Wi-Fi 6: five key facts
Wi-Fi 6 is big news in the technology industry; it’s a real gamechanger and one of the biggest changes for years. So to help you make sense of it, we’ve put together our guide: Wi-Fi 6 Five Key Facts, with everything you need to know.
1. What is Wi-Fi 6?
802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6 as it is known, is the sixth generation of Wi-Fi. What makes it such a huge leap forward? Well, there are some major innovations under the hood which will make a significant difference to the way Wi-Fi is delivered and consumed.
The headline news is Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access otherwise known as OFDMA. This works by assigning sub-channels to individual users and dividing the sub-channels into resource units (RUs). A Wi-Fi 6-enabled access point (AP) can transmit to multiple client devices at the same time, a huge difference to all previous 802.11 versions, which could only transmit to one device at a time.
In a high-density environment, the AP must cope with a huge number of devices constantly transmitting data. This is especially true of IoT devices. With Wi-Fi 6, Target Wake Time allows the AP to set a sleep/wake schedule, essentially telling the IoT device to turn off and come back in a specified time. Not only does this clean up the airwaves but it also saves power.
BSS Colouring has been introduced to address the issue of APs listening to other APs, by adding a unique colour to each transmitting channel. The AP can easily recognise its own ‘colour’, so can ignore any activity from neighbouring APs.
2. Why is it happening?
The explosion of the number of devices demanding access, consumer devices, wearables and IoT devices; combined with the increasing adoption of virtual and augmented reality and 4k video has placed huge demands on the wireless network. Wi-Fi 6 was designed to support a large number of devices in high-density environments, improving service and efficiency, extending connectivity and enhancing the user experience.
3. What’s the difference?
Wi-Fi 6 will help you to support more devices and newer high-demand technologies.
- More reliable Wi-Fi – it’s a more consistent and dependable network connection so provides a seamless experience for clients, IoT and all apps, especially voice and video.
- Increase your network capacity – Wi-Fi 6 handles more data than previous Wi-Fi standards. It also handles more active clients per access point.
- Boost speed and bandwidth – Wi-Fi 6 achieves speeds up to 4 times faster than previous Wi-Fi standards, improving the user experience and performance of bandwidth-hungry apps like voice, video, and collaboration.
4. When will Wi-Fi 6 happen?
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Wi-Fi Alliance will ratify the new standard towards the end of 2019. However, you don’t have to wait that long to get on-onboard as technology vendors are already shipping Wi-Fi 6 access points.
5. What does it mean for you?
As with previous generations, all Wi-Fi 6 access points must be backwards compatible with previous standards. And as there are only a small number of Wi-Fi 6 client devices out on the market now, you don’t need to do anything immediately. Though, of course, technology vendors are scrambling to catch up and this will change rapidly.
However, you do need to consider if your existing network can cope with increased number of connections as well as the bandwidth required to offer a seamless user experience.
If you’re considering replacing or refreshing your network, then the obvious choice is Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 five key facts
More reliable Wi-Fi
Better network capacity
Faster Wi-Fi and more bandwidth