In 2019, the Wi-Fi Alliance is expected to ratify the new 802.11ax or Wifi 6 standard that is now in the development phase. In addition to the change in the way we refer to devices and networks compatible with this new standard, Wifi 6 brings much interesting news in increasingly common situations where we have many devices that want to access the Internet at the same time.
We tell you what their technical characteristics, improvements and advantages of WiFi 6 are.
Why Wifi 6 and not WiFi 802.11ax?
Although it will be a while before we get used to it, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced a new denomination for the devices and networks compatible with each standard last October. The objective is clear: to facilitate the identification and differentiation between WiFi networks in a direct and unique way in the consumer market.
In this way, products and networks that are capable of operating under the 802.11ax standard will actually do so under WiFi 6. The previous standards, such as the current 802.11ac, collect other names, in the latter case Wifi 5. This will happen from now on with the standards of the Wi-Fi Alliance, although they will only receive simple designations type Wifi 6 the standards destined to the market of consumption.
The new WiFi 6 standard is compatible with previous protocols, so if you buy one of the new WiFi 6 or 802.11 ax routers, your current equipment can connect to it. However, in order to obtain the advantages and advances of the new WiFi 6, we need both the transmitter and the receiver to be compatible with WiFi 6.
More reach and coverage even in saturated spaces
As we see in the following table, WiFi 6 does not improve much the speed of data of original link that we have in the standard 802.11 ac. A stream goes from 433 Mbps in WiFi 5 to 600 Mbps in Wifi 6. Neither in the theoretical maximum data rate that we can achieve using 8 streams (160 MHz), there is a very large quantitative leap since WiFi 6 goes up to 10 Gbps when with Wifi 5 the most we could get was about 7 Gbps.
The advance achieved is thanks, in part, to its 1024-QAM modulation, which allows a greater amount of information to be sent per symbol in a given bandwidth than with previous WiFi protocols. This is especially interesting in scenarios of high-density connections to a WiFi network, which is where the new standard expects to increase by 4 times the average performance per user compared to the previous one.
The interest in the future WiFi 6 is therefore not the maximum speed per device but the overall improvement that users will experience in increasingly common situations and where we want to have many devices connected to the same WiFi network. Even at home. There will also be an improvement in latency, which will be much lower, and of course in security, being prepared to use WPA3.
How does the next WiFi 6 get it you have to look for it in different technologies that release or improves the 802.11 ax standard? Among them, the most relevant is OFDMA, MU-MIMO bidirectional or Color BSS.
The true value of WiFi 6 is in the increase in the efficiency and maintenance of connections even when the network is very congested.
Another important feature of the new WiFi 6 is that, unlike the WiFi 5 or 802.11 ac, the new standard can operate on both the frequency of 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz. The current WiFi 5 can do it too but in reality, it gets ” taking ” the 2.4 GHz band of the 802.11 a protocol.
Better management of several devices at the same time
At home, it is usual that we have connected to the WiFi network not only smartphones, consoles or televisions, but increasingly, different gadgets and devices that require and need network or Internet connections. From refrigerators to thermostats or loudspeakers with virtual assistants.
ODFMA is a technology that increases the amount of data that can be sent and received simultaneously with WiFi 6
The technology that will significantly improve these conditions of use is OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access). Thanks to it, WiFi 6 networks offer lower latency when there are many devices that want to access the router.
In a simple way, until now, when a router sent information to a device, it made use of the entire bandwidth of the channel, regardless of the type of data or the amount of information that needed to be transmitted. With OFDMA technology, these channels can be subdivided in turn to offer access to different clients or devices, thus achieving that desired lower latency and better efficiency of the WiFi network when there are many devices that want to use it.
Another technology such as MU-MIMO, already used in previous standards, becomes essential in WiFi 6 to achieve consistency in the flow of data to many users. Now it is also bidirectional, counting on Downlink and Uplink of multiple users. The upload mode of multiple users is exclusive of the new standard and did not exist in any of the previous ones.
In environments with the high density of devices and connections, reducing the interferences that make the efficiency of the data flow reduced has also been taken into account in the Wifi standard 6. For those situations, a very curious technique has been used: BSS coloration.
Its operation is very intuitive and the name is not accidental. What happens with this spatial reuse technique is that in a multi red location, different colors are assigned to each network so that their identification is easier. Thus, when the access points detect an 802.11ax frame, they check the color bit of the BSS and make decisions to avoid interference.
Less consumption for connected devices
The third pillar on which WiFi 6 is built is one of the most important since it affects the autonomy of the devices that are going to be connected to the wireless network. The Target Wake Time (TWT) technology is in charge of this improvement.
With WiFi 6, instead of having the devices connecting and shutting down every certain fixed time in search of transmissions from the access point, there is a negotiation to set in advance specific times to access the communication channel, knowing at all times the expected duration of the activities of the network.
With this operation, the devices can be kept in sleep mode (and save energy) until their fixed and negotiated time arrives.