The world is moving towards higher-resolution video streaming, faster uploads, downloads, demanding gaming performance, and more connected devices. Don’t forget a large crowd vying for data. In the midst of all this, an emerging standard named WiFi 6 promises to usher in this new era of speeds and connectivity.
WiFi 6 is more than just a set of labelling conventions. Many significant improvements have been incorporated into the WiFi 6, which will make it useful for wireless users across the globe.
With an increasing number of wireless devices, the benefits of employing a WiFi 6 network seem more evident.
Whether you plan on converting your home into a smart home or want to increase network performance in environments with many connected devices (offices, stadiums, auditoriums, convention centres, etc.), your next router purchase should be WiFi 6 compatible.
What is WiFi 6?
WiFi 6 is the sixth generation of WiFi network that expands its reach, supports a greater density of connected devices, and delivers faster connectivity.
WiFi 6 goes hand-in-hand with 5G technology, facilitating the in-depth application of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the creating of augmented and immersive virtual reality experiences.
According to Statista, as of January 2021, 59.5% of the global population (4.66 billion people) were active internet users. Of this total, 4.32 billion users accessed the internet through mobile devices. And we predict that this number is only going to increase in the future. Even more interesting is that the number of connected devices in 2021 is set to hit 46 billion.
With the increase in mobile and connected devices, it is apparent that the need for a high-performing network has already been realised.
Keep on reading as we explore how the wireless & networks sectors have been impacted by the release of this new WiFi network.
How fast is WiFi 6?
WiFi 6 is the latest generation of WiFi, built off of the 802.11ac standard for wireless network transmissions. The new 802.11ax standard promises faster throughput speeds, WiFi spectrum efficiency, and less bandwidth congestion.
To summarize, WiFi 6 (802.11ax) expands to be better suited for handling large crowds vying for data simultaneously. This includes expansive public events.
Theoretically, it can handle speeds up to 9.6Gbps, three times higher than WiFi 5’s (802.11ac) current maximum theoretical speed limit. The sixth generation of WiFi networks offers potential performance gains of up to 40% compared to WiFi 5 routers and devices.
This is because WiFi 6 can pack more data into each packet, working on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Higher Efficiency with WiFi 6 Network
The flagship WiFi 6 network feature is efficiency. High throughput, low latency, and high capacity are its main functionalities.
Users can expect higher data rates to support new applications and increase the network capacity. The WiFi Alliance, which is in charge of writing the WiFi rules, has ensured that the new WiFi standard will improve people’s lives.
The WiFi 6 router can expand the bandwidth of your home network, dividing it into more slices.
This means that more devices in a small space, from smartphones to tablets and laptops, can run at top speed simultaneously.
One of the most significant breakthroughs in WiFi wireless connection is that WiFi 6 and 5G are designed to similar ends, Supporting more devices and faster data transfer.
However, these two are entirely different technologies. With that said, devices that support 5G networks may not necessarily support WiFi 6. WiFi 6 is a better way to connect to WiFi networks indoors, and 5G is an ideal way to connect to outdoor networks.
Role of WiFi 6 in Industrial & Enterprise Solutions
The sixth-generation WiFi network will present an improvement in corporate wireless connections as well. Businesses and organizations can enjoy a more secure, reliable, and faster wireless access point. For example, the education sector will be exposed to the latest learning technologies based on augmented and virtual reality.
Devices that adhere to the WiFi 6 certification program will deliver an optimal wireless & networks experience. When compared, WiFi 5 offers 256 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (QAM), whereas WiFi 6 steps up to 1024-QAM, together with Mu-MIMO, transmit beamforming, and 160MHz channels. This offers more throughput for data-hungry devices.
Pros & Cons of WiFi 6 Connection
This version of the wireless WiFi connection avoids interference and promises faster performance for users. Essentially, WiFi 6 was introduced to address the explosion of the Internet of Things devices.
And because there are 13.15 million smart homes in India, the need for enhanced WiFi networks will increase, and WiFi 6 will play a crucial part. With that said, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of WiFi 6.
Benefits of WiFi 6:
- More bandwidth – One of the most significant benefits that this WiFi network brings is enhanced bandwidth. WiFi 6 offers support for broader 80 MHz and 160 MHz bandwidth channels. More bandwidth means you can achieve a higher data transfer rate, which leads to shorter download times.
- Wider channels – WiFi 6 brings in increased network capacity and efficiency – 5925-7125 MHz. This includes 7×160 MHz channels, 14×80 MHz channels, 29×40 MHz channels, and 60×20 MHz channels, with a 6 GHz frequency band range. This increased network capability is more substantial, and the performance is extensively enhanced.
- More devices at once – WiFi 6 uses 8×8 multi-user multi-input, multi-output (Mu-MIMO), allowing multiple device connectivity to the WiFi 6 router simultaneously. The higher bandwidth allows the wireless WiFi 6 router to handle several smart devices, compared to a 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz wireless WiFi router.
- Reduction in energy consumption – The new WiFi 6 uses the modified version of the TWT (Target Wake Time) mechanism that allows the devices to arrange when and how often they will wake up to service or send data. This improves the battery life of the client devices by allowing them to sleep for hours and ensures a reduction in power consumption.
Demerits of WiFi 6:
- Compatibility – The most significant disadvantage of the sixth-generation wireless WiFi is that most existing devices will not be compatible with it. This means that routers, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other smart devices must have WiFi 6 certification.
- Expensive changes to be made to devices – Another drawback is that you need to have a Gigabit-class broadband connection to fully utilize this latest technology. This means you need to make expensive changes to your device.
- Smaller range – One more caveat is the extent of the network. That is, it has a smaller range as compared to the 5 GHz network. This means that the signals will be interrupted more frequently in case of any obstruction between the device and the router.
Technological Dimensions & Features of WiFi 6 Network
WiFi 6 supports all the 802.11ax capabilities and features. However, it operates in the 6 GHz band. When devices running low-latency and high-bandwidth applications are connected to the sixth generation wireless access point, 802.11ax goes beyond incorporating advanced technology to improve network speed and increase overall network performance.
WiFi 6 operates on the 6 GHz band with seven 160 MHz channels and 14 additional 80 MHz channels. Therefore, WiFi 6 wireless & networks offer improved power.
Moreover, a basic service set (BSS) in the 802.11ax network can differentiate between different basic service sets using a BSS colour identifier. This prevents any interference from the neighbouring wireless networks that can cause issues with your wireless signal.
A WiFi 4 or WiFi 5-enabled router can only communicate with a specific number of devices. This is especially an issue in places with substantial crowd gatherings, such as stadiums, concerts, auditoriums, etc. Thus, the more bandwidth-hungry devices are in the proximity, the slower will be the network speed. The latest WiFi 6 technology solves this problem by allowing WiFi 6 routers to communicate with more devices simultaneously and more efficiently, creating quicker connections overall.
The key technological features that make 802.11ax standard the best WiFi connection are:
- Denser modulation – WiFi 6 uses a denser quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), moving from 256 QAM to 1024 QAM. This translates to higher throughput and 25% enhanced capacity with 10 bits per symbol. Each symbol encodes more data bits, enabling a 25% data rate increase in a WiFi 6 wireless access point. 1024 QAM is vital in ensuring the quality of services in high-density locations like convention centres, auditoriums, stadiums, and transportation hubs. Moreover, applications like 4K video streaming will benefit from this denser modulation.
- Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) – OFDMA is arguably the most important new feature of WiFi 6. The technology allows one transmission to transmit data to numerous devices at once. OFDMA enables WiFi 6 routers and their connected devices to use bandwidth more efficiently by lowering the time between data transmissions. As a result, more bandwidth is available for other WiFi-enabled devices.
- Robust high-efficiency signalling for better operation – The development of the new WiFi 6 802.11ax wireless standard is also called H0gh-Efficiency Wireless (HEW). With this, WiFi 6 aspires to offer robust high-efficiency signalling for better operation. The technology used quadruples the average throughput per user, providing a reliable and consistent data stream for every user connected to the same WiFi 6 network, regardless of whether the router is jam-packed with users.
- MU-MIMO – WiFi 6 takes MU-MIMO technology one step further by enabling smart devices to respond to the wireless access point at the same time without throttling or interference.
Access Points for WiFi 6
A wireless access point (WAP) for WiFi 6 is a networking device (router) that enables smart devices to connect to a wired network. It is easier and simpler to install a wireless access point to connect all the devices and computers in your network than to use cables and wires. If you use a wireless access point with WiFi 6 certification or support for 802.11ax, you will have a WiFi 6 network.
Using a WAP lets you establish a wireless network within your existing wired network, allowing you to accommodate wireless devices. The best part is that you can use a WAP to extend the WiFi 6 signal strength and range to provide complete wireless coverage and eliminate ‘dead spots.’
Access points for WiFi can provide a maximum data rate of up to 1775 Mbps. Many economic access points are available for WiFi 6 networks that allow you to utilise the full range of WiFi 6 technologies, including MU-MIMO and OFDMA.
Some of the prominent features of wireless access points (WAP) are:
- The latest WAP3 security protocol for enhanced connectivity security
- Advanced Cellular Coexistence feature for minimizing interferences from 4G and 5G cellular networks
- Cloud compatibility, such as NebulaFlex, which allows the users to switch between intuitive or standalone Nebula cloud-managed modes as required
- OFDMA ensures low latency and high performance for all scenarios
- Dual-radio access point feature for a maximum data rate
How much faster is WiFi 6?
WiFi 6 can handle speeds up to 9.6Gbps, three times more than the WiFi 5 (802.11ac) current maximum speed limit.
The sixth generation of WiFi networks offers potential performance gains up to 40% compared to WiFi 5 routers and devices. This is because WiFi 6 can pack more data into each packet, working on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
WiFi 6 packs feature denser modulation, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), robust high-efficiency signalling for better operation, and multi-input multi-output technology, which ensures high-speed internet connectivity is maintained.
What is the difference between WiFi 5 and WiFi 6?
WiFi 6 improves the features and performance of WiFi 5 by leveraging the valuable techniques from 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) cellular radio technology. Therefore, WiFi 6 provides an increased capacity required for multiple interconnected devices. These range from smarter 5G wireless cellular smartphones to the Internet of Things (IoT) to even connected cars.
The following table compares WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 standards:
|Parameter||WiFi 6||WiFi 5|
|Maximum Data Rate||9.6 Gb/s||3.5 GB/s|
|Antennas||MU-MIMO (8×8)||MU-MINO (4×4)|
|Bandwidth||20, 40, 80+80, 160 MHz||20, 40, 80+80, 160 MHz|
|Frequency||2.4 and 5 GHz||5 GHz|
What is WiFi 6, and do I need it?
WiFi 6 is the latest generation of WiFi that builds off of the WiFi 5 802.11 ac standard for wireless network transmissions.
It is said to be the fastest WiFi standard ever released, offering a potential performance increase of up to 40% compared to WiFi 5 routers and devices. For example, if you want to enjoy 4K videos or high-resolution videos, play online games, or connect multiple devices from the same router without any interruption, then WiFi 6 ticks all the boxes.
Does WiFi 6 have a better range?
While WiFi 6 brings an enhanced network capacity and efficiency – 5925-7125 MHz, it has a smaller frequency band range at 6 GHz. Overall, the increased network capability is more substantial, and the performance is extensively enhanced. But the chances are high that the signals will be interrupted more frequently in case of any obstruction between the device and the router.
Does the PS5 have WiFi 6?
Yes, Sony PlayStation 5 supports WiFi 6. PS5 incorporates Sony J20H100 WiFi 6 network card that supports Bluetooth 5.1 and 2×2 MU-MIMO wireless transfers. Due to this module, PS5 can use 5 GHz WiFi connections and both the WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 standards. So, if you have been looking to enhance your gaming experience, you should go for WiFi 6 connectivity. With the new WiFi standard you will realize the difference in resolution, speed, and connectivity.
Is Ethernet better than WiFi 6?
Yes, Ethernet is better than WiFi 6 if you want a frequent and consistent data transfer rate without any hindrance. If you don’t have an issue with latency, you can go for ethernet. One of the biggest drawbacks of having an Ethernet connection is cable management. If you can deal with many tangled cables, you can go for an Ethernet connection over WiFi 6. Ethernet has a maximum speed of 100 Gbps in raw speed, whereas WiFi 6 can reach up to 1.5 or a little more.
What is the best WiFi 6 router?
WiFi 6 promises to expand the WiFi bandwidth from 80 MHz to 160 MHz, creating a faster channel by doubling the channel width. With the increasing demand for wireless connectivity, increased use of connected devices, and more, WiFi 5 appears to be a solid upgrade.
There are plenty of WiFi 6 router models available in the market. However, one aspect that may concern you is their price. They are not cheap but offer optimum performance. Asus RT-AX88U, TP-Link Archer AX11000, and Netgear Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream Router are the best routers or WAPs available in the Indian market.