WiFi 6: why is it so important?
Since the advent of the WiFi standard, version 6 has undoubtedly been one of the most important developments in this wireless network, known as 802.11ax. Bandwidth, speed, performance, usage, WiFi 6 aims to change a lot of things … provided you have up-to-date hardware and deploy it correctly.
The evolutions of WiFi 6
Note that we actually have two WiFi 6: normal and extended, known as 6E. We will come back to that.
OFDMA, MU-MIMO, TWT: the acronyms to remember
WiFi 6 brings many particularly interesting developments:
- OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access): optimizes and improves bandwidth usage while reducing data packet flows. Data travels less time and thus frees up bandwidth.
- Range and speed of transmission with a frequency band of 2.4 GHz
- Theoretical speed of 10 Gb / s (vs. 6-7 Gb / s for WiFi 5)
To support more and more connected devices, WiFi 6 helps divide communication channels better, reducing the risk of a collapse in overall performance.
And above all, the new standard will make better use of Mu-MIMO (Multi User – Multiple Input and Multiple Output) already present in WiFi 5, but little emphasized. As a reminder, this technology allows information to be sent to several devices at the same time rather than to each device one after the other.
Another big novelty: the TWT (Target Wake Time). Under this name hides a mechanism to tell smartphones when to put WiFi on standby to preserve autonomy and especially not to use the battery unnecessarily. We must not forget that WiFi is one of the first energy-consuming features of a smartphone.
The other promises of WiFi 6: performance, reduced network latency and therefore better fluidity for content, in other wordsdata.
The WiFi 6E standard (E for Extended) Is an evolution of WiFi 6. It was not called WiFi7 because the evolution did not imply major changes such as those of WiFi 6 compared to WiFi 5. The main difference here is a higher frequency that can go up to 6 GHz. This new spectrum will make it possible to further improve the speeds, and to obtain an even lower latency, in particular for the connected devices closest to the router.
But only WiFi 6E compatible terminals and equipment will be able to use the 6 GHz frequency.
Infrastructure & equipment: be careful to be up to date
In any network infrastructure, hardware is essential to make the most of new standards and take advantage of performance. To exploit bandwidth, performance or reduced latency, you need routers, switches and terminals (smartphones, tablets, computers) compatible with the standard. If you deploy WiFi 6 computers and mobile devices without upgrading your wireless infrastructure, or vice versa, you lose interest.
The importance of a comprehensive audit of your network
Before any WiFi 6deployment, you must perform a complete audit of your network:
- Inventory and verification of all network hardware (access point, routers, switches, repeaters, internet box, etc.)
- If you use PoE, choose PoE+
- Check the quality of the cables: not all cables are suitable for WiFi 6
- Finely audit your network
Auditing allows you to understand how your network works and see if the locations of your routers and WiFi hotspots are correct. This mapping will have to be validated or optimized when switching to WiFi 6.
Check that the routers chosen to upgrade your network support the expected WiFi 6 features, such as OFDMA and Mu-MIMO. Of course, your network monitoring tools must support the advanced features of WiFi 6.
Switch to WiFi 6 or wait?
As we have seen, WiFi 6 brings a performance gain. But should we deploy this new network without further delay? If your wireless network is outdated or lacking in performance, the question arises. The investment will be more sustainable than migrating to the previous generation.
Several uses are particularly recommended for WiFi 6:
- Many simultaneous users
- Important use of voice and video: they are bandwidth consumers
- To equip a building with a wireless network, to replace the wired
- In an IoT context, SmartBuilding, edge computing architecture
Today, few terminals are WiFi 6 certified but this standard will quickly become the reference in the pc and smartphone world.
In all cases, get support from network and infrastructure experts. Wixalia experts are there to answer your questions and to thoroughly audit your network. Find out more about Wixalia’s networks and Wifi expertise.