Wi-Fi 6 – The New Generation of Wi-Fi

Sep 08, 2020  by Katrina Kwok

wifi 6 the next generation of wifi

As users continue adding IoT devices into their home and office networks, there’s a continuous need for finding new ways to optimize device speeds and bandwidth to accommodate higher congestion on the network. Much like traffic congestion on a highway, the more devices connected to the network, the slower the throughput is going to be. WiFi 5 (or 802.11ac) was developed back in 2013 and while it was a great improvement at the time, the current needs for the world of IoT require more. 

WiFi 6 (or 802.11ax) was developed to replace both WiFi 5 (802.11ac) and WiFi 4 (802.11n), boasting faster throughput, four-times higher network efficiency, optimized capacity even in dense environments, and improves device battery life. See the table above for a brief comparison of the three. 

What makes WiFi 6 so much better? There are 5 main features to WiFi 6 that contribute to its greatness: 

1. OFDMA – Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access 

OFDMA optimizes and combines smaller data units within each transmission of data, allowing multiple clients to upload or download data in parallel. This enhances device efficiency and results in more efficient use of Wi-Fi subchannels. Compared to the OFDM access scheme used in WiFi 5 and 4, OFDMA is four times stronger.

OFDMA Wifi 6

Source: Mercku’s Wi-Fi: The Definitive Guide 

2. Target Wake Time (TWT) 

Prior to WiFi 6, devices connected to the WiFi network send radio signals non-stop in order to remain connected. The Target Wake Time feature allows the access point to smart-schedule different devices to “wake up” and send signals only when a network connection is needed, significantly reducing radio noise on the network and lower energy consumption. Ultimately, this means your device’s battery will last longer throughout the day!

target wake time wifi 6

Source: Mercku’s Wi-Fi: The Definitive Guide 

3. 1024-QAM – Quadrature Amplitude Modulation 

Wi-Fi 6 adds new data channels using 1024-QAM to provide a signal packed with more data and a wider 160 MHz channel. Back to the highway analogy, imagine being able to pack four times more people into a single vehicle, that’s how powerful it is! 

4. BSS Colouring 

With the BSS colouring feature, WiFi 6 reduces co-channel interference in high-density environments by colour-coding devices as well as the access points closest to them with the same colour. By doing this, end-user device power consumption is lowered because other coloured access points will ignore devices that don’t share the same colour.

bss coloring wifi 6

Source: Mercku’s Wi-Fi: The Definitive Guide 

5. DL/UL MU-MIMO – Download and Upload Multiple User Multiple-In-Multiple-Out 

With an added enhancement to support upload data, WiFi 6 also boasts a higher MU-MIMO capacity and allows the access point to simultaneously connect to multiple devices without any noticeable decrease in bandwidth quality.  

Currently, not all devices are WiFi 6 compatible, but more and more manufacturers are implementing this into their new devices to accommodate the growing need for speed. WiFi 6 routers are a future-proof solution with backwards compatibility for WiFi 5 and older devices. While it may be a few years before WiFi 6 adoption is widespread, we surely are making waves entering into a new era of WiFi. 

At Mercku, WiFi 6 has definitely been on our radar for a while now and we’re happy to finally say there are some exciting things on the way!

Click here to get a preview of our new generation of WiFi.


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