Speed test: Why Wi-Fi 6 is better than its predecessor

February 25, 2021 2:30 AM

The latest Wi-Fi standard is much faster, efficient and is capable of powering a growing number of devices simultaneously

Marthesh Nagendra PortraitMarthesh Nagendra Portrait

By Marthesh Nagendra

Internet and internet-based devices play a significant role in our lives. With more demand for internet and internet products there has been advancement in the technological solutions available in the market. One such solution is Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax which is the latest version of 802.11 communication standard, the naming system assigns a number to each protocol. Higher Wi-Fi rating numbers correspond to newer devices, technology and better performance, for example, the IEEE 802.11 n, ac and ax names are out and Wi-Fi 4 through Wi-Fi 6 are in.

The current version of this Wi-Fi standard empowers faster Wi-Fi speed with reliable internet connections, so one can enjoy buffer-free streaming, faster downloads, and add more smart home devices without reducing the internet experience. It offers improved coverage and has the power and capacity to handle dozens of devices in the typical congested smart home.

The newest communication standard is slowly gaining an edge in the Wi-Fi market as many companies have started rolling out devices/hardware that have Wi-Fi 6. Besides this, various smartphone companies have started taking lead in the Wi-Fi 6 race by bringing out devices that support the latest Wi-Fi version. In short, the companies have geared up to bring the latest Wi-Fi standard into the markets and have started rolling out Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices or devices that support Wi-Fi 6. The latest Wi-Fi standard is set to change the course of your overall internet experience; it is much faster, efficient and is capable of powering a growing number of devices simultaneously.

AX routers better than AC routers
The new Wi-Fi 6 indicates a series of enhancements that will boost the performance while better accommodating the needs of a diverse group of devices, from tablets, phones and notebooks to phones and video cameras. To get the most out of these changes, you will need both Wi-Fi 6 routers and devices. The 802.11ac functions in the 5Ghz range only, while 802.11ax functions in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz ranges, thus creating more available channels. In addition to using up to eight spatial data streams, Wi-Fi 6 uses OFDMA to squeeze more data into the available spectrum compared with Wi-Fi 5’s (aka 802.11ac) Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). AX routers will also be smarter at moving data, thanks to a feature called Target Wake Time (TWT) which is aimed at battery-powered devices like thermostats and sensors. TWT can simultaneously extend the battery life of devices while making the network more efficient by connecting to the router only when it’s needed.

Future of Wi-Fi getting smarter
Wi-Fi technology isn’t sitting still and continues to evolve at a rapid pace; the latest development is the Wi-Fi 6e. The Wi-Fi 6E adds support for 6GHz wireless range which results in faster wireless speeds and lower latencies than its previous generations. The extra bandwidth has the power to speed up the data flow with a low latency of 1- or 2 millisecond that gamers should love.

The Wi-Fi 6e’s top throughput sticks to Wi-Fi 6’s 9.6Gbps throughput limit but you may actually get superior performance quality by spreading the data out of its three bands to reduce congestion which comes in handy for those whose networks are saturated with lots of data packets zipping back and forth. Although Wi-Fi 6 and 6E may be the latest trend, the world of internet and Wi-Fi technology is ever changing and soon we will see other variants of Wi-Fi. For example, Wi-Fi 7 is around the corner and could make the current spec look like a snail.

The writer is country manager India, ME & SAARC, Netgear

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