 6 would improve the average speed of any user in congested areas with many connected devices "at least four times".

This does not only apply to high-traffic public areas. It could be your home if you have many devices connected to Wi-Fi or if you live in a dense apartment complex.

How Wi-Fi 6 Fights the Overload

Qualcomm announces various features that make up "11ax", now Wi-Fi 6.

You do not really know the details. A Wi-Fi 6 access point with a Wi-Fi 6 device works better. But here's what's under the hood:

Wi-Fi 6 can now divide a wireless channel into a large number of subchannels. Each of these subchannels may contain data intended for another device. This is achieved by so-called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). The Wi-Fi access point can communicate with multiple devices at the same time.

The new standard for driverless devices has also improved the MIMO value (Multiple In / Multiple Out). These are multiple antennas that allow the access point to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. With Wi-Fi 5, the access point can communicate with devices at the same time, but these devices can not respond at the same time. Wi-Fi 6 has an improved version of Multi-User or MU-MIMO that allows devices to simultaneously respond to the wireless access point.

Nearby wireless access points can transmit on the same channel. In this case, the radio listens and waits for a clear signal before answering. With Wi-Fi 6, wireless access points side-by-side can be configured to have different basic service set (BSS) colors. This "color" is only a number between 0 and 7. If a device checks to see if the channel is present If everything is clear and listening, it may notice a transmission with a weak signal and a different "color". This signal can then be ignored and still sent without waiting. This improves performance in congested areas. This is also referred to as "spatial frequency" reuse. "

These are just a few of the most interesting things, but the new WI-Fi standard also includes many minor enhancements. For example, Wi-Fi 6 includes an improved beamforming feature.

Look for "Wi-Fi 6" and "Wi-Fi 6 Certified"

If you buy a new device, you will not dig through the datasheet and try to remember whether 802.11ac or 802.11 ax is the latest standard. The device manufacturer can say he has "Wi-Fi 6" or "Wi-Fi 5".

You will also see a "Wi-Fi 6 Certified" logo on devices that have undergone the Wi-Fi Alliance certification process. Previously, there was a "Wi-Fi Certified" logo that did not tell you which generation a product came from, unless you looked at the specifications.

These Wi-Fi 6 routers should hopefully support WPA3 to make secure connections to Wi-Fi networks, too, but WPA3 support is not required.

When will you get it?

ASUS has announced its RT-AX88U router. It includes some 802.11ax technologies, but does not support the final standard, which is not yet finished.

Some routers already offer "802.11ax technology", but Wi-Fi 6 is not finished yet. There are no Wi-Fi 6 client devices available yet.

The Wi-Fi Alliance expects the standard to be completed and the hardware to be released sometime in 2019. You should not even think too much – in the future, new routers, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other Wi-Fi enabled devices will be equipped with this technology.

As always, both the transmitter and the receiver must support the latest generation Wi-Fi for you to take advantage. So, if you want Wi-Fi 6 performance on your phone, you'll need both a Wi-Fi router (access point) and a smartphone that supports Wi-Fi 6. If you connect a laptop that supports Wi-Fi 5 only With your Wi-Fi 6 router, this connection can be performed in Wi-Fi 5 mode. However, your router can use Wi-Fi 6 with your phone at the same time.

Version numbers are great, but not compulsory

We're excited about the version numbers. It's a simple, simple change that should have been made a long time ago. It should be much easier for ordinary people to understand Wi-Fi. After all, many users can achieve faster Wi-Fi speeds by upgrading their home routers – but not everyone knows that.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, however, has no authority to force companies to use these version numbers, even though they "encourage" companies to adopt them. Some manufacturers ignore these version numbers and instead call the new Wi-Fi generation "802.11ax". Many companies are unlikely to be in a hurry to rename the existing 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5.

We hope that most companies will get on board quickly with the new naming scheme.

Sergey91988 / Shutterstock.com, Wi-Fi Alliance, Intel, Qualcomm, ASUS


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