802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 as marketed by Wi-Fi Alliance, is the next generation Wi-Fi specification standard following Wi-Fi 5. Higher speed, flexibility and scalability distinguish Wi-Fi 6 from others.
How Did Wi-Fi 6 Emerge?
The term “Wi-Fi 6” was first coined as an industry definition by the Wi-Fi Alliance in 2018. Wi-Fi 6, a simplified version of 802.11ax, is a follow-up of Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5.
The Wi-Fi Alliance approves networks and devices as “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6”, looking at whether the IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11ax standards and specifications set by the Alliance match each other. These standards can be applied to devices such as routers, smartphones, home appliances and video game consoles. Even the networks themselves can be certified.
The IEEE 802.11ax standard was first researched in 2014 and initiated by the IEEE High Efficiency WLAN Study Group (HEW SG). The group aims to improve spectrum efficiency and improve performance in apartments with many routers or in places with high network density, such as huge stadiums. The group wanted to find new methods to support multiple high-demand devices and began certifications in late 2019.
How Does Wi-Fi 6 Differ From Others?
One day soon, most of our connected devices will have Wi-Fi 6 enabled. There are undoubtedly many aspects that distinguish this standard from others. Wi-Fi 6 continues to offer new improvements while maintaining backward compatibility for older devices. Before looking at the advantages of Wi-Fi 6, let’s remember the old versions:
- Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax (released in 2019)
- Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac (released in 2014)
- Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n (released 2009)
- Wi-Fi 3 to identify devices that support 802.11g (released in 2003)
- Wi-Fi 2 to identify devices that support 802.11a (released in 1999)
- Wi-Fi 1 to identify devices that support 802.11b (released in 1999)
In the last 20 years, there have been major advances in Wi-Fi technologies. We are a long way from where we started. The latest version, Wi-Fi 6 is distinguished from others by its success in higher speed, more efficient use, higher security measures, and extending battery life. In addition, the introduction of more smart devices into our lives with the concept of the “Internet of Things” increases the number of devices connected to the Wi-Fi network. This means that there are more instant data flow. The importance of Wi-Fi 6, which is high-speed and allows you to connect to many devices at the same time, can be better understood in view of the increase in robot use in the manufacturing sector, as well as technologies such as virtual reality.
Faster Internet Experience With Wi-Fi 6
According to Intel’s data, “Wi-Fi 6 has a maximum workload of 9.6 Gbps on multiple channels compared to 3.5 Gbps in Wi-Fi 5.” Based on this, it can be concluded that a Wi-Fi 6-enabled router will be 250% faster than existing Wi-Fi 5 devices.
Today, there are many more Wi-Fi enabled devices in our homes than before. It’s possible to connect almost everything from smartphones, tablets, televisions to doorbells to a wireless router. Wi-Fi 6 communicates better with multiple devices at the same time than before and directs the traffic between these devices more efficiently.
The feature that makes Wi-Fi 6 stand out in this speed race is to be an OFDM-based technology. OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access) divides channels into subcarriers and allows better communication with multiple devices at the same time. A Wi-Fi 6 router can send different signals from each other through the same transmission window. This prevents other devices from waiting for their turn when data is presented over the router network. Instead, it allows a single transmission from the router to communicate with multiple devices.
What Is Wi-Fi 6E? What are the differences from Wi-Fi 6?
Before the Wi-Fi 6 standard became fully widespread, the Wi-Fi Alliance made a surprise by presenting its new standard, which it described as Wi-Fi 6E, to the world of technology.
The Wi-Fi 6E standard, developed to further increase capacity and enable more efficient connectivity on more devices, actually has basically the same features as Wi-Fi 6. The biggest difference between them is that Wi-Fi 6 has 2.5 GHz and 5GHz frequencies and can reach 9.6 Gbps data transfer rates, while Wi-Fi 6E can use a 6GHz frequency. The biggest advantage of the 6GHz frequency, which is added next to the 2.5 GHz and 5GHz frequencies, is undoubtedly to provide high data outputs and coverage area for applications that need high bandwidth.
The Wi-Fi 6E standard will be especially ideal for virtual reality applications and high-resolution video streaming services such as 4K or 8K. From this point of view, it is possible to say that the Wi-Fi 6 standard will be enough for mainstream users for a little more time.
The 6GHz frequency should be made accessible by regulatory agencies for the Wi-Fi 6E standard to work in all aspects. Although preparations for this are being made gradually in countries, widespread use of Wi-Fi 6E is not expected in the short term.
What Are the Advantages of Wi-Fi 6?
Speed: Speed is one of the key advantages of Wi-Fi 6. It’s a known fact that the current speed is slowing as more devices go online. This was an important problem for older versions of Wi-Fi. Bandwidth was being shared, and as the number of devices on the network increased, the speed slowed. But now there is Wi-Fi 6! 2.5 times faster than the old version, this new version’s speed is so much better than the old version.
OFDMA Technology: With this technology, you can find out how many devices are connected to your network and how much internet these devices use. Even Wi-Fi 6 with OFDMA technology allows you to distribute the speed it has more efficiently than in older versions, using the maximum power provided by your existing internet line. This feature is a great innovation for offices, dorms, airports, hospitals and cafes where much faster and more stable internet access is required.
WPA3: Technological innovations aside, it is now more difficult than ever to secure the existing data obtained. WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) is a common Wi-Fi security protocol that uses the login password method for the need for encryption. If any password is required to log into a Wi-Fi network, this process is WPA. This is changing with Wi-Fi 6, while the standard has long been WPA2. One of the best improvements to the security point is the Dragonfly Key Exchange system, also called SAE or Simultaneous Authentication of Equals. Password security is increased with this system. The authentication method used here collaborates with the Wi-Fi network, uses a more complex method and makes passwords difficult. It will be possible for the Wi-Fi network to become more secure than ever thanks to this strong encryption. The extra layer of security is a good example of how Wi-Fi 6 can be improved without adversely affecting the user experience.
Battery Life and TWT: Another advantage of Wi-Fi 6 is to have the ability to extend battery life on some devices with TWT (Target Wake Time). This application provides efficient communication between the router and the device about when and how often devices will wake up to send and receive data. In this way, the device is active only when it needs to be awake and spends less time and energy searching for a wireless signal. This increases battery life.
What Is Required to Use Wi-Fi 6?
We discussed in detail what the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 are. So, let’s talk about the two most important situations that must be considered in order to benefit from this technology:
Router must be compatible with Wi-Fi 6: To take advantage of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, first you must be sure that your router has Wi-Fi 6. In view of the most manufacturers now offer routers compatible with Wi-Fi 6, it can be easily said that there are a lot of options suitable for this purpose.
The device must be compatible with Wi-Fi 6: In order to use Wi-Fi 6, of course, your device must also be compatible with Wi-Fi 6. As the demand for Wi-Fi 6 increases in the coming years, the production of such devices will undoubtedly increase.
As a result, Wi-Fi 6, a faster, more flexible and more scalable Wi-Fi specification standard, is one of the most important steps in wireless network technologies. Compared to older versions of Wi-Fi and considering the advantages, it is possible to say that the interest in Wi-Fi 6 will increase even more in the coming years.
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