Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi. It does all the things that your current Wi-Fi does, but with the benefit of new technologies to make things faster and more efficient.
The history of Wi-Fi
The oldest versions of Wi-Fi weren’t officially branded. But, as a summary, here’s how Wi-Fi has evolved:
- Wi-Fi 1 (802.11b) released in 1999
- Wi-Fi 2 (802.11a) released in 1999
- Wi-Fi 3 (802.11g) released in 2003
- Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) released in 2009
- Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) released in 2014
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) released in 2019.
What’s the difference between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G?
The sixth generation of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6 is a short-range wireless access technology. It is the same Wi-Fi you have been using, but with a range of additional technologies. As more and more of us use the internet to do more and more things, it makes sense that our Wi-Fi needs to improve to meet this demand.
Wi-Fi 6 is ideal for indoor networks. And crucially, rather than looking at the speed of individual devices, Wi-Fi 6 will improve networks when a bunch of devices are connected – while using less energy. This is vital to stop networks from slowing down.
5G is the fifth generation of mobile internet connectivity. It is a cellular service which promises to deliver much faster download and upload speeds, more comprehensive coverage and more stable internet connections. It is likely to be the preferred method for outdoor networks.
5G and Wi-Fi 6 are complementary technologies. Together, they will give us the power to connect more devices, support new applications and increase our network capacity.
The benefits of Wi-Fi 6
The next generation of Wi-Fi is about much more than a pure speed boost. In fact, there are many advantages to Wi-Fi 6. Here are just some of them:
- Significant improvements in network speed/much greater bandwidth than the current generation of Wi-Fi
- Provides a consistent, reliable network connection
- Transmits more data to more users than previous Wi-Fi standards
- Cost-effective to deploy, maintain and scale
- Has the ability to connect more devices reliably via wireless
- Makes it easier to deliver immersive experiences (e.g. via augmented reality and virtual reality)
- More secure due to a new Wi-Fi security protocol called WPA3. For a Wi-Fi 6 device to receive certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, WPA3 is required
- Energy-efficient/longer battery life.
The most significant advantage Wi-Fi 6 has over Wi-Fi 5 is how it handles crowded and busy networks. This is important as, in the Internet of Things, the number of internet-connected devices and streaming services (e.g. to watch 4k movies) we all use is only going to increase. So, with Wi-Fi 6, the internet will be significantly better in crowded spaces such as stadiums and airports. But it will also be better in busy households.
Wi-Fi generations rely on new hardware, so you’ll need to buy new phones, laptops, a router, etc. to get Wi-Fi 6. The recently released iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are already Wi-Fi 6 compatible. However, it’s essential to add that, in most cases, the infrastructure to support Wi-Fi 6 isn’t quite there yet. But that is set to change over the next couple of years as our capabilities keep evolving.
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