What is Wi-Fi 6?

Kimmy Jo By Kimmy Jo - updated July 4th, 2023
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The next generation of Wi-Fi is here and it goes by the name of Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax). Wi-Fi 6 promises more than just faster speeds. This new standard of Wi-Fi adds efficiency, flexibility, and scalability that allows new and existing networks increased speed and capacity. Faster Wi-Fi speeds with reliable connections mean you can enjoy buffer-free streaming, faster downloads, and add more smart home devices without slowing down your internet experience. You can expect maximum potential speeds of up to 40% higher with Wi-Fi 6 compared to Wi-Fi 5.

Reasons to consider Wi-Fi 6

Of course an obvious answer is simply for better Wi-Fi speeds and performance, but we’ve broken this down into more specific reasons to consider.

1. Keeps up with a busy multi-device household

Your household likely already has a number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi, and as a result, the performance might be suffering. There’s no doubt that over a short time-span, the average household will continue to connect more devices to their network where Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) technology will fall short on delivering the highest level of performance as this happens. Wi-Fi 6 uses orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFMDA), a key feature which increases overall network efficiency to allow several devices with various bandwidth requirements to connect to your Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi 6 is ideal for multi-device households
Wi-Fi 6 is ideal for multi-device households

With OFDMA, the router can deliver multiple data packets simultaneously, thereby reducing the amount of wait time to many more devices by splitting larger channels into smaller sub-channels. By intelligently stacking them together, OFDMA reduces the number of contention periods required to send the same amount of data packets, resulting in an efficient use of air-time, reduced latency, and increased bandwidth to add more devices to your network.

2. Provides faster real-world speeds and range

In each Wi-Fi standard, starting with 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4), the total throughput of a router’s Wi-Fi speed was a function of how many streams it employs, multiplied by the speed of the streams. Wi-Fi 6 increases the number of streams in a frequency band to a new high of up to 12 across 2.4 and 5 Ghz bands, whereas Wi-Fi 5 has a limit of 8 in a dual band configuration. This increase of streams (and an increase in stream speeds) provides higher connection speeds and your client devices will have more paths to communicate with your Wi-Fi router.

Aside from the increase in speed by adding more streams, the more spatial streams a router has, the more data it can send and receive from devices; with multiple streams, overall reliability and speed improving due to increased diversity. Essentially, more spatial streams means more available bandwidth and less congestion for all the devices in the Wi-Fi network.

Wi-Fi 6 streams
Wi-Fi 6 Streams

3. Designed for the Smart Home

Smart home devices and Internet of Things (IoT) applications are rapidly on the rise, and as a result, the average home will grow from an average of 10 Wi-Fi connected devices, to as many as 50 or more! Every light bulb, smart speaker, smart switch, door lock, appliance, security camera, or smart vacuum is another load on your network. Wi-Fi 6 has been designed to handle a high number of devices connected to your network without negatively impacting your Wi-Fi speed and performance.

Just looking at these pictures below, it's easy to spot a number of smart devices you might already find in someone's home.

Wi-Fi 6 is designed for the smart home
Wi-Fi 6 is designed for the smart home

4. Makes streaming 4K/8K UHD videos a breeze

If you have purchased or plan on purchasing a 4K/8K UHD Television or computer monitor, you’ll also need to consider whether your internet connection can support it. If you plan on streaming UHD video, you’ll need a consistent high-speed connection. If you’ve already got a bunch of users and devices loaded on your network, streaming high-definition video could prove to be a struggle. With a combination of ultra-fast processors, increased memory and the increased number of radio streams, Wi-Fi 6 routers are ready to take on the streaming of high-definition videos without stuttering or buffering.

Wi-Fi 6 for 4K/8K UHD Streaming
Wi-Fi 6 for 4K/8K UHD Streaming

5. Wi-Fi 6 clients are already here

There are a handful of Wi-Fi 6 products already on the market that will be able to reap the full benefits of a Wi-Fi 6 router. This started with devices like the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphones, the Apple iPad Pro, the latest iPhones and laptops, and more. The family of Wi-Fi 6 devices is growing rapidly as devices with support for Wi-Fi 6 are being released each year! If your devices are not Wi-Fi 6 compatible, you can upgrade them using an adapter. Check out some options below.

The future of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 was first released in 2019, making it still fairly new to the market. However, smart home devices and Internet of Things are proliferating, so the demand for improved Wi-Fi speed and performance is only going to increase as we move forward. With Wi-Fi 6, you’ll set yourself up with a network that’s ready for the devices of today and tomorrow.

Wi-Fi 6 for large homes

If you have a large home, thick walls and floors, or dead zones and weak signals around some parts of your home, then it's highly worth considering a Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Wi-Fi system! It doesn't matter how fast and efficient your Wi-Fi is, if the signal isn't reaching where it's needed, then it won't be any good there. A mesh Wi-Fi system can help eliminate weak spots and dead zones by blanketing your entire home with strong and steady Wi-Fi. Unlike traditional routers that broadcast signals from a single point, Mesh Wi-Fi systems have multiple satellites (aka nodes) that capture the main router’s signal and re-broadcasts it where you need it. The more satellites you add, the stronger and better your Wi-Fi becomes.

Check out some Wi-Fi 6 routers below or click here to browse our range of Wi-Fi 6 Mesh systems! 

This is a upgrade worth considering. You can check out the full range of Wi-Fi 6 routers here - there are so many great options to choose from!

Written By

Kimmy Jo

Waiting for the day I can download food.

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