What Is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is changing the way we connect and consume information. The Wi-Fi 6 standard builds on the strengths of earlier Wi-Fi standards while improving efficiency, flexibility, and scalability. These enhancements provide new and existing networks with increased speed and capacity for next-generation applications.

Wi-Fi 6 couples the freedom and high speed of Gigabit Ethernet wireless with the reliability and predictability of licensed radio.

What are the benefits of Wi-Fi 6?

With Wi-Fi 6, organizations and service providers can support new and emerging applications on the same wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure while delivering a higher grade of service to older applications. This scenario sets the stage for new business models and increased Wi-Fi adoption.

Is Wi-Fi 6 different from 802.11ax?

No, the terms are synonymous. The Wi-Fi Alliance campaigned to coin the term "Wi-Fi 6" to refer to the IEEE 802.11ax standard. The term indicates that it is the sixth generation of Wi-Fi. The premise was to simplify the marketing message to help 802.11ax be better positioned relative to the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards used in cellular (such as 5G).

When was Wi-Fi 6 ratified?

The Wi-Fi Alliance fully ratified Wi-Fi 6 in 2020. Most recently, the Wi-Fi Alliance added Wi-Fi Certified 6E.

Elements of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 benefits

Wi-Fi 6 lets access points support more clients in dense environments and provides a better experience for users of typical wireless LAN networks. It also provides more-predictable performance for advanced applications such as 4K or 8K video, high-density, high-definition collaboration apps, all-wireless offices, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Wi-Fi 6 technology dimensions

  • Denser modulation using 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), enabling a speed burst of more than 35 percent
  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA)-based scheduling to reduce overhead and latency
  • Robust high-efficiency signaling for better operation at a significantly lower received signal strength indication (RSSI)
  • Better scheduling and longer device battery life with target wake time (TWT)

Wi-Fi 6 compatibility with 802.11ac

As with every other recent Wi-Fi advance, Wi-Fi 6 will be backward-compatible, building on existing technologies and making them more efficient.

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