May 24, 2021

Wifi 5 VS New Generation Wifi 6

As time goes by, technology evolves and more devices are able to connect to our networks. The way these devices connect to the networks has also changed. Many years ago when WiFi didn’t exist, we had to connect the devices by different types of cables and connectors to Hubs or Switches to have access to the network. WiFi changed it so we can join the network wirelessly, and has been revolutionizing the way we work, especially with the arrival of Wifi 5 and Wifi 6.

WiFi evolved from 2Mbps (802.11), enough to send emails and instant messaging for two or three computers at the same time to 10Gbps (802.11AX also known as WiFi 6) which is enough to send emails, watch HD or 4K videos, upload & download files & stream videos simultaneously on different computers.

Not only has bandwidth (amount of traffic that can travel through the channel at the same time) been increased during WiFi standard evolution, other aspects like security, amount of devices connected to the network at the same time (thanks to higher bandwidth), lower latency, among other benefits.

Before WiFi 6 was released, the latest technology was 802.11ac, also known as WiFi 5, capable of providing up to 6.8Gbps on the 5GHz band only. Which was a pretty big upgrade from the previous technology (802.11n provides up to 600 Mbps over the 2.4GHz & 5GHz band), performing at more than ten times the bandwidth.

wifi 5 vs wifi 6 characteristics and differences

If we are only taking bandwidth into consideration, the difference between WiFI 5 and WiFi 6 is not that big (not even twice the bandwidth), so the question is:

Is it worth it to try the New Wifi Generation? What are some of its advantages?

Let’s start by saying that WiFi 6 is backward compatible with WiFi 5, so if you have a WiFi 6 device, you can connect to networks under a previous design. Although in this case, it will not take advantage of the new features of the latest version. Both the router and the device need to be compatible with WiFi 6 to take advantage of all the new features.

Now lets talk about some advantages or features included in the Wifi 6 technology:

1) A faster network

As we mentioned before, bandwidth increases from 6.8Gbps to almost 10Gbps, being around 40% faster and Latency reduces by around 75%.

Wifi 6 Uses OFDMA, which divides the signals sent by the router to allow up to 30 devices to connect PER signal whereas before, only one device could connect to a signal.

It can also operate on both 2.4GHz & 5GHz band unlike the previous version, which only operated on the 5GHz band.

This speed increase comes in part thanks to 1024-QAM modulation (versus 256-QAM on Wi-Fi 5).

If we imagine that the Wi-Fi connection between the router and our PC or mobile is a tube through which the data travels, modulation would be the technique to compact the data in order to send more data through the same tube, without increasing the bandwidth (or tube diameter, in our example).

(Extracted from Xataka)

2) Multi-User MIMO

A WiFi 6 enabled router can transmit data simultaneously to many devices for both Upload and Download. WiFi 5 also had MIMO technology, so a WiFI 5 router could talk to several devices simultaneously but the devices weren’t able to respond at the same time, instead, they had to take turns.

Wireless access points near each other may be transmitting on the same channel. In this case, the radio listens and waits for a clear signal before replying. With Wi-Fi 6, you can set your wireless access points that are near to each other to have different Basic Service Set (BSS) “colors.”

This “color” is just a number between 0 and 7. If a device is checking whether the channel is all clear and listens in, it may notice a transmission with a weak signal and a different “color.”

It can then ignore this signal and transmit anyway without waiting, so this will improve performance in congested areas, and is also called “spatial frequency re-use.

(Extracted from How to Geek)

traditional routers, MU-MIMO Routers

3) Lower energy consumption

WiFi 6 introduces a new feature called “Target Wake Time” or TWT which is capable of reducing the power consumption by having the antenna go into “sleep mode” or “Power saving mode ” when it’s not transmitting or receiving data, extending the battery life of WiFi devices.

Faster speeds, better battery life for devices and more devices connected simultaneously are just the tip of the iceberg when talking about this new technology ‘s benefits and it’s definitely worth it to give it a try because it’ll bring more security, stability & scalability to your network.

Article written by: Giuseff Rivas.