With more devices in our homes that can connect to the internet nowadays, we need faster internet connections. But, when it comes to electronic devices for consumers, they can connect to the internet using an Ethernet connection, or better, using the home Wi-Fi network.
What is the WiFi 6?
With an ever-increasing number of devices that need to be connected to the internet through Wi-Fi, it is also necessary to use a Wi-Fi network that could efficiently handle communication with multiple devices at once. With the demand for efficient and fast wireless internet connection, we all have seen improvements in the Wi-Fi technology, and the latest iteration to the Wi-Fi standards is Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 comes with significant improvements in speed, connection, and reliability, and with the new standard, more devices can efficiently connect to a Wi-Fi network for accessing the internet or for other requirements. So today, I will talk about how Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11AX is better than 802.11AC, and other older standards for Wi-Fi. Even if you are planning to ditch your Ethernet cables because they are just too small and they create a lot of mess, Wi-Fi 6 can be a viable solution. Most people can switch to Wi-Fi, but don’t do that, especially due to latency problems while doing intensive tasks like playing games. But Wi-Fi 6 is likely to solve most problems that lead to higher latency and low speeds.
“Wifi 6 Benefits”
So, without any further delay, let’s get started with the improvements of Wi-Fi 6 over its predecessor.
Wifi 6 first benefit is Better speeds
We all want more speeds on our Wi-Fi network, obviously, if our ISP is offering us the same, but the Wi-Fi router can’t achieve those speeds. When it comes to Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11AX, the increase in speed isn’t as satisfactory as it was from 802.11n to 802.11AC, the previous two generations of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6 can offer maximum theoretical speeds up to 10 Gbps, which seems to be a thrilling number, however, the actual practical speeds that you will get will be far less than that, and it will depend upon the router that you are using, the clients, number of devices connected, and the presence of other signals in the air.
The speeds on a Wi-Fi 6 router or device will also vary depending upon which band that is used. The speed will be limited to around 1.2 Gbps on a 2.4 GHz band, and 4.8 Gbps on a 5 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6 will also introduce more bands, and they will likely offer more speeds, but achieving the 10 Gbps speed will hardly make its way from dream to reality. But it is not only the speeds. Wi-Fi 6 delivers better overall performance with some other performance improvements tweaks I will discuss next.
OFDMA and MU-MIMO
With OFDMA, the acronym for Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access, the existing channel used for communication is divided into multiple smaller channels, which offers more flexibility for data transfer. Depending upon the requirements of a particular client, more space in the channel can be allotted, while the other channels can be used for talking with other clients in the network. For example, if you are watching a 4K movie, more space in the channel will be allotted to you, than your sibling who is busy with his college assignment and is completing the writeups, which require comparatively fewer bandwidth. This eventually boosts the efficiency of the overall network.
OFDMA also works with MU-MIMO or Multi-User, Multiple Input Multiple Output, which is used to communicate with multiple devices at the same instant, instead of one. You might argue, all the devices connect to the Wi-Fi are communicating at the same time, but the truth is far from that. Instead of communicating with all the devices at once, the routers communicate with the only device at an instant, and switches to another very quickly, humans can hardly understand. But when it comes to gaming and other tasks, such small intervals can also make huge differences, and that’s why MU-MIMO was introduced with Wi-Fi 802.11AC standard. But 802.11AX can communicate with 8 devices at once, instead of just 4, in 802.11AC, and both upstream and downstream is carried out at the same time on all the 8 devices. Thus, OFDMA, in connection with MU-MIMO makes better use of the available bandwidth and essentially makes the Wi-Fi connection even more efficient.
The concept of BSS coloring or Basic Service Set coloring is exclusively available on Wi-Fi 6, and it helps a lot in improving the connection. What happens here is simple. The Wi-Fi access point can attach a color to the data chunks it is transferring so that it can be differentiated from the other signals in the air from other access points using the same channel. Even if the access point senses, there are other access points or devices on the network using the same color, an access point can even change the color to make the signal transmission take place without waiting.
Wi-Fi signals can’t be seen, and just because, Wi-Fi 802.11AX will use coloring, doesn’t mean, the signals will be visible. What BSS coloring will do is, it will add an identifier to the frames for understanding, which device it will fly to, or from where it is coming. It is just a name and doesn’t have anything to do with the colors that we can see or perceive with our pair of eyes.
Power efficiency and Target Wake Time
Unlike other W-Fi standards, Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11AX can also be a blessing for your portable devices powered by batteries. With a new technology introduced in the new standard, devices connected to the Wi-Fi AP can negotiate, when they will communicate with the AP in idle mode, which will eventually be helpful in saving battery. This is achieved using a new technology called Target Wake Time, which allows the devices connected to an AP to communicate at certain intervals.
Even though this is a useful feature, most devices, like mobile devices or laptops that require an always-on internet connection will hardly benefit from it. But this feature is perhaps introduced keeping IoT devices in mind that needs to communicate with the wireless AP, only when it senses some change or so. In such devices, which are battery-operated, Wi-Fi 6 can definitely be beneficial, when both the router, as well as the client devices will support the new standard.
Well, Wi-Fi 6 routers are already available in the market, but the client devices aren’t widely available as of now. But, when it comes to newer Wi-Fi standards, they are accepted pretty quickly, and we might have to wait only a few more months or a year before we can see Wi-Fi 6 client devices hitting the consumer market.
So, that was all that you should know about the new Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11AX standard. Do you have anything to say? Feel free to comment on the same below.