i3 | July 24, 2019

Wi-Fi 6: Next-Gen Connectivity

by 
Murray Slovick

The smartphone revolution has triggered an insatiable appetite for mobile access to information. The GSM Association estimates there are more than 8.98 billion mobile connections worldwide, surpassing today’s world population of 7.69 billion according to U.N. figures.

Many devices rely on Wi-Fi connectivity, creating the need for a fast and secure wireless service that provides uninterrupted experiences for users. There also is a growing requirement to support 4K/8K video, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and IoT apps.

The Roll out of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 supports new applications on existing Wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure. From a connectivity perspective, Wi-Fi 6 offers the best online experience yet. Previously, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) referred to the latest generation Wi-Fi standard as 802.11ax. Wi-Fi 6 is part of a revised naming scheme developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance to make it simpler for consumers to recognize which of the IEEE 802.11 standards each Wi-Fi device supports. The new naming system identifies Wi-Fi generations by a numerical sequence which correspond to major advancements in Wi-Fi. That means 802.11ax is Wi-Fi 6, 802.11ac is now Wi-Fi 5, and 802.11n is Wi-Fi 4.

Wi-Fi devices may also depend on a user interface icon to display a Wi-Fi signal indicator and a numerical representation of the connection. When a device displays a signal indicator icon accompanied by the number 6, indicating a Wi-Fi 6 connection, users will know that the device is using the latest version of Wi-Fi.

Key Capabilities of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 brings multi-gigabit speeds four times as fast as previous versions, and performs well in dense environments including stadiums, concert halls and other public venues. Top improvements include:


  • Higher speed. Each new Wi-Fi standard improves speed, in this case 9.6 Gb/sec bursts, up from 3.5 Gb/sec on Wi-Fi 5 (both theoretical maximums — not realworld Wi-Fi use). However, most Wi-Fi 6 routers deliver up to four times better performance than Wi-Fi 5 devices, improving the user experience and the performance of bandwidth-hungry apps such as voice, video and collaborative activities.


  • Greater range. Wi-Fi 6 is still the access choice for indoor networks but also will allow you to watch Netflix in your garden or Skype a friend from your garage.


  • Fast response. The new Wi-Fi 6 transmission protocol with orthogonal frequency division multiple access technology reduces latency by 60 percent compared to Wi-Fi 5, ensuring immersive VR experiences.


  • More data. Multi-user multiple input, multiple output allows more data to be transferred at one time, enabling access points to handle more devices simultaneously, providing the capacity, coverage and performance required by users. It also lets Wi-Fi 6 devices schedule “check-ins” with the router, keeping connections strong as more devices are added to the network and demand increases for greater bandwidth from streaming video, audio and online gaming.


  • Enhanced battery life. Target wake time enables devices to determine when and how frequently they wake up to send or receive data, reducing the amount of time they need to keep their antennas powered on to transmit and search for signals. So, Wi-Fi 6 devices can spend more time in sleep mode, significantly improving battery life.


  • Robust high-efficiency signaling. This improves operation at significantly lower received signal strength indication levels, to measure how well your device can hear a signal from an access point or router.


Wi-Fi 6 is on a faster rollout out than 5G with migration taking place in phases. Samsung has introduced its new Galaxy S10 series, the world’s first smartphone platform operating on the Wi-Fi 6 standard. Also, vendors like ASUS, Cisco, D-Link, Huawei, Netgear and TP-Link already have Wi-Fi 6 access point merchandise available, showing strong market potential.