Leave a comment

Wi-Fi 6 is finally here - what is it all about?

Wi-Fi 6 is finally here - what is it all about?

With our ever-increasing data needs for bandwidth hogging content like 4K streaming videos, games and video conferencing apps, it is important that our Wi-Fi networks will be able to keep up with growing consumer demands. Not only does the next Wi-Fi standard has to be faster, it has to be more secure and power efficient, too.

Related: Do you have crappy Wi-Fi at home? We've got 10 ways you can fix it right now.

And finally, the next generation of Wi-Fi, now known as Wi-Fi 6, is rolling out. Formerly labeled as 802.11ax, WI-Fi 6 will bring along its latest tech bag of tricks and will deliver faster speeds, better device management, longer battery life and stronger security.

What makes Wi-Fi 6 better?

As usual with any generational upgrade, Wi-Fi 6 will support faster speeds than its predecessor Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac). In fact, it will be around four to 10 times faster due to the utilization of a wider band and multiple channels.

With its support for something called "bi-directional multiple input/multiple output" (MIMO) streams, a Wi-Fi 6 router can achieve a theoretical total output of 9 to 16 Gbps. With this capacity, it can easily deliver 1 Gbps speeds to compatible gadgets with ease.

Another advantage of Wi-Fi 6 over older Wi-Fi standards is its capability for radio frequency division and reuse. This means it can divide a channel into smaller sub-channels, resulting in less congestion and interference. With this ability, Wi-Fi 6 routers can communicate with and handle more gadgets all at once.

With these advancements, expect Wi-Fi 6 gadgets to have better battery life too since data is delivered more efficiently with less data waste.

Another Wi-Fi 6 feature that can help conserve battery life is something called "target wake time." Basically, this allows a Wi-Fi 6 router to tell clients' Wi-Fi radios when to sleep and when to be active.

Wi-Fi Alliance naming conventions

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit body that defines and promotes the standards of Wi-Fi technology, said that Wi-Fi standards will adopt version numbers instead of confusing numerical names.

Instead of 802.11b (the first Wi-Fi standard implemented in 1999), it will be called Wi-Fi 1. The latest standard, 802.11ac, will be called Wi-Fi 5 because, of course, it's the fifth version of Wi-Fi. And 802.11ac's successor (802.11ax) will be called WI-Fi 6, so on and so forth ... you get the drift.

The Wi-Fi Alliance said that hardware companies will be adopting this naming change in the near future and will retroactively apply the names to older standards, too.

Note: Don't confuse 802.12 Wi-Fi Standards with Wi-Fi Security Protocols like WPA2 and the upcoming WPA3. The former mostly deals with data transfer rates/wireless frequencies while the latter is for encryption and data protection. With that said, most Wi-Fi 6 routers will likely support WPA3 out of the box since it is required for certification,

This does make a lot of sense especially for average consumers who are not into the nitty-gritty specs of Wi-Fi standards. Even better, the latest versions are backward compatible so a higher Wi-Fi version router will always be compatible with lower-version gadgets, too. This means that the higher the Wi-Fi version a router has, the better it is and the more likely it will work with all of your gadgets.

Here are the naming changes:

Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (1999)
Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (1999)
Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (2019)

These naming changes will even apply to software. For example, when you connect to your phone or laptop to a Wi-Fi network, your gadget will tell you what Wi-Fi versions are available. With these indicators in place, you will always know which connection is better for your device.

What does Wi-Fi 6 mean for you?

Nothing, really. Although gadgets that support Wi-Fi 6 are rolling out (the new Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones, for example), your existing gadgets will work just fine. The rollout of Wi-Fi 6 doesn't mean your older routers and gadgets will stop working. As usual, Wi-Fi 6 (and consequently, WPA3) routers will be backward compatible with older Wi-Fi standards for a long time.

The transition may be slow to avoid confusion, but when Wi-Fi 6-labeled gadgets start gracing store shelves, it will become the de facto standard for all newer gadgets in the coming years.

Eventually though (probably by late 2019), Wi-Fi 6 will be required for gadgets to be Wi-Fi certified. If you're shopping around for a new router, look for the "Wi-Fi 6 certified" sticker if you want to future-proof it.

In other news, hackers find security flaws in 5 popular password managers. Are you safe?

With all the passwords we have to maintain, our brains can sometimes feel inundated with the complex string of letters, numbers and symbols. That's why so many people turn to password managers to help them. But, according to a new report, many of these password managers are flawed and can easily be hacked.

Click or tap to see if your password manager can be hacked.

Next Story
Study finds the Flat Earth movement arose from YouTube
Previous Happening Now

Study finds the Flat Earth movement arose from YouTube

Grab your photos from Facebook before they disappear forever
Next Happening Now

Grab your photos from Facebook before they disappear forever

View Comments ()