6 Reasons You Should Get Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation standard in Wi-Fi technology that builds and improves upon the current 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.
Wi-Fi 6 was created to meet our increasing demand for a network that can handle the growing number of devices in the household.
While Wi-Fi 5 was focused on increasing speed, Wi-Fi 6 does more than just boost speeds. It supports more simultaneous device connections without compromising on experience. But first, we should answer the basic question...
What is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 is the newest Wi-Fi standard.
The number 6 indicates that it is the sixth iteration of Wi-Fi standards. It was introduced in 2018 and aims at solving the congestion and satisfy the growing need for efficient Wi-Fi connections. Like previous Wi-Fi standards, Wi-Fi 6 offers increased network speeds. Using a router with a single device, maximum potential speeds will be up to 40% higher with Wi-Fi 6 than is possible with Wi-Fi 5. However, it’s under heavy network loads that Wi-Fi 6 truly shines. So let’s look at some reasons you’d want it.
1. Faster Speeds
Simply put, Wi-Fi 6 single stream's speed has been raised to 1.2 Gbps—20% faster than connecting through a gigabit Ethernet cable.
If you look at the theoretical top speed, Wi-Fi 6 gets 9.6 Gbps (an increase compared to Wi-Fi 5 which clocks in at 6.9 Gbps). Although most client devices won't be able to support this speed—8 antennas and huge amounts of power are required—but wireless speeds higher than 1 Gbps still deliver 3 advantages:
- It's more likely you will be able to make the most of your bandwidth with only one device when you have a Gigabit internet in your house.
- More devices can share high-speed Wi-Fi at the same time since the high bandwidth doesn't need to go to one client.
- Intranet, or the network within your home, goes to gigabit wirelessly. This makes transferring files between clients faster and easier.
2. Smoother Connections for More Devices
Today, the average number of devices for a home is 10+. This number is predicted to rise to 20+ within a few years.
When devices are added to a network, the performance usually goes down as routers can only communicate with one device at one time (though MU-MIMO makes simultaneous communication possible for up to 4). This causes other devices to wait, reducing their speeds.
Wi-Fi 5 is struggling to tackle these emerging problems—downloading videos might make your game lag or video chatting with a friend may jitter in low-quality because someone is streaming a 4K movie.
To make Wi-Fi sharing enjoyable, Wi-Fi 6 introduces a core technology that drastically improves the connectivity; OFDMA.
Top image depects 802.11ac | without OFDMA, Bottom image shows 802.11ax | OFDMA
OFDMA calculates the bandwidth needs of each client. This enables sending or receiving data for multiple clients in one broadcast simultaneously possible so that Wi-Fi performance stays smooth. Imagine a series of delivery trucks delivering data. Under Wi-Fi 5, one truck (one broadcast) only carries data for one person. Now each truck can carry data for multiple people, as long as the space is sufficient.
This benefits small-package applications the most, especially when it comes to gaming and streaming, by cutting the latency and improving the average speed.
OFDMA technology was applied to cellular technology for the same purpose and resolved the congestion problem. Now you know why the Wi-Fi network in the airport lags while your phone can stream flawless video using your 4G cellular network.
MU-MIMO also gets upgraded in Wi-Fi 6.
MU-MIMO was introduced in Wi-Fi 5 as an amendment. It allows up to 4 streams for different devices. You can think of these as 4 highways that the previously mentioned delivery trucks can run on. However, it only works in the downlink direction.
With Wi-Fi 6, the number of streams doubled. Now there are 8 “highways” for devices to simultaneous connect through and MU-MIMO works both for uplink and downlink.
3. Advanced Security Protection
Wi-Fi has been using WPA2 as its recommended security protocol since 2004.
A more secure new standard WPA3 will soon be available along with Wi-Fi 6 routers.
WPA3 introduces a live password system that is generated with every data transmission. The password that matches the data is no longer valid by the next transmission, making a hacker have to guess the password by interacting with Wi-Fi devices. But even this method won’t necessarily work as Wi-Fi devices can block the hacker’s device if it fails too many times.
This means you can keep your network secure while using a password that’s easier to remember.
New security protocols were announced in 2018, and Wi-Fi 6 will be backing this new protocol to become the new, mandatory Wi-Fi encryption method.
4. Conserves Battery Life on Mobile Devices
After fixing the safety issues, Wi-Fi 6 still has more benefits to give. It provides a power-saving method for clients.
Two features are introduced.
The first is Target Wake Time. This technology schedules the transmission cycle for each device which allows devices to “sleep” more. Mobile devices can keep their antenna deactivated and only turn it on at the times negotiated with the router, substantially preserving battery power.
Wi-Fi 6 also allows a power-saving 20 MHz stream to coexist with the high-speed 160 Mhz. With Wi-Fi 5, once the bandwidth is set to 80 MHz, all devices will maintain the same speed using same bandwidth. This isn’t such a good deal for IoT devices as they do not need high speed, but do require a longer battery life.
For the impact on the laptops or phones, we may see less difference, cause the juice is mainly drained by the CPU or Graphics Card. However, battery-powered IoT devices, like a sensor or cable-free camera, will benefit a lot—especially when compared to connecting with an 11n Wi-Fi network.
5. Works with Existing Devices
Since devices won't be switched over to the new standard overnight, just like its predecessor, Wi-Fi 6 is fully backwards compatible with older Wi-Fi standards—without needing extra settings.
Purchasing a Wi-Fi 6 router makes your home network ready for the future of Wi-Fi, and it will also improve the network experience on your existing Wi-Fi devices since the latest routers bring cutting-edge hardware that outperforms what was previously available.
6. You Can Future Proof Your Home
Wi-Fi 6 devices are starting to make waves—Samsung, Dell, and Razer have all included Wi-Fi 6 support in their latest products. Even the pending iPhone 11 will support Wi-Fi 6.
You may not necessarily purchase a laptop just because it has Wi-Fi 6, but when upgrading a router it is definitely worth considering Wi-Fi 6 because:
- Wi-Fi 6 routers utilize the latest CPU and chipset, which are way more powerful than a Wi-Fi 5 router at the same price.
- Wi-Fi 6 routers come with more running memory than similarly priced Wi-Fi 5 routers, meaning they can support more data for multiple applications.
- A Wi-Fi 6 router is more likely to maintain a higher speed when connecting more devices than a same or higher speed Wi-Fi 5 router. (eg. AX1500 vs. AC1750)
- Upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router benefits your home immediately and you won’t need to upgrade for next 5+ years.
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