Wi-Fi is a constantly evolving technology, much like cellular networks. Every few years there’s a new innovation that makes it more efficient, and users often have to get on board with an upgrade (whether they like it or not).
The new technology in Wi-Fi 6 is also called 802.11ax, but what does that really mean? What exactly makes Wi-Fi 6 so special? Here’s a quick breakdown of the key features.
Wi-Fi 6 can boost your internet speeds by a lot. Routers with Wi-Fi 6 usually top out at speeds around 10 Gbps, whereas Wi-Fi 5 routers max out around 4 Gbps.
Wi-Fi 6 doesn’t do this by just having a bigger cable or a stronger signal. It uses a variety of advanced techniques to make your network more efficient, and therefore faster. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the ways it increases network speeds:
- Better traffic prioritization
- OFDMA technology that gives increased access points to web clients simultaneously
- Beamforming frequency management that makes more direct connections with devices
If those words don’t mean anything to you, don’t worry. The bottom line is that Wi-Fi 6 is a lot faster than older router technologies.
You may have a high-end Wi-Fi 5 router that allows you to connect to dozens of household devices, like TVs, computers, tablets, and phones. But the truth is, your Wi-Fi router can’t actually communicate with every device at once (even if they are technically connected).
Wi-Fi 5 routers can actually only send and receive data from four devices at once. So if you have more than that connected to your router, you may see some significant slowdowns in internet speeds.
Wi-Fi 6 routers use an updated version of “MU-MIMO,” which allows them to connect with up to eight different devices at once. This means you can have more consoles gaming and TVs streaming at once without overloading the network.
Also, Wi-Fi 6 routers will allow you to connect to two different frequencies: 2.4 GHz and 5 Ghz. The 5 GHz frequency is faster, but the 2.4 GHz frequency offers better range.
It’s not just speed. Wi-Fi 6 can actually increase the battery life of your phone, laptop, and other devices that connect to the internet. Who doesn’t want better battery life?
Connecting to a Wi-Fi network can drain your devices’ batteries because they are constantly going in and out of range, connecting and then reconnecting again and again. But Wi-Fi 6 uses a technology called “wake time targets” that lets your devices spend more time “resting” between individual data transmissions.
If you’re worried about your home security, then you should definitely be thinking about your Wi-Fi network. If someone can get onto your network without your permission (or knowledge) they can wreak all kinds of havoc.
Wi-Fi six routers are required to come with the latest security protocol for networks, called WPA3. This security protocol makes it harder for hackers to guess your password and also makes your data more secure even if someone does get into your network.