Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation standard in Wi-Fi technology. Wi-Fi 6 is short for the 802.11ax standard, it is successor to Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ac. With the evolution of Wi-Fi standards, Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) renames Wi-Fi standards using sequence numbers to help Wi-Fi users and device vendors easily learn about their connected and supported Wi-Fi device models. Additionally, the new naming convention is to better highlight the significant progress of Wi-Fi technology. The latest standard supports a large number of new functions to provide higher throughput, faster speed, and more concurrent connections.
How Fast Is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax, the newer standard offers theoretical speeds of up to 10Gbps, which is approximately 3x times faster than its successor Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac). Wi-Fi 6 also offers better performance and speed on concurrent devices connected to same router.
Core Technologies of Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) inherits all advanced MIMO features of Wi Fi 5 (802.11ac) and introduces many new features for high density deployment scenarios. The following are the new core features of Wi Fi 6:
The 802.11ax standard introduces Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology to Wi-Fi for the first time. Used for some time in cellular phone systems, OFDMA divides each WLAN sub-channel into multiple subsets so that the available bandwidth can be allocated to more users. Each station using the Wi-Fi system occupies one or more portions of a channel, depending on the bandwidth required. Access Point (AP) scheduling allows multiple stations to receive and send packets at the same time, thereby reducing contention and backoff between stations, lowering network latency, and improving network efficiency.
DL/UL MU-MIMO Technology
The 802.11ax standard extends Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology from 4 x 4 (four antennas and radios) in 802.11ac Wave 2 to 8 x 8. The 802.11ax standard introduces uplink MU-MIMO technology to communicate with more stations simultaneously, thereby improving the system capacity and overall data rate.
802.11ax introduces the higher-order modulation and coding scheme 1,024-QAM. Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) combines signal phase and amplitude variations to encode bits into “symbols” for transmission. The higher the number in the name of the modulation scheme, the more finely the technology is dividing the available radio spectrum. Thus, 1,024-QAM achieves 25 percent higher transmission efficiency compared to the 256-QAM used in Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac).
BSS-Color Spatial Reuse Technique
Wi-Fi 6 enables a spatial reuse technique to improve system performance and spectrum resource utilization in dense deployment environments.
Based on a Basic Service Set (BSS) coloring mechanism, an 802.11ax AP can identify overlapping BSSs from adjacent APs and dynamically adjust the Clear Channel Assessment (CCA) threshold as well as transmit power to avoid interference. This ongoing adjustment capability allows multiple APs to cover an area with minimal contention, so that the whole Wi-Fi 6 setup can implement channel spatial reuse to improve system performance and capacity.
Is Wi-Fi 6 Worth It?
If you’re planning to upgrade your home wireless network to Wi-Fi 6, i think it’s better to wait a little more. As of now, Wi-Fi 6 compatibility is still very low, only few smartphones and laptops and other wireless devices supports Wi-Fi 6 till today. A good Wi-Fi 5 network at your home can still give you enough bandwidth for all your internet needs. Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11ac supported routers commonly offers 600Mbps or more of bandwidth, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 will not increase your internet speed if your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is limited to 100Mbps.