WIFI 6 Explained

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The demand for faster internet and higher bandwidth is a result of more devices connecting to the internet. Upgrade of network infrastructures and protocols is needed to meet the burgeoning internet demands. WiFi 6 standard is developed in response to the growing number of devices in the world. Also, WIFI 6 will be faster, energy-efficient, and better at transferring data than previous standards.

THE WIFI 6 NAME

802.11ax is the original IEEE naming standard for WiFi 6. But WiFi Alliance has voted to give WiFi an easy name so that most people can relate to the various WiFI modifications. 

The old name will remain relevant to Network Administrators and ICT professionals but for the general public, WiFI (number) is the name to remember and WiFI alliance is pushing the new name. 

OFDMA

OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access) is the same technology adopted in 4G LTE. This innovation is designed to improve data transmission efficiency by reducing the individual waiting time for devices.

OFDMA
Image Source: Science Direct

It works by splitting the data transmission channel into a large number of subchannels. These subchannels can carry data intended for a different device.

MU-MIMO

MU-MIMO(multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output) is a technology which exists in use in present 802.11ac (WiFi 4) and devices, however, 802.11ax(Wi-Fi 6) upgrades it.

The technology allows an access point to interact with multiple devices at the same time, rather than broadcasting to one device at a time. The current MU-MIMO in 802.11ac (WiFi 4) allows routers to communicate with four devices at a time but WiFi 6 steps that up to eight. 

TARGET WAKE TIME (TWT)

Target Wake Time enables devices to determine when and how often they will wake up to send or receive data. This allows 802.11ax(WIFI 6) access points to effectively increase device sleep time and significantly conserve battery life, a feature which is very important for IoT devices and mobile phones.

A simple analogy of TWT, with 802.11ac(WiFi 4) the access point usually sends a broadcast signal to alert all devices of a possible data transmissions. Since the AP can only communicate with one station at a time, they have to “stay awake” to receive data packets from the AP one after another regardless of how long that process takes. This causes extra power consumption and shorter battery lives for network devices.

BACKWARD COMPATIBILITY

WiFi 6 is backwards compatible with devices which comes with 802.11n(WIFI 3) and 802.11ac (WiFi 5) devices. If you are opportune to get yourself a WiFi 6 Access Point or Router you don’t have to change all your home devices, WiFi 6 will work perfectly fine with then but those devices will be capped at there previous existing speeds.

You will need a device with WiFI 6 capability to take advantage of all the WiFi 6 speed.

SPEEDS

Talking about speed, that which everyone is interested in. Of course, there is a significant theoretical speed boost to 9.6 Gbps. That’s up from 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5. Although these speeds are theoretical and your very much unlikely to hit these speeds, but it’s a good thing to have large bandwidth like this especially when you’re looking to connecting lots of devices. 

SECURITY

Security upgrades are also as important and speed and bandwidth upgrades. Consequently, the WiFi Alliance has certified WPA3 as the default encryption for WiFi 6. 

WPA3 security is made to offer protection against offline password-guessing attacks. This is where an attacker captures data from your Wi-Fi stream, brings it back to a private computer, and guesses passwords over and over again until they find a match.

WPA3 will be compatible with devices that support WPA2, so your old devices won’t stop working because you got new ones.

ITS ROLLOUT WILL BE GRADUAL 

WIFI 6 rollout will be gradual. WIFI 6 routers and Access points are already available in the market but just the expensive ones. Qualcomm has already started supporting WIFI 6 on their high-end SoC like Snapdragon 855. It might take a while before it becomes mainstream.

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