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WiFi 6: how it differs from previous versions and which devices work with this technology

WiFi 6: how it differs from previous versions and which devices work with this technology

WiFi 6. (photo: FerVilela)
WiFi 6. (photo: FerVilela)

In the world day of Wifi TechMarkup brings an article where readers can learn What is it Wi-Fi 7 Y Wi-Fi 6, the latest connectivity standard Internet that has begun to be seen in more and more devices Y routersas well as the differences and advantages it has over its predecessors.

Wifi 6 was previously known as Wi-Fi 802.11ax, but recently Wifi Alliance decided to change the version numbering to a more readable method.

Why this Wifi has the number “6″

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One of the most confusing aspects of Wifi 6 is its name. After all, when something goes to version six, previous versions are said to exist. and they exist, although they have been renamed later, retroactively.

In October 2018, the Wifi Alliance (the highest certification body for Wifi connections) announced that would change the nomenclature of Wi-Fi connections. The next version, previously known as Wifi 802.11ax, was renamed Wi-Fi 6 and the previous versions would also have a new name: Wi-Fi 5 Y Wi-Fi 4.

The entity has not officially called Wifi 1, Wifi 2 and Wifi 3, maybe because they are too old, even though the Wifi standard has six main versions.

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Wifi 4, Wifi 5 and Wifi 6. (photo: See How It's Done)
Wifi 4, Wifi 5 and Wifi 6. (photo: See How It’s Done)

What is Wi-Fi 6

It has been seen that Wifi 6 was previously known as Wifi 802.11ax, but how exactly does it work? Same as Wifi AC (now called Wifi 5).

This is a wireless transmission standard developed by the IEEE Standards Association, which helps improve speed and stability when many devices are connected and economical power compared to previous versions.

Wi-Fi 6 is a backwards compatibility standard, so devices with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity can connect to earlier versions of networks, although in this case the device will not take advantage of the new features of the latest version. To do this, it is essential that the router and the device, such as a smartphone or one tablets, are compatible with Wi-Fi 6.

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From all models of iPhone 11 forward, are examples of devices capable of connecting to a Wi-Fi 6 network, as long as they have a router that supports it.

They will have the capability, but not official Wi-Fi certification from the Alliance, as Apple hasn’t certified Wi-Fi on its iPhones in the past. The first cell phone to receive Wifi 6 certification was the Samsung GalaxyNote 10.

Wifi 6. (photo: TEC)
Wifi 6. (photo: TEC)

Advantages of Wi-Fi 6 over Wi-Fi 5

As for the advantages of WiFi 6 over its previous versions, there are mainly three points: higher performance, better performance when connecting multiple devices to the same network, and better energy efficiency. Each of them will be better explained below:

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1. Faster network

A common change in each new version of the Wi-Fi standard is the improvement in the theoretical maximum speed of data transmission.

Wifi 6 is no exception, jumping from Wifi 5’s theoretical 6.9 Gbps to 9.6Gbps Wi-Fi 6 Therefore, it is approximately a 40% faster than the previous version. For its part, latency is reduced by around 75%.

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This speed was increased in part by preparing 1024 QAM (compared to 256QAM in Wifi 5). Using the imagination, that the Wifi connection between a router and the PC or mobile device is a pipe through which the data travels, then the users could send more data through the same pipe without increasing bandwidth. (or the diameter of the pipe, in the example).

Wi-Fi 6. (photo: Alliance)
Wi-Fi 6. (photo: Alliance)

2. Better prepared for multiple devices

It is a fact that more and more devices are connected to the Internet (mobile phones, tablets, televisions, consolesetc.) and Wifi 6 has different improvements focused on improving performance and reducing interference in this type of situation.

To achieve better performance when a large number of Wi-Fi devices are connected to the same network, Wi-Fi 6 has three enhancements called:

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– OFDMA: allows you to subdivide channels to give access to different users and devices. In practice, this means a lower latency and efficiency in Wi-Fi networks when more devices are connected.

– BSS coloring: it is less susceptible to interference that Wifi 5 and earlier versions could have.

– MU-MIMO: a Wifi 6 router can send and receive data to multiple devices at the same time faster, instead of having to go one by one in a queue.

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With MU-MIMO, instead of going one by one, the router connects to multiple devices at once.  (photo: Next-Gen AC)
With MU-MIMO, instead of going one by one, the router connects to multiple devices at once. (photo: Next-Gen AC)

3. Lower energy consumption

Lastly, it avoids a massive waste of energy. Many devices that connect to Wi-Fi networks, such as laptops or cell phones, have batteries, and Wi-Fi 6 promises better energy efficiency by including the technology Target Wake Time (TWT).

Target Wake Time.  (photo: FS Community)
Target Wake Time. (photo: FS Community)

Without TWT, devices connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot will have to connect to this hotspot from time to time for new transmissions, but with TWT on Wi-Fi 6 expected uptimes are negotiated in advance.

Thus, a device can be put into power saving mode until you connect to receive new data. This means that a Wi-Fi 6 device can reduce power consumption by entering power saving mode until the time specified in its TWT is reached.

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