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What’s Different, and Why it Matters

Wi-Fi 6 is the next-generation wireless standard, faster than 802.11ac. More than speed, it will offer better performance in congested areas, stadiums at your home filled with appliances. He arrives in 2019.

Wi-Fi now has version numbers

Images from the Wi-Fi Alliance for device manufacturers.

Yes, Wi-Fi now has version numbers! Even these confusing old standard Wi-Fi names such as "802.11ac" have been renamed to user-friendly names such as "Wi-Fi 5".

Here are the versions of Wi-Fi you will see:

Wi-Fi 4 is 802.11n, published in 2009.
Wi-Fi 5 is 802.11ac, published in 2014.
Wi-Fi 6 is the new version, also called 802.11ax. Its release is scheduled for 2019.

The Wi-Fi Alliance also also announced that would like these numbers to appear in software so that you can determine which Wi-Fi network is the most recent and fastest when connecting to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You may see Wi-Fi numbers on your phone, tablet, or laptop soon.

Older versions of Wi-Fi are not widely used and are not officially registered. But if they were, here is what they would call themselves:

Wi-Fi 1 would have been 802.11b, released in 1999.
Wi-Fi 2 would have been 802.11a, also released in 1999.
Wi-Fi 3 would have been in 802.11g, released in 2003.

Faster Wi-Fi

As usual, the latest Wi-Fi standard offers faster data transfer speeds. If you are using a Wi-Fi router with a single device, the maximum potential speeds should be up to 40% higher with Wi-Fi 6 than with Wi-Fi 5.

Wi-Fi 6 achieves this through more efficient data encoding, which translates into higher throughput. Primarily, more data is stored in the same radio waves. The chips that code and decode these signals become more and more powerful and can handle the extra work.

This new standard even increases the speeds on the networks at 2.4 GHz . While the industry has moved to 5GHz Wi-Fi for less interference, 2.4GHz technology is still more effective at penetrating solid objects. And there should not be as much interference with the 2.4 GHz frequency as old cordless phones and wireless baby monitors are turned off.

Longer battery life

A new "Time to wake at target time" (TWT) feature means that your smartphone, laptop and other Wi-Fi enabled devices should also have a longer battery life.

When the access point communicates with a device (such as your smartphone), it can tell it exactly when to put its Wi-Fi radio on standby and exactly when to wake up to receive the next transmission. This will save energy, as it means that the Wi-Fi radio can spend more time in standby mode. And that means a longer battery life.

This will also contribute to the low power [ Internet of Things ] devices that connect via Wi-Fi.

Best performance in overcrowded areas

Wi-Fi tends to get bogged down when you're in an overcrowded place with many Wi-Fi enabled devices. Imagine a stadium, an airport, a hotel, a shopping center or even a cluttered office with all the connected to Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi will probably be slow.

The new Wi-Fi network 6, also known as 802.11ax, incorporates many new technologies. Intel thinks that Wi-Fi 6 will "at least four times" improve the average speed of every user in congested areas with many connected devices.

This would not apply only to busy public places. This could apply to your home if many devices are connected to Wi-Fi or if you live in a dense apartment complex.

How Wi-Fi Fights Congestion

Qualcomm claims various features that make up "11ax", now Wi-Fi 6.

You do not really need to know the details. A Wi-Fi 6 access point with a Wi-Fi 6 device will work better. But here's what happens under the hood:

Wi-Fi 6 can now divide a wireless channel into a large number of subchannels. Each of these subchannels can carry data for a different device. This is achieved through something called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access, or OFDMA. The point of Wi-Fi access can communicate with more devices simultaneously.

The new unmanned standard has also improved MIMO: Multiple In / Multiple Out. This involves multiple antennas, which allows the access point to communicate with multiple devices at once. With Wi-Fi 5, the access point can communicate with the devices at the same time, but these devices can not respond at the same time. The Wi-Fi 6 has an enhanced version of the multi-user mode or MU-MIMO that allows devices to respond to the wireless access point simultaneously.

Wireless access points close to each other can transmit on the same channel. In this case, the radio listens and waits for a clear signal before responding. With Wi-Fi 6, wireless access points close to each other can be configured to have different "colors" of Basic Service Sets (BSS). This "color" is a number between 0 and 7. If a device verifies if the channel is everything is clear and tuned, it may notice a transmission with a weak signal and a different "color". He can then ignore this signal and still send without waiting. This will improve performance in congested areas. It is also called "spatial frequency". reuse. "

These are just some of the most interesting things, but the new Wi-Fi standard also includes many more modest enhancements. Wi-Fi 6 will also include an improved beam for example.

Search for "Wi-Fi 6" and "Certified Wi-Fi 6"

When purchasing a new device, you will not look in the datasheet or try to remember if 802.11ac or 802.11ax is the latest. The maker of the device can say that he has "Wi-Fi 6" or "Wi-Fi 5".

You will also see the "Wi-Fi 6 Certified" logo on devices that have gone through the Wi-Fi Alliance certification process. Previously, there was a "Wi-Fi Certified" logo that did not tell you the generation of a product, unless you were looking at the specs.

These Wi-Fi routers 6 should support WPA3 to facilitate secure connections to Wi-Fi networks as well, but support for WPA3 is not required.

When will you get it?

ASUS announced its router RT-AX88U . It incorporates some 802.11ax technologies but does not support the final standard, which is not yet finished.

Some routers may already advertise "802.11ax technology", but Wi-Fi 6 is not yet finalized. There is also no available Wi-Fi 6 client device.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is waiting for the standard to be finalized and the material published in 2019. You should not even think about it: in the future, new routers, smartphones, tablets , laptops, etc. other Wi-Fi enabled devices will come with this technology.

As always, the sender and recipient must support the latest generation of Wi-Fi for you to enjoy the benefits. In other words, if you want to enjoy Wi-Fi performance 6 on your phone, you'll need a wireless router (point of access) and a smartphone taking in. Wi-Fi charging 6. If you connect a laptop that supports only Wi-Fi 5 on your Wi-Fi router 6, this particular connection will work in Wi-Fi mode 5. But your router can still use Wi-Fi 6 with your phone at the same time.

Version numbers are excellent but not required

We are excited about the version numbers. It's a simple and easy change that should have been done a long time ago. It should be much easier for normal people to understand Wi-Fi. After all, many people can get faster Wi-Fi speeds by when upgrading their home routers – but all of world does not know it.

However, the Wi-Fi Alliance has no power to compel companies to use these version numbers, although they "encourage" companies to adopt them. Some manufacturers may ignore these version numbers and simply call the new generation of Wi-Fi "802.11ax". Many companies will probably not be in a hurry to rename the existing 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5.

We hope most companies will quickly adopt the new naming system.

Credit: Sergey91988 /Shutterstock.com, Wi-Fi Alliance Intel Qualcomm ASUS

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