Announced in October 2018, made official in September 2019. This is the Wi-Fi 6. But we are not necessarily talking about an unprecedented technology: the name is a simplification for the 802.11ax wireless network standard, which should gain a consistent market starting in 2020.
The new nomenclature also applies to current 802.11n and 802.11ac standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance, the entity responsible for the standardization of technology, did not rename the versions prior to these, but we can assume that, unofficially, they follow the same numbering logic. Watch:
- Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax
- Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac
- Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n
- Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (unofficial)
- Wi-Fi 2: 802.11a (unofficial)
- Wi-Fi 1: 802.11b (unofficial)
It is obvious that the intention of the Wi-Fi Alliance with the new nomenclature is to facilitate the recognition of versions. For a person with little knowledge of the subject who goes to a store to buy a router, for example, it is easy to understand that Wi-Fi 6 is more advanced than Wi-Fi 5 than if the comparison were made with 802.11ax versus 802.11ac.
The official announcement of Wi-Fi 6 means two things: that the version specifications have been finalized and that, from now on, manufacturers will be able to submit their network devices to the certification program Wi-Fi Certified 6 – these products may therefore display Wi-Fi 6 trademarks.
Technically, Wi-Fi 6 brings important advances. One of them is support for the OFDMA specification (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), which subdivides channels to decrease latency and improve network efficiency when traffic demands are high.
Another is support for MU-MIMO (Multi User MIMO). Basically, this technique allows the router to send data to several devices on the network at the same time instead of answering one by one, separately. We explain how MU-MIMO works here.
Also worth mentioning is support for 1024 QAM modulation (against the 256 QAM modulation of the now Wi-Fi 5). Explaining in a very succinct way, this technique allows a larger number of data to be transmitted per hertz. The effect of this is that networks based on Wi-Fi 6 can reach a theoretical speed of up to 9.6 Gb / s (compared to Wi-Fi 5’s 6.9 Gb / s).
These are the main advances. Others include operating mode in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies (Wi-Fi 5 works only at 5 GHz) and support for WPA3, which promises to make the network more secure (well, at least a little more).
We must wait until 2020 for the arrival of a significant number of devices based on Wi-Fi 6, but some of them are already here. Routers Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 and TP-Link Archer AX6000, for example, are compatible, although they were launched before Wi-Fi 6 certification.
The brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ support 802.11ax, so they are also compatible. The same goes for the newly launched iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.