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Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi 6

Camryn Smith

Sep 20, 2022 — 3 min read

Wi-Fi 6 offers faster speeds, better security, improved battery life and increased network efficiency.

In an ideal world, your Wi-Fi is doing everything it needs to do to make your browsing experience as seamless as possible. But, what if it could do more? That’s what Wi-Fi 6 promises, and there’s much more to it than just faster speeds.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Much like iPhones, Wi-Fi technology keeps evolving and improving. No, you didn’t miss the debut of Wi-Fi 1-5, the Wi-Fi alliance has only recently moved to this more standard method of naming. Wi-Fi 6 is technically called 802.11ax, in line with previous versions.

This generation is faster — Wi-Fi 6 maxes out at a whopping 9.6 Gbps compared to the 3.5 Gbps max speeds of Wi-Fi 5  — and assists your router with the many devices you and your family connect to it.

That means smartphones, TVs, laptops and desktops, tablets, light systems, thermostats and whatever else your heart desires.

In 2022, Parks Associates found the average amount of internet-connected devices per household was around 16, up from 13 in 2021, so this type of bandwidth is invaluable now that many are working and learning from home during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pro tip:

Wi-Fi generations used to only be classified as complex number schemes, like 802.11ax. To make these classifications easier for consumers to understand, the Wi-Fi Alliance decided to introduce simplified names and 802.11ax became the Wi-Fi 6 generation we know today.

Benefits of Wi-Fi 6

Improved security

Wi-Fi 6 uses the latest iteration of Wi-Fi security, WPA3. WPA3 stands for “Wi-Fi Protected Access 3” and is the third generation of this security certification standard. WPA3 essentially brings more password security to your Wi-Fi network and does so without impacting user experience. 

Longer battery life for your devices

New Wi-Fi 6 technology allows for more efficient communication between your router and device, which could result in longer battery life on some of your devices. The feature is called “Target Wake Time” and enables the ability for a device’s wake time to be scheduled. This means that theoretically, a device could be turned off for a long period of time, saving its battery life.

Low latency

Low latency is another perk of Wi-Fi 6. Latency is the amount of time it takes for data to get from one point to another. The lower the latency, the better. Wi-Fi 6 has lower latency than the previous Wi-Fi standard, so there are shorter load times and fewer connection issues. 

Higher bandwidth 

Wi-Fi 6 has a higher bandwidth than the previous standard, Wi-Fi 5. This means there are larger ‘lanes’ for wireless traffic, allowing for more devices to be transferring data at the same time, at a faster rate. This relieves network congestion for homes with many simultaneously connected devices. 

Devices compatible with Wi-Fi 6

If you want to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6, you need to make sure all of your devices are compatible with this Wi-Fi standard. 

You’ll need to get a Wi-Fi 6 capable router — this should not be too difficult as many manufacturers offer great options. 

You’ll then want to make sure your personal devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6. If they’re not, you won’t be able to benefit much from the features that make Wi-Fi 6 a worthwhile upgrade. You can tell if a device is compatible with Wi-Fi 6 by checking the product descriptions — most brands include this on their websites. 

How do I get Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 has already arrived in the form of a new technology standard and you can get it by purchasing any device that supports 802.11ax. iPhone models 11 and newer are compatible with Wi-Fi 6 as well as routers from popular brands like Netgear, Asus and Cisco. 

And now that the Wi-Fi 6 certification program is up and running, more devices will be verified for all the upgrades that make Wi-Fi 6 the upgrade that it is. Wi-Fi 6-certified devices will support the latest generation of WPA3 security, include 160 MHz channels to increase bandwidth, 1024 QAM to send more data, utilize multi-user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology to send and receive multiple signals at once and much more to make sure that Wi-Fi 6 is 40% faster than 5.

Camryn Smith

Written by:

Camryn Smith

Associate Writer

Camryn Smith is an Associate Writer with Allconnect.com. She specializes in writing about the broadband industry and helping consumers navigate complex internet service purchasing decisions…. Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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