WiFi 6 is coming – what is WiFi 6 & is it backwards compatible?

wifi 6 soeed

What is WiFi 6?

The next generation of WiFi is coming; WiFi 6. This new WiFi standard promises significantly more speed than it’s predecessors. But what is WiFi 6 exactly and is it backwards compatible?

Kevin Robinson of Austin-based Wi-Fi Alliance has celebrated WiFi 6 as ‘the best that you can get’. If you’re looking to speed up WiFi at home, WiFi 6 promises to help you do this.
Modern home and public routers use WiFi 5. This is a 5 GHz signal band which was rolled out on 802.11ac enabled routers, between 2013 and 2016. For the most part, WiFi 5 is ideal for networks with between 1 – 255 connected users. However, more network users often result in a slow network speeds. This is because WiFi 5 routers are limited to broadcasting at 500 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s. Thankfully this problem will be non-existent with WiFi 6.

  • WiFi 6 is the telecom industry’s latest WiFi standard
  • Routers which support the new WiFi channel, promise to speed up WiFi speeds for connected users
  • Despite some reports that say the contrary, WiFi 6 will be backwards compatible with existing mobile devices

WiFi 6 will be the fastest WiFi you’ve ever experienced

WiFi 6 is capable of broadcasting at a signal rate strength of 10 Gbit/s. It’s therefore distinctly different from WiFi 5, that maxes out at speeds of 1 Gbit/s. WiFi 6 uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Operation Mode Indication (OMI). This ensures users will benefit from faster network speeds, streamlined data and network bandwidths which connect devices more efficiently.

  • By operating at 10 Gbit/s, WiFi 6 is significantly faster than WiFi 5
  • WiFi 6 extends the range of routers, connecting more users without need of devices like extenders/repeaters
  • WiFi 6 also connects devices more efficiently and increases battery performance

(Update) Quick Rundown of Generational Wi-Fi Labels

As mentioned earlier, the Wi-Fi Alliance’s role in creating a better alternative to present Wi-Fi systems is highly commendable. Talking about Wi-Fi Alliance, it is an organization that oversees and takes charge of any decision, development, and designation of Wi-Fi standards worldwide. The need to develop new generation Wi-Fi technology comes from the fact that almost every electronic device on the planet is becoming more and more complex and the Internet connections are also evolving at a rapid pace.

This ensures the development of better and efficient devices to access high-speed Internet. But, there has to be a device that improves the process of delivering wireless connectivity to help people leverage the high-speed Internet available in the present. It is, therefore, very important to keep updating the Wifi standards to make sure modern technological advancements are able to easily make space in the digital ecosystem. Here is the complete chronological rundown of all the upgradations the Wi-Fi community has seen over the years:

1. 802.11ax -> Wi-Fi 6 (scheduled release in 2019)
2. 802.11ac -> Wi-Fi 5 (released in 2013)
3. 802.11n -> Wi-Fi 4 (released in 2009)
4. 802.11g -> Wi-Fi 3 (released in 2003)
5. 802.11a -> Wi-Fi 2 (released in 1999)
6. 802.11b -> Wi-Fi 1 (released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 1, Wi-Fi 2, and Wi-Fi 3 were not the recognized official name. It’s been used here just to make sense to anyone who is new to the community.

(Update) What Does the Wi-Fi 6 Standard Brings? (How it is different from others)

Now that all issue regarding naming has been cleared, let’s see what this latest installment to the Wi-Fi family brings to the table.

  • Speed Improvements

We’d be honest here. The speed improvement in Wi-Fi 6 is significant but it is not as big as it was when we moved from Wi-Fi 4 to Wi-Fi 5. Developers have claimed that Wi-Fi 6 can theoretically boost the present connectivity speeds by a jaw-dropping 40%!

  • Spectrum Usage Improvements

Wi-Fi 6 ensures that the new routers will have the advantage of connecting over long-range and will deliver higher data throughput. How will it achieve this? Well, Wifi 6 is designed to operate in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels, resulting in stable connections over longer range. Increased efficiency, latency, and throughput are also going to make your online experience effortless. Now say bye-bye to connection drops and reduced speeds.

  • Capacity to Connect 8 Devices (MU-MIMO improvements)

MU-MIMO stands for Multiple User Multiple Input Multiple Output, and it is a standard which helps decide the number of devices that can be connected to a Wi-Fi device simultaneously. Wi-Fi 6 can now connect with 8 devices at a time while Wi-Fi 5 could only connect to 4 devices. Also, Wi-Fi 6 will provide both uplink and downlink connections unlike Wi-Fi 5 which only provided downlink when connected at full capacity.

  • Improved Battery Life (Target Wake Time)

TWT or Target Wake Time is a new feature in the tech world which keeps a battery from draining itself completely. This feature is extensively used on mobile devices. So, when multiple devices connected to one access point are in queue to receive data, they remain awake which results in high battery consumption. Wifi 6 standard comes with a feature that helps connected devices know the exact time when they will receive the data so that they can sleep while standing in the queue. This will improve the battery life and efficiency of new mobile devices and routers coming our way.

How to prepare for WiFi 6

WiFi 6 works to discover and serve data to devices which are WiFi 6 compatible, meaning that they support the new 802.11ax protocol. This means that if your smartphone is WiFi 6 ready, you’ll benefit from superior speed when connecting to a WiFi 6 router. Luckily, WiFi 6 is also backwards compatible, so users don’t have to replace their smartphones and tablets.

fast wifi

How WiFi 6 will benefit your business

Because of the significant bandwidth and range increase, businesses that upgrade to WiFi 6 will gain a competitive edge over companies who don’t. You can offer your customers a network that allows them to smoothly stream videos (Youtube, Netflix etc.) and even play the big games. Because your WiFi 6 network can process a lot more traffic, your network can also handle more concurrent users. Therefore it’ll also pave way for smarter business insights concerning WiFi users.

(Update) With all the groundbreaking improvements and features Wi-Fi 6 brings with itself, it’s important for businesses to leverage the power of this new technology for boosting work efficiency, productivity, and customer engagement. Since Wifi 6 has such high bandwidth and range, you can dedicate a network for your customers to enjoy online content while sparing adequate bandwidth for employees to carry out routine tasks.

SpotOn WiFi is preparing to deploy WiFi 6 to boost the effectiveness of patented Presence Analytics Systems. These systems allow you to monitor foot traffic in specific business locations. This data allows you to better plan venue layouts, staffing arrangements and much more. SpotOn WiFi combines super fast WiFi with collecting  and using valuable data. Not a techie? No problem; it’s all housed into one platform that can easily be managed.

(Update) How to start using WiFi 6

You can already purchase routers with Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax standard.

Brands like ASUS, D-Link, and Aerohive have started manufacturing Wi-Fi 6 enabled routers and they are up for grab at most stores.

Also, all the latest mobile devices have next generation wifi technology or Wi-Fi 6 standard so making the most of the routers won’t be an issue.

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