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Wi-Fi 6 makes huge leaps in speed, connectivity, and security

Wi-Fi 6 makes huge leaps in speed, connectivity, and security

Wi-Fi technology keeps getting better. Each generation of Wi-Fi brings faster data speeds, lower latency, and better user experiences.

Enter Wi-Fi 6. Designed for today’s ultra-connected world. Capable of tremendous performance improvement across an entire network.

Intel calls it "the biggest Wi-Fi advancement for business use in 20 years." IDC even named Wi-Fi 6 in a list of 10 key tech trends driving the consumer technology market in 2022.

So, what is it and what makes it so great?

What is Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)? What about Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of Wi-Fi network protocol, available now for home or business.

Also called "high-efficiency Wi-Fi," Wi-Fi 6 builds upon previous standards, but offers faster speeds, less bandwidth congestion, and better support for dense networks with lots of devices.

  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is an IEEE standard for wireless local-area networks (WLANs). It is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac).

  • Wi-Fi 6E is a newer extension of Wi-Fi 6. The E stands for “extension,” because Wi-Fi 6E can use up to 14 additional 80 MHz channels, or seven additional 160 MHz channels in 6 GHz.

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced the new standard in 2018 and certified it in 2020, aiming to "increase spectrum efficiency and improve performance for dense environments."

Old Name New Name Max Speed  Bands Introduced
802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 9.6Gbps 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2018/2020
802.11ac Wi-Fi 5 3.46Gbps 5GHz 2013
802.11n Wi-Fi 4 600Mbps 2.4GHz and 5GHz 2009

At the same time, the alliance retroactively renamed its previous standards, swapping the old numbering system for user-friendly generation numbers instead. Wi-Fi 7, already in development, will follow the same scheme.

New Wi-Fi 6 Features and Benefits 

1. Support for smart home devices and high-density networks

We live in a world where anything can be connected to Wi-Fi. From phones and laptops, to printers and smart speakers. Even refrigerators!

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Wi-Fi 6 does a better job of communicating with all those devices that need data simultaneously. 

New technologies like Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), traffic prioritization, and beamforming create more efficient communication across the network, and allow more devices to connect at the same time, says Intel.

This helps prioritize bandwidth across devices, so you can enjoy fast connections on your smartphone, corporate computer, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and more.

2. Ridiculously fast connections

Faster is better, and that's where Wi-Fi 6 really shines. Wi-Fi 6 could potentially reach throughput speeds of 9.6 Gbps. That's nearly 3x faster than Wi-Fi 5, and a monumental leap from Wi-Fi 4's max of 600Mbps! 

A few caveats: these speeds are theoretical maximums based on ideal conditions. You're also likely to see faster speeds across the entire network versus an individual device. 

3. Better battery life

A new battery-saving feature called target wake time (TWT) lets devices and routers schedule communications for specific times.

Rather than keeping their antennae on to wait for signals, TWT lets devices stay off until you want to wake them—saving energy when not actively needed. This feature is especially useful for extending device battery life on networks with lots of IoT or smart home devices.

4. Built-in security framework

All new Wi-Fi 6 and 6E devices have to use WPA3, a new series of security protocols designed to safeguard your Wi-Fi traffic. 

WPA3 enhances Wi-Fi with more secure password encryption, enhanced protection against brute-force attacks, and advanced security for enterprise environments.

Creating a Wi-Fi 6 Transition Plan

With growing demand, new Wi-Fi 6 routers and compatible phones, laptops, and other gadgets are progressively taking over. More than 2.3 billion Wi-Fi 6 devices and 350 million Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to enter the market this year alone.wifi6 white bg

Enterprises and product vendors are driving the transition right now, the Wi Fi Alliance says.

"With growing demand for Wi-Fi 6...and a supply chain coming back into balance after the pandemic, the technologies are poised for accelerated product adoption", says the alliance.

For enterprises preparing to make the switch, our networking experts recommend a full evaluation of your wireless network design, as well as a review of your business needs and goals.

Those that plan ahead—and transition early—will save time, money, and friction in the process.

Schedule a Wi-Fi 6 Readiness Assessment with Compucom

Whether your employees are in the office or connected from afar, we can transform your legacy wireless infrastructure into a high-performance network.

Compucom has the technology, experience, and expertise to support and redefine your digital workplace. We deliver end-to-end technology and infrastructure services designed to create a frictionless employee experience.

Book a meeting to learn about our comprehensive Wi-Fi Readiness Assessment!