Wireless technology is a component that is being constantly built upon so we can make everything and anything wireless. There are several forms of wireless technology running at different frequencies and speeds. The earliest form of Wi-Fi is wireless B which was adopted in 1999 and in that same year wireless A came out the differences between the two versions were the speed and the gigahertz the data was transferred at. Eventually, we were introduced to wireless n and ac which were double the speed in terms of the difference. Finally, in 2019, we have wireless ax which is not only faster but has more frequencies.
The big change that has a few people talking is how we initially used letters such as n, g, a, ac, etc. which was referring to wireless standards, however, now we are using numbers. That’s right going forward Wi-Fi is adopting version numbers so it is easier to remember and tell if a router or device you are buying is on or supports the latest version.
Obviously, you can refer to the older Wi-Fi protocols as the same as you did before or you can use numerical numbers instead. For example:
· Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (1999)
· Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (1999)
· Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
· Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
· Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)
· Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (2019)
The benefit of this model is going to be instead of wondering which wireless version is better or newer by letters you can identify this by the greater wireless number. Which most if not all people will think is a clearer and easier way to identify wireless versions. Chances are if you look on the boxes of routers that have the new method it should show images like the one below to indicate which version of wireless technology the router supports.
This method the Wi-Fi Alliance is trying to push is something that is intended to go beyond hardware and hopefully adopted by the software aspects too. To explain, rather than just having it indicated on a router or the router’s box, the Wi-Fi Alliance wants this branding to show up when you connect or are browsing wireless networks on your phone, laptop, or even desktop. So instead of seeing the typical wireless icon, it would show a wireless icon as well as the version it supports. This way if you have multiple options you have the ability to choose the faster and more secure option.
With wireless 6 there are several things different that will definitely change the way we look at wireless connections. As usual, the latest version of Wi-Fi offers a much faster data transfer speed almost double the amount of Wi-Fi 5 (AC). If you are using a single device on your router you should see more than a 40% increase in performance and speed compared to the old Wi-Fi 5. On top of that Wi-Fi 6 performs more than four times better in dense environments. This means the average throughput per user will be far better regardless of congestion. Wi-Fi 6 also increases network efficiency and extends the battery life of the clients connected to the network. The new “target wake time” (TWT) feature means your devices can know exactly when to wake up and receive the next transmission or when to put it to sleep. This will conserve power by letting your wireless radios stay dormant when not in use. The way this version of wireless is more efficient and will be able to perform at a better rate even in congested areas is by having more channel frequencies and having the ability of subchannels. The term that is used for this is called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA).
Wi-Fi six has also improved on the antennas being able to receive and transmit to multiple devices at the same time which was not possible on Wi-Fi 5 and must be done one at a time either transmit or receive. One unique feature Wi-Fi 6 is going to have is a feature called Basic Service Set (BSS) which is the ability to have multiple access points near each other on the same channel auto reconfigure to a different colored channel. This is done if a device is checking where the channel is all clear and listens in. If it notices a weaker signal then it will automatically change to a different color to get a better connection. Which is how it will also help with congestion this method is called “spatial frequency re-use”.
At this current moment, there are several routers advertising Wi-Fi 6 here and there but there currently are not any clients that can support Wi-Fi 6. Just like every wireless technology both the receiver and the transmitter must support the technology for you to see any sort of benefits and at this current moment we do not see any clients that have adopted Wi-Fi 6. It will definitely happen it just has not yet. A recently released update was that Wi-Fi 6E is also something that is there which is a version of wireless technology that runs at a 6 gigahertz frequency instead of your typical 2.4 and 5.0. As we stated since the support for this version of wireless is still rolling out, we recommend holding off on investing in this. Not only will it get cheaper but the technology will get some time to have bugs and glitches resolved.