Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation wireless technology, has arrived. While it’s not widely available yet, it’s going to dramatically increase the speed and capacity of Wi-Fi, allowing wireless network routers to communicate much more efficiently with more users and devices. Here’s a quick rundown of what it is, what’s changing, what you can expect, and how to take advantage of this new technology.
What is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 is the sixth and newest version of the 802.11 standards for wireless network transmissions. It upgrades the way wireless routers transmit signals, by making data encoding much more efficient and packing more data into the same radio waves. You may be familiar with the current standard, which is 802.11ac, but the new standard is 802.11ax. It’s being called Wi-Fi 6 for short, even though Wi-Fi version numbers haven’t been used much in the past.
If you’re worried about compatibility, you’re relatively safe. As with other Wi-Fi versions, Wi-Fi 6 is reverse compatible, so you’ll be able to use it with older devices that weren’t built for it.
How Fast is Wi-Fi 6?
Industry experts say that Wi-Fi 6 will be up to 30% to 40% faster than Wi-Fi 5. In an initial round of tests, CNET measured 40% faster speeds than it had ever measured with Wi-Fi 5.
This is promising, but actual speeds will depend on your Internet service provider and how many devices you’re connecting to your Wi-Fi.
For example, if your ISP’s Internet speed is slow, this isn’t going to fix that. However, if your Wi-Fi speed has been suffering because you’re connecting many devices to a single network, you could notice a significant improvement. Connection speeds on individual devices may not be substantially faster, but you’re likely to see more reliable speeds that devices can maintain. This means fewer slowdowns and more seamless experience for apps, voice, video, and more.
There are two other major benefits to realize when taking advantage of Wi-Fi6. First, Wi-Fi 6 will help increase the speed of 2.4 GHz networks and help get longer battery life out of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Although many Wi-Fi networks are now 5GHz because they offer less interference, 2.4GHz networks are still better at penetrating solid objects, and it will increase the speed of those networks.
Additionally, it will help improve battery life for low-power IoT Wi-Fi devices. This is due to a new feature called Target Wake Time, which lets wireless routers schedule check-in times with devices. For smart devices and IoT sensors that only need to update their status now and then, they can be awakened on a schedule that minimizes their battery usage. How’s that for efficiency?
When Will Wi-Fi 6 Be Widely Available?
Wi-Fi 6 is relatively new, but we’re seeing the first wireless routers and client devices that support it. Moving forward, it will be essential to make sure your network is ready, so you can take advantage of its key benefits. Read more on sixth-generation AI-powered Wi-Fi for today’s experience edge.