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An intro to WiFi 6

Published: June 19, 2020

From videos to gaming, our households are consuming more online content than ever before. So, what’s the next digital evolution towards faster and more dependable WiFi? The answer is “WiFi 6” (also known as AX WiFi or 802.11ax WiFi). It’s the new generation of wireless technology that will connect your devices to the internet with greater efficiency.

Generation of WiFi Technical name Year released
WiFi 6 802.11ax 2019
WiFi 5 802.11ac 2014
WiFi 4 802.11n 2009
WiFi 3 802.11g 2003
WiFi 2 802.11a 1999
WiFi 1 802.11b 1999

WiFi 6: The antidote for busy networks

The 2020 household

What does the modern household look like? A person plays recipe instructions on a Google assistant in the kitchen, while another is on a video chat to overseas family. Meanwhile another person is streaming music and playing online games in a bedroom on the second storey. At the same time wireless sensors, cameras and smart lights have alerted them that guests just arrived at the door for tonight’s dinner. Most people likely have a growing number of smart (or internet-connected) devices throughout their home, all competing to use data on the network. WiFi 6 is the answer to keeping all these internet-based activities in check.

A faster multitasker

The speed and range of your WiFi signal is important, and WiFi 6 does offer improvements in those areas, being at least 30 to 60 per cent faster than WiFi 5 – but the most impressive thing about WiFi 6 is how it helps routers handle the growing collection of connected devices in your house. The more devices you have, the more noticeable the upgrade will be. WiFi 6 offers increased stability when providing WiFi in dense environments.

Data bursts to save energy

WiFi 6 introduces better ways for your devices to occupy resources on a congested or busy network. Routers will be able to send bursts of data to several users and devices at once, all in the same broadcast. By packing more information into each signal sent, they help the devices operate more efficiently, using less power and even saving some battery life.

Target Wake Time

Smart devices and apps wake up constantly and request all kinds of information, such as status updates. WiFi 6 enables devices to negotiate how often they have these regular “check-ins” with the router. The communication is scheduled at strategic intervals using a new feature called “Target Wake Time”. It ensures those devices don’t collide with other incoming signal traffic, the connections stay strong and you minimise network congestion. Your connections will be less subject to WiFi conflicts and interference with other users – even your neighbours.

WiFi 6: It’s here, yet still to become mainstream

It’s early days for WiFi 6. This new, upgraded standard is expected to become commonplace within the next few years. Remember, WiFi 6 is made possible through new hardware, not by upgrading software or your internet service provider plan. Before you can take advantage of WiFi 6 you’ll need to buy a new router and new devices that have this technology already built-in. They’re just starting to arrive on the market, on some laptops, phones (for example, Samsung Galaxy S10, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max) and routers (TP-Link, Asus, Netgear and more).

Would you like us to assess your current WiFi setup and help you get the most from your internet connection? Get in touch with our experts for an in-home assessment.