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What is WiFi 6? 7 Big Improvements You Have to Know

WiFi 5 Vs WiFi 6 comparison

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Wi-Fi 6 is actually the sixth generation wireless networking protocol – IEEE 802.11ax, Wi-Fi 6 is not just an improvement in speed; it brings a major change to wireless networks, however, what’s WiFi6? You probably don’t know, let’s talk about WiFi 5 vs WiFi 6 in this article.

This story starts about 20 years ago.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) was founded in 1884. It has been called “the world’s largest professional academic association” for its members’ contributions to science and technology. In 1997, the institute launched the world’s first wireless LAN standards, known today as 802.11.

With a radio frequency of 2.4GHz and a maximum data transfer rate of 2Mbit/s, which allows for wireless Internet connectivity without any cables, Wifi has become one of the most popular ways for people to connect to the Internet.

To keep up with the growing number of people who want fast internet connections, IEEE has successively introduced 802.11a, b, g, n, ac. These standards have been supported by a wide variety of products from different vendors and have become widely adopted by households, hotels, restaurants, airports, gyms, offices, campuses, etc. With the popularization of mobile phones and tablets, computers, and other smart devices, people may own more than one type of wireless device, the substantial increase in the number of wireless terminal accesses has higher requirements for wireless access bandwidth, quantity, and delay.

To meet the growing demand for wireless access, the Working Group on Wireless Access Standards (WG) started developing a new wireless access standard called 802.11ax(also known as WiFi 6) in early 2014. It was officially announced in mid-2019. It is the latest revision of the IEEE 802.11specification and provides compatibility with earlier revisions of the WLAN standard, such as the current 802.11ac.

 

What is WiFi 6?

IEEE 802.11 ax, officially marketed by the WiFi alliance as Wi-Fi 6, is an IEEE standard for WLANs and the successor of 802 11 ac. It is also called high-efficiency wireless networking because it improves performance in crowded environments. It operates in licensed frequencies from 1 to 7.125 GHz, which includes the 2.4 and 5 GHz frequency ranges currently used by most people.

The main goal of the standard is to enhance throughput in high-density scenarios, such as corporate office buildings, shopping mall spaces, and dense residential apartment complexes. While the nominal data rates improvement for 802.11ac is just 37%, the overall throughput increase (for an entire network) is up to 300%, and 75% reduction in latency.

WiFi 5 vs WiFi 6

Higher Speed

Speed is one of the exciting improvements of the WiFi6 standard, which is also the most important part of the network standard upgrade. Faster speeds mean shorter download and upload times, improved streaming, faster internet connections, better video and audio conferencing, faster web surfing, etc.

Compared with the previous five generations: the first generation 802.11b (Wi-Fi 1), the fastest 11Mbit/s second generation 802.11a (Wi-Fi 2), the third generation 802.11g (Wi-Fi 3) the fastest 54Mbit/s ), the fastest 54Mbit/s fourth-generation 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4), the single-stream bandwidth of the fastest 150Mbit/s fifth-generation 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), the single-stream bandwidth of the fastest 867Mbit/s relative to WiFi 5 (802.11ac), up to 1.4 times; compared to WiFi 4 (802.11n), up to 8 times.

WiFi 5 has a theoretical maximum throughput rate of 6.9 gigabits per second (Gbps). The speed at which WiFi standards operate depends on the QAM (quadrature phase shift keying) and the number of wireless devices connected to an access point or router.

WiFi 5 uses 256QAM modulation, which is far less than WiFi6. Additionally, Wi-Fi 5 MU-MIMOs allow for just four simultaneous connections. More devices mean congestion and bandwidth sharing which leads to slower speeds for each device.

Wi-Fi 6 offers faster speeds than Wi-Fi 5, even when there are lots of people using the network. It has 1024QAM modulation and offers a theoretical maximum speed of up to 9.5 Gbps. There isn’t a huge difference between WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 speed per device. WiFi 6 is always faster than older wireless standards, but the real performance boost comes when multiple devices connect to the network.

wifi standard, wifi generations

Longer Battery life

One of the other most important features people consider when buying an electronic product is its battery life. A WiFi technology that reduces the amount of power consumed will be a better choice than one that doesn’t.

 

people charge the mobile phone for longer battery life

The battery lasts longer when connected to the WiFi 6 wireless router than when connected to the older routers. 

Wi‑Fi 6 has a new feature called the target wake time (TWT) which allows devices to conserve power by turning off when they’re not needed. Wi‑Fi Time Warp Technology (TWT) is a technology that allows devices that connect to the internet via Wi‑Fi to slow down their connection speeds when they’re not actively using them.

With WiFi 6, TWTto ensure uniform scheduling of the sleep and transmission times of terminals. Terminals are grouped together into different TWT cycles which increase sleep times and improve batteries’ lifetime.

Target Wake Time allows an access point to tell a wireless client to turn off its radio when it isn’t transmitting. Devices can determine when they’re going to be connected to WiFi so they can save power by sleeping for longer periods of time. While this functionality might not be ideal for people who use their smartphones constantly, it is perfect for IoT devices that don’t need an always-on connection.

WiFi 5 doesn’t have the TWT feature, so it can’t regulate the extent of power consumed by peripherals. 

Low Delay

Latency refers to delays in transmitting network traffic between two locations. Zero latency speeds tend to be most optimal and indicate little or none of a lag time. WiFi 6, compared to WiFi 5, offers less latency, which makes it ideal for business and corporate offices. Users who own an older version of a wireless router will also appreciate this new feature because it means faster connection speeds at all times. The average delay of WiFi 6 is reduced to 20ms, and the average delay of WiFi 5 is 30ms.

WiFi6 Core Technology

The difference between WiFi 6 and previous generations of wireless technologies lies in the introduction or upgrade of four major technologies, MU-MIMO (which stands for Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output, multi-user-multiple-input multiple-output) and OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) technologies, beamforming and security.

MU-MIMO

Today, more and more devices require access to Wi-Fi networks in homes.

Within the same Wi-Fi network, If you watch a high-definition video on a big-screen TV, then your smartphone that is watching the live broadcast may freeze.

When you working at the office, the Wi-Fi signal is full, but the internet speed is extremely slow. Why is this? The reason for this is simple: According to the 802.11ac standards, an access point (AP) can only communicate with a single device at a given moment.

At the same moment, if a large number of devices are connected to one Wi-Fi network, then the network will be slowed down and become stuck, similar to when hundreds of thousands of people crowd into a city street at the same moment, can they walk? What can we do to fix this problem? The answer is MU-MIMO.

 

crowded street with many people

With the introduction of MU-MOM technology, the wireless network can be operated in MIMO (multiple input multiple outputs) modes, which can effectively utilize the available bandwidth and improve the overall performance of the network.

MU-MIMO means that in a single wireless network, the router can serve multiple wireless devices at the same time, and the router makes full use of the spatial resources of the network to communicate with multiple users at the same time.

WiFi 5 uses MIMO (multiple-in-multiple-out) in the downlink, whereas WiFi 6 continues the MIMO (multiple users multiple outputs) introduced by WiFi 5, but WiFI 6 can support the full version of MIMO (multiple inputs multiple outputs) and can support up to eight terminals simultaneously to transmit more data upstream / downstream, which is double that of WiFi 5. Wi-Fi 6 enables routers to use multiple antennas to transmit signals simultaneously, which means they can handle multiple simultaneous connections. Compared with the previous version which could only connect to one device at a given moment, MU-MIMI is able to increase the network speed and connect more devices.

wifi 6 mu-mimo

OFDMA

Wi‑Fi 5 uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) for network access A technology that controls the access of different numbers of people to a certain channel at a given time. It drastically reduces the number of people who can connect to and access the wireless network at any one time.

Unlike WiFi 5, WiFi 6 uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which is similar to the technology of cellular networks used.

Multiple terminals can transmit simultaneously without having to queue up and compete with each other. This improves overall performance and reduces latency.

For example, originally only one carrier could transmit a single data package at once. implementing OFDMA technology, it is similar to having multiple carriers to send multiple data packages at once.

Both OFDMA and MU‑MIMO are wireless technology standards that enable multiple devices to communicate at once. However, they are quite different from each other. OFDMA can be used in high-density environments for low throughput or small packets (such as IoT) while MU-MIMOs can be used in high throughput environments. OFDMA technology is a complement to MU-MIMO.

As the core technologies of WiFi 6, OFDMA and MU-MIMO provide multi-channel concurrent technology in frequency space and physical space respectively, which brings great improvement in network performance and speed, comprehensively optimizes user experience, and redefines the speed of WiFi with passion.

Beamforming

Beamforming is a way of directing radio waves so they’re focused on one particular device rather than spread out across multiple devices. Beamforming allows devices to connect directly to each other without having to broadcast their signals in all directions. Beamforming is not an entirely new concept and has been used in both WiFi 4 and 5. Four antennas were included in Wi‑Fi 5 standard. However, WiFi 6 uses eight antennas. 

Security Protocols

Network security is extremely important for wireless networking. Wifi is commonly used in public places like office, airport and hotels. To protect sensitive information in public, it must be secured against malicious attacks by cybercriminals.

WiFi 5 has support for both WPA and WPA 2 encryption protocols for a secure connection. 

WiFi 6 has improved upon its predecessor by implementing the latest security protocol, Wi‑Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). Thus Wifi 6–capable devices use WPA, WPA 2, and WPA 3 protocols together. WiFi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) improves multi-factor authentication (MFA) and encryption processing. It has the OWP (One Wire Protocol) technology that prevents automatic decryption and, finally, scan-and-connect OR code stickers to connect to devices directly.

Wi-Fi 6E: The Next Generation of Wireless Technology

WiFi 6 is already very strong, but with the popularity of Wi-Fi networks, there are now even more Wi-Fi access points (APs) in homes than before. As a result, the jamming problem has become increasingly severe. 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies are so crowded that it’s hard for WiFi to provide a fast and stable connection.

WiFi 6E was launched in 2021. It was just one year after the launch of the WiFi 6 standard. Wi-Fi 6e simply means the current Wi-Fi 6 technology has been expanded to include the 6 GHz band. 

Wifi6e, the letter “e” in 6e is the word “extended,” WiFi6E adds 6GHz frequency bands on the basis of the 6th Generation. According to the above explaintion, we already know that the higher the frequency, the faster the speed.

However, the higher the frequency and the shorter the wavelength, the ability to penetrate the wall will be significantly weakened.

6g Hz, the frequency band range is 5925 to 7125 MHz, Wifi6e supports three frequency bands of 2.4g, 5g and 6g at the same time. Devices with high network speed requirements use 6g signals, and other devices use 2.4g and 5g  signals, which effectively relieves network congestion.

Moreover, there are 7 channels of 160MHz bandwidth, 14 channels of 80MHz, 29 channels of 40MHz, and 60 channels of 20MHz for the 6GHz signal, for a total of 110 channels.

The numbers may sound exaggerated, but don’t get too excited. Each country has its own wireless standard, it is impossible to use all 110 letters, but at least it is much better than 2.4g and 5g.

wifi 6 vs wifi 6e

Do I Need to Buy WiFi 6 Router?

The answer is yes, but maybe not now.

WiFi 6 promises faster speeds, better security, and a longer range. While there are many benefits to upgrading to WiFi 6, however since the WiFi 6 technology has just come out not long, the chips are not yet mature and the output is not high, so the price of WiFi 6-related routers on the market is still very expensive.

WiFi 6 vs Wireless HDMI Extender

For more information about WiFi6, Please refer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_6.

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