What is Wi-Fi 6 and how can it improve wireless connections?

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Martí Micolau
What is Wi-Fi 6 and how can it improve wireless connections?

A concise description of the new Wi-Fi standard

Wi-Fi 6 it is the latest version of the Wi-Fi communication standard. Its official name, according to the traditional method of identifying old versions, is 802.11ax, and represents a considerable improvement on the previous standard, the802.11ac.

The naming system determined by the Wi-Fi Alliance (the organization that takes care of the Wi-Fi implementation) is moving to a system of numbering much easier to remember. The previous version, the 802.11ac, is renamed Wi-Fi 5, while "ax" it becomes Wi-Fi 6.

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Finally, we no longer have to ask ourselves if "ac" is better than "n", or if "g" is better or not. This confusion will be blown away by the new system: 6 is better than 5. And it's much easier to remember. 

The devices will be much faster. Anyone who owns a Wi-Fi device and a Wi-Fi 6 router should be able to get it speeds up to 40% faster than Wi-Fi 5 (ac). This is possible thanks to more efficient data encoding and the compression of more data in the radio waves.

Il Wi-Fi 6 it offers better performance, especially in congested areas such as stadiums, airports and offices, and in homes that use a large number of wireless devices.

At home, in particular, this means that if someone is streaming a 4K movie it won't slow you down while you're playing.

The new version of the standard also makes the battery last longer. Wi-Fi 6, in fact, has a new feature called TWT ("target wait time") which extends the battery life because the access point tells the device when to put the Wi-Fi in stand-by and when to switch back on to receive a new data transmission.

If the Wi-Fi radio is put on standby more it is clear that less energy is absorbed and the battery will last longer.

The principle of operation is this: Wi-Fi 6 divides the wireless channels into a large number of sub-channels, so that the access point can communicate with more devices at a time than it could in the past, using technology MIMO (Multiple In Multiple Out). The devices, however, could not all respond simultaneously. Wi-Fi 6 will incorporate an improved version of the multi-user technology known as MU-MIMO. This feature will make it possible for all devices to respond at the same time.

The devices will see available networks and their version numbers. If two networks are available, your device will show them with labels such as "Wi-Fi 5" and "Wi-Fi 6", so you can quickly and easily choose the fastest.

La Wi-Fi Alliance wants the new language to start appearing this year, especially on more modern routers. Some manufacturers are already using it, but standardization is expected in the second half of 2019.

A logo will also be placed on new devices that will leverage Wi-Fi 6 to indicate that the product has passed the Alliance certification process.

Obviously, to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6 it will not be enough to buy a new router but you will also need to have a compatible device that uses that technology. If not, we will continue to use Wi-Fi 5 ...

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