The latest WiFi standard was introduced in 2019: WiFi 6 (also known as 802.11ax). What 5G is to mobile internet, WiFi 6 is to fixed internet. The new variant contains a number of technical improvements. For example, WiFi 6 ensures that wireless networks are faster and this variant has a larger capacity than WiFi 5. In practice, this means that when several devices are connected at the same time, no speed is lost. In addition, WiFi 6 ensures a lower power consumption of devices, so that the battery lasts longer on the same charge. But there is also better security and WiFi coverage.
With WiFi 6, a speed of up to 9.6 Gbps can be achieved compared to 3.5 Gbps of the predecessor WiFi 5. However, this does not mean that the speed is actually higher. The speed is mainly determined by the connection to the internet. The new WiFi variant mainly takes steps in the smart operation of various devices in the network. This means that when several devices are connected at the same time, no speed is lost.
In addition to speed, WiFi 6 also ensures a lower power consumption of devices. Target Wake Time (TWT) allows devices to control how often they wake up from sleep mode and send and receive data. This ensures that devices are in sleep mode for longer and the battery life of, for example, Internet of Things devices: smart thermostats or smoke detectors significantly improves. In addition to the longer battery life, the connection to devices that are connected 24/7 is also optimized, because the network is less burdened unnecessarily.
The new wireless technology of WiFi 6 ensures better WiFi coverage. WiFi 6 works on a high and low frequency; the high frequency ensures higher speed at greater distances from the router. The low frequency can no longer be stopped by interference factors and with the new WiFi variant, it is better through thick walls and ceilings. This improves reception and coverage in several places.
WiFi 6 also offers better security by using WPA technology, the standard used to secure and encrypt Wi-Fi connections. The latest version of WPA, WPA3, should make it more difficult for malicious parties to try multiple passwords in a row. Simultaneous Authentication of Equals reduces the chance of someone guessing a password, even if it is a very weak password. This makes it more difficult for hackers to crack passwords because the security key is constantly changing.
Technical aspects of WiFi 6
The difference between WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 is big, in many ways. WiFi 6 has a number of technical improvements over WiFi 5. The main difference is the ability to efficiently operate multiple devices. This is made possible by the following two technologies: MU-MIMO and OFDMA.
MU-MIMO stands for ‘multi-user, multiple input, multiple output’. You can compare this with a fleet of delivery vans. With Wifi 6, you don’t have one delivery bus that keeps driving back and forth to deliver parcels of data, but eight.
The other technology, OFDMA, ensures that the bus does not have to go back to the distribution center (the router) all the time, but that if it still has space after the first delivery, it can go directly to a second address. This allows it to function much faster than WiFi 5. WiFi 6 uses MU-MIMO as standard to serve multiple users in a network simultaneously. WiFi 6 routers apply this technique for both uploading and downloading, making the connection of these routers a lot faster.