Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is set out to release in December 2019. It is all set to get better and faster with this major upgrade, making digital lives much easier with it. It will bring in a wave of updated devices that have new wireless capabilities. These will contribute toward the next generation of networks with more speed and less congestion.
Read the latest research blog to find out what Wi-Fi 6 brings to the table and why you should care.
What is Wi-Fi 6?
Commonly referred as Wi-Fi 6, 802.11ax is also known as ‘high-efficiency wireless’. The naming standard is new and set by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The previous generations will now be known as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n).
The labeling will be visible as shown below:
Wi-Fi 6 will come with a single-user data rate which is going to be 37% faster than 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5). The more important aspect about this release is that the updated specifications will come with four times the throughput per user in crowded environments, and better power efficiency. This will mean an improved device battery life.
How Will Wi-Fi 6 Accomplish This?
There are a lot of changes that will be implemented in the 802.11ax to help with the improvements in the Wi-Fi 6. These include several multi-user technologies that have been borrowed from the cellular industry (MU-MIMO and OFDMA). These techniques will improve the capacity and performance greatly and enable multiple connections simultaneously, along with a more thorough use of spectrum.
What is MU-MIMO Technology?
MU-MIMO stands for multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output technology. It lets a Wi-Fi router to communicate more efficiently with multiple devices, all being used simultaneously.
This means that there is a decrease in the time it takes each device to wait for a signal, resulting in a dramatic increase in the speed of your network. It is a big help, especially considering that there are more than eight devices that are connected to the Wi-Fi simultaneously in the average household.
What is OFDMA?
OFDMA stands for Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access. It is an extension of the OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology. What OFDM does is it takes a radio frequency channel, for instance the 20 MHz channel that is popularly used in Wi-Fi, and sets out a number of sub-carriers, instead of using a single carrier-frequency that is generally modulated by AM, FM, or any other means.
Each sub-carrier is modulated simultaneously, but independently. The sub-carriers then form OFDM symbols that are separated in time by guard intervals. What a transmission means in OFDM is the total number of simultaneous symbols on several sub-carriers.
The receiver of the signal can track all the sub-carriers together as well. Then the receiver can demodulate the symbols independently, which is the ‘orthogonal’ aspect in OFDM. OFDM is thought to be better than other forms of modulation. This is because even though it does not intrinsically allow higher data rates, it is still less susceptible to fading within the channel, especially when there are cases where some frequencies are attenuated more than others by the natural environment.
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Key Benefits of Wi-Fi 6
With 802.11ax, users can now experience next generation Wi-Fi connectivity. It provides the capactity, coverage and performance that is needed by its users in any given environment, with other connected devices as big as stadiums or other public venues.
The key benefits of the Wi-Fi 6 upgrade include:
- Higher data rates
- Increased capacity for improved function
- High performance in environments with a lot of connected devices
- Improved power efficiency
Users will be able to stream even ultra-high definition films, download critical and data-heavy applications and use them and stay connected even in congested places with the Wi-Fi 6. This solves all the problems with existing Wi-Fi networks, making our data usage a smooth and flawless process.
Features of Wi-Fi 6
The Wi-Fi standard gives users faster speeds, which can go up to 40% higher than the normal Wi-Fi speed you get with Wi-Fi 5 for a single user. This is done through more efficient data encoding, resulting in higher throughput.
This new standard improves speeds on 2.4GHz networks, instead of 5GHz, which is the current industry standard. This shift was created earlier to create less interference, but 2.4GHz is still considered to be better at penetrating solid objects. Ideally there wouldn’t be as much interference for 2.4GHz, because old cordless telephones and wireless baby monitors have now been retired.
Some of the other key features that are available with Wi-Fi 6 are as follows:
Longer Battery Life
There is a new “target wake time” (TWT) feature available with 802.11ax. This means that all smartphones, laptops, and other Wi-Fi-enabled devices will last longer.
When the access point of the Wi-Fi is communicating with a device (like a smartphone), it will be able to tell the device exactly when to put its Wi-Fi radio to sleep as well as precisely when to wake it up so that it can receive the next transmission. This phenomenon will help devices save power because it means that the Wi-Fi radio will be able to spend more time in sleep mode, which results in a longer battery life.
This will also provide assistance with low-power “Internet of Things” devices which are connected using Wi-Fi.
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Improved Performance in Crowded Areas
When there are a lot of devices connected, the Wi-Fi tends to get bogged down, especially when you are in a crowded place. Finding good connectivity in a space with a lot of Wi-Fi enabled devices such as an airport or hotel is difficult, and your connection will most probably be a slow one.
The new Wi-Fi 6 uses many different technologies to solve this issue. It is apparently said that Wi-Fi 6 will improve the user’s average speed by at least four times in congested areas, even if there are a lot of connected devices. It does not have to be just a congested area, even your home where there are a lot of connected devices, your Wi-Fi will be a lot faster than before.
How Does it Do This?
OFDMA helps Wi-Fi 6 divide its one channel into many subchannels. Along with this, the MU-MIMO has been improved, which means the access point can now talk to multiple devices at once.
What About the Routers?
There were many products that were unveiled earlier in the year at the Consumer Electronics Show, also known as CES, which wrapped up on the 11th of January.
The only issue is that most of these products will not be available for public use or in stores till the second half of the year. The main reason for this is that there are no connected devices currently available which are compatible with the Wi-Fi6 standard.
There are a few handsets that are likely to be equipped with a WiFi 6 chip releasing this year. These include the upcoming 5G smartphones that run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processors. More handsets are likely to be unveiled later in February, at this year’s Mobile World Congress, held between the 25th and 28th February in Barcelona, Spain.
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This is what Rahul Patel, who is the senior vice president and general manager of connectivity and networking at Qualcomm Technologies, inc. has to say about the Wi-Fi 6 upgrade:
“Given the central role Wi-Fi plays in delivering connected experiences to hundreds of millions of people every day, and with next generation technologies like 802.11ax emerging, the Wi-Fi Alliance generational naming scheme for Wi-Fi is an intuitive and necessary approach to defining Wi-Fi’s value for our industry and consumers alike. We support this initiative as a global leader in Wi-Fi shipments and deployment of Wi-Fi 6, based on 802.11ax technology, along with customers like Ruckus, Huawei, NewH3C, KDDI Corporation/NEC Platforms, Charter Communications, KT Corp, and many more spanning enterprise, venue, home, mobile and computing segments.”