Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest wireless protocol standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance.
|Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)||Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
|5 GHz||2.4 / 5 / 6 GHz|
|MU-MIMO (down only)||MU-MIMO (up & down)|
|–||Trigger-based Random Access|
|–||Spatial frequency reuse|
|Single NAV||Dual NAV|
|–||Target Wake Time|
|Static fragmentation||Dynamic fragmentation|
|Guard interval 0.4 µs or 0.8 µs||Guard interval 0.8 µs, 1.6 µs, 3.2 µs|
|Symbol duration 3.2 µs||Symbol duration 12.8 µs|
Why is Wi-F 6 Better?
There are several technical improvements over Wi-Fi 5.
Most notable is the bump up in data transfer speeds, especially when you have multiple devices on your Wi-Fi network.
Total throughput speeds are 4 x that what you’d get on Wi-Fi 5 when you have lots of devices accessing your network.
The nominal data rate, per device, is at most 37% faster. Latency is also down 75%.
The second is its ability to deal with other neighboring networks. Expect to have fewer issues in network congested places.
Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E
Wi-Fi 6E is not a new version, it’s the name given to devices that uses the 6 GHz band.
The higher the frequency band (2.4, 5, 6 GHz) the larger the data size can be transferred.
The downside to using a higher frequency is that the range is reduced.
So the 6 GHz band is best suited for close-range connections. The best results will be with devices in the same room as the Wi-Fi router.
Is it worth it?
Maybe. If your router is several years old, then yes.
Even if don’t have devices that are Wi-Fi 6 compatible, you may still benefit from the better capabilities.
Also, new devices (laptops, tablets, phones) that support Wi-Fi 6 are becoming more common.
Prices are coming down on Wi-Fi 6 routers and access points.
Summary of Wi-Fi Specifications
|Wi-Fi Alliance||IEEE 802 family||Release date||Frequency (GHz)||Max MIMO Streams||Stream data rates (Mbit/s)||Indoor Range|
|Wi-Fi 1||802.11b||Sep 1999||2.4||N/A||1, 2||35 m (115 ft)|
|Wi-Fi 2||802.11a||Sep 1999||5||N/A||1, 2, 5.5, 11||35 m (115 ft)|
|Wi-Fi 3||802.11g||Jun 2003||2.4||N/A||6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54||38 m (125 ft)|
|Wi-Fi 4||802.11n||Oct 2009||2.4/5||4||288.8, 600||70 m (230 ft)|
|Wi-Fi 5||802.11ac||Dec 2013||5||8||346.8, 800, 1733.2, 3466.8||35 m (115 ft)|
|Wi-Fi 6||802.11ax||Feb 2021||2.4/5/6||8||1147, 2294, 4804, 9608||30 m (98 ft)|
If you’ve been having Wi-Fi performance issues and/or your router is a few years old, it’s probably time for you to upgrade.
Wi-Fi has come a long way and has become the standard in network connectivity.
It’s never going to be as fast as wired Ethernet but is now more stable than ever.