Wi-Fi 6 – What it is, how it works, everything you need to know

Wi-Fi 6 – What it is, how it works, everything you need to know

Wi-Fi 6 – What it is

You may have heard of Wi-Fi 6 before, although you may not yet have had the opportunity to experience this new wireless technology firsthand.

Formerly known as 802.11ax , the Wi-Fi 6 technology (so renamed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to make it easier to remember) will replace 802.11ac connectivity, also known as Wi-Fi 5 , which has long been the standard of most routers on the market , especially the cheaper ones and with a few years of life on the shelf. Recently, the Wi-Fi Alliance decided to adopt the Wi-Fi X nomenclature to make the standard more "readable", so as to be easily recognized by users when they purchase a new network device or a product with a wireless connection.

Long story short, Wi-Fi 6 and compatible routers offer faster speeds , as you can easily guess. But, going deeper, we can also say that this (relatively) new technology above all guarantees more stable performance even in the presence of many devices connected to the same network, not to mention other advantages in terms of efficiency.

Wi-Fi 6 – A bit of history

if (jQuery("#crm_srl-th_hardware_d_mh2_1").is(":visible")) { //console.log("[ACTIVATION TEST] adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_hardware_d_mh2_1 slot id: th_hardware_d_mh2"); } if (jQuery("#crm_srl-th_hardware_d_bx2_1").is(":visible")) { //console.log("[ACTIVATION TEST] adding zone: tag crm_srl-th_hardware_d_bx2_1 slot id: th_hardware_d_bx2"); } The Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit organization that oversees the field of Wi-Fi technology, announced the first routers compatible with this standard for the end of 2019 . And so it was.

Among the first devices to support Wi-Fi 6, we mention Netgear Nighthawk AX8 and AX4, TP-Link Archer AX6000 and Asus RT-AX88U. Being the first routers to benefit from a technology that, at the time, had not yet been "finalized", some key functions were not available, however, unlike the products released later and 100% certified for Wi-Fi 6 .

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The first notebooks to support this new wireless technology were also announced at CES 2019, and it became increasingly popular over the following year.

Wi-Fi 6 – Specifications and performance

Wi-Fi 6 operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and, theoretically, peak speeds exceed those achieved by the previous standard Wi-Fi 5 (with single device). For a whole series of factors, it is unlikely to benefit to the maximum from this increase, but in any case, a certain difference is clearly noticeable, moving from Wi-Fi 5 to 6 .

As we mentioned before, the new Wi-Fi 6 isn't all about bare-bones performance. In fact, the priority of this new technology is to improve the efficiency and stability of connections in environments where the same network is shared by a certain number of wireless devices. We can imagine a Wi-Fi network in a public place such as a stadium, or the home environment of a very large family.

We remind you that it's not just smartphones and tablets that compete for home connectivity, in fact, there are various smart home products and IoT devices, not counting the various streaming products such as Fire TV or Google Chromecast .

To ensure network performance optimization, Wi-Fi 6 uses various technologies, among including OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), which allows multiple users to use the same wireless channel more efficiently, without considering increased throughput and reduced latency (for a more responsive connection).

Another technology used is MU-MIMO , already seen on Wi-Fi 5, which allows you to transfer a greater amount of data and manage several client devices at the same time . In Wi-Fi 6, the transmittable spatial streams go from 4 to 8, with the support of uplinks and downlinks .

Credit: Unsplash.com All this translates into less congestion in wireless environments in which dozens and dozens of devices are connected. Finally, thanks to the Target Wake Time (TWT) technology, the autonomy of the client devices also benefits from the greater overall efficiency guaranteed by Wi-Fi 6, since the client will not remain constantly active due to the potential reception of data, but will only activate when the router will signal a new transmission, thus reducing battery consumption.

So, in addition to the higher connection speed, Wi-Fi 6 focuses heavily on efficiency and balance, aspects that generally go to increase the quality of life of users under various profiles.

Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 – The future of Wi-Fi 6

There has been talk of the new Wi-Fi standard for some time -Fi 6E and how it will offer users additional speed benefits. Indeed, the new wireless technology is designed to offer higher connection capacities, even lower latency and higher speeds, implying a move to the 6 GHz spectrum.

However, it seems that this wireless technology is struggling to get off the ground . The reasons would be due, on the one hand, to the shortage of components that is affecting all technological sectors, given both by the increase in demand and by the shortage of silicon and other important materials, without forgetting the problems associated with the lockdowns caused by the COVID -19 and which today are once again shutting down factories in China .

Furthermore, the arrival of the new Wi-Fi 7 technology is expected by 2023 , which according to the Wi-Fi Alliance , should support a speed peak maximum transfer rate of 30 Gbps, compared to the 9.6 Gbps of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E .

So, in theory, Wi-Fi 6 doesn't have too long a life, provided that the global situation and the various regulatory approval jurisdictions don't get in the way.

In any case, if you are planning to purchase or have recently acquired a Wi-Fi 6 certified router, it is not yet the time to think about replacing it or bringing it back to the shop.

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