The Wi-Fi Alliance has made a significant rebranding of the 802.11 Wi-Fi standards. 802.11 N will be known as Wi-Fi 4 and its successors AC and AX will be known as Wi-Fi 5 and 6.
It is not to ‘infinity and beyond’ but to Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6, and beyond – just like the seemingly infinite number of Rambo movies.
Strangely missing is 802.11 AD or WiGig – an orphaned standard that relies on a new 60GHz Wi-Fi band for multi-gigabit, low-latency connectivity. It seems that mainstream routers will skip that step and go to AX which remains backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 4 and 5.
Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance, said
For nearly two decades, Wi-Fi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi Alliance is excited to introduce Wi-Fi 6, and present a new naming scheme to help industry and Wi-Fi users easily understand the Wi-Fi generation supported by their device or connection.
There will still be a ‘speed’ rating using the combined router’s bandwidth, and we will see terms like Beam Forming, MIMO, MU-MIMO, Adaptive QoS, antenna numbers (8×8) and more. Routers can be certified with Wi-Fi Alliance as well for extra consumer confidence.
So, what is Wi-Fi 6
It is the next generation of Wi-Fi and its faster, better, more power efficient and designed to meet the needs of IoT and high traffic devices like 4K video streaming. It is also backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 4, and 5 in that is can fall back to single band 2.4GHz and dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
There are some new terms to come to terms with.
- Uplink and downlink orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) increases efficiency and lowers latency for high demand environments
- 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM) enables peak gigabit speeds for emerging, bandwidth-intensive use cases
- Improved medium access control (MAC) control signalling increases throughput and capacity while reducing latency
- Increased symbol durations make outdoor network operations more robust
- Premium routers may have onboard security from AV partners, automatic fall back to 4/5G and Bluetooth connectivity to enable streaming to multi-room devices.
- Mesh versions will come sometime after the normal versionS are released.
- Prices are likely to start at A$800 and go up from there. Manufacturers see lots of life left in Wi-Fi 5 AC routers so don’t panic thinking you need to upgrade.
What all this means
It can provide up to 11Gbits (That is Wi-Fi 6 11,000) and a dedicated 5Gbits to a device.
A 37% increase in data transmission rate but a 4x increase in throughput due to more efficient spectrum utilisation. Even if you use Wi-Fi 4 or 5 (AC), you will get improved throughput.
- D-Link will launch the AX11000 and an X6000 and X9000 series router
- ASUS will have the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 aimed at home and gaming with a 6,000 version as well
- NETGEAR will have Nighthawk X12 to X16 6,000 and faster
Whatever comes out GadgetGuy will independently test, explain features and benefits and advise readers of value and issues in the adoption the next generation Wi-Fi 6.