Wi-Fi® is one of the most outstanding achievements in technology’s history, with continuous, exponential social and economic growth. Individuals, businesses, authorities, and global organizations depend on Wi-Fi every day. It has proved to help transform education, improve health care, and create new technologies, even during a pandemic. Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is the latest step in a journey of uninterrupted innovation. This standard adds efficiency, versatility, and scalability to support new and existing networks to build up speed and increase capacity.
Thanks to Wi-Fi 6, access points will support more customers in dense conditions. They will also provide a better experience for typical wireless LAN networks and enable a more predictable performance for advanced applications such as 4K or 8K video, high collaboration apps, and IoT.
The sixth generation of Wi-Fi is the most versatile and fastest yet. It is developed for greater capacity and speeds up to six times faster than the previous standard (802.11ac). These benefits are mainly due to the following characteristics:
Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)
This technology divides the existing channels of the 802.11 standards into smaller subchannels with a predefined number of subcarriers. The smallest subchannels are called Resource Units (RU), and they have a minimum size of 26 subcarriers. The Access Point decides how to choose the channel based on multiple users’ traffic needs, always assigning all available RUs in the uplink and downlink link. If only one user demands a channel, you can assign the entire channel to one user at a time, or you can partition it to serve multiple users simultaneously, achieving lower latency and greater efficiency of the network.
1024-QAM (Quadrature Stretch Modulation) Modulation Technology
The Wi-Fi 6 has a higher modulation scheme, going from 256-QAM to 1024-QAM, which translates into better performance and capacity greater than 25% with 10 bits per symbol. Each user will transmit simultaneously to different users; each transmission contains specific packages for its particular user.
Color-Coded Spatial Reuse
To enhance system-level performance and effective use of spectrum resources in dense deployment situations, the 802.11ax standard uses a spatial reuse technique. Wireless stations can identify overlapping Basic Service Sets (BSS) signals and make media containment and interference management decisions based on this information. Color coding gradually reduces interference by assigning colors for better identification. Each wireless station is color-coded, so that interference from other devices is not included in the connection. When the access point detects a connection, it checks the color code and decides.
MU-MIMO (Multi-User – Multiple Input Multiple Output)
It is a technology that allows increasing the channel capacity by simultaneously serving multiple devices, using the same frequency fragments. The AP calculates a channel matrix for each user and will simultaneously transmit to different users; each transmission includes specific packages for its particular user.
Energy-Saving with “Target Wake Time (TWT)”
An AP can negotiate with participating wireless devices to use the TWT function to define a specific time or set of hours and individual stations to access the medium. The devices and the AP exchange information, including an expected duration of an activity. In this way, the AP controls the contention and overlap between devices that need access to the medium. Devices with the 802.11ax standard can use TWT to reduce the sleep state until their TWT arrives. The impact of this functionality is reflected, for example, in saving energy on mobile devices.
Wi-Fi 6 enables enterprises and service providers to promote new and emerging applications on the same wireless LAN infrastructure while delivering a higher grade of service to older applications. This scenario introduces new business models and expanded Wi-Fi adoption.
What are Wi-Fi 6 Benefits?
WPA3™ is the next generation of Wi-Fi security. It adds new features to simplify Wi-Fi security, allow more strong authentication, deliver improved cryptographic strength for susceptible data markets, and maintain the resiliency of mission-critical networks.
Since Wi-Fi networks differ in usage and security requirements, WPA3 adds extra capabilities specifically designed for personal and enterprise networks. Users of WPA3-Personal get expanded protections from attempts at guessing passwords, while WPA3-Enterprise users can take advantage of higher security protocols for sensitive data networks.
Improvements in AR, Streaming, and IoT
As we have said before, Wi-Fi 6 will decisively benefit virtual and augmented reality, high-quality video transmission and IoT. These applications will take advantage of the new standard’s low latency and high speed to achieve greater development among the general public.
Society will be able to enjoy environments based on virtual or augmented reality with total and absolute comfort. Also, the transmission capacity of streaming video will grow considerably to the point that we will view an 8K movie without any cuts during its reproduction.
But IoT will enjoy the greatest impact, as Wi-Fi 6 will help build massive ecosystems of such a tool. More devices with different user profiles can be easily connected, thus significantly improving the comfort and habitability of homes.
Increased Wi-Fi Connectivity in Crowded Spaces
Everyone knows that the speed of Wi-Fi is lower the more devices are connected to the network. Such a circumstance can lead to a real problem in crowded places, such as airports, stadiums or malls.
The new Wi-Fi standard will solve this problem and help improve the overly congested 2.4 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6 will increase the download speed by four in highly congested environments, allowing users of a mobile device with this technology to have an excellent connection in locations where there are always many people.
Wi-Fi 6 vs. 5G?
What is the most important connectivity technology? Is it 5G? Is it WiFi6? The reality is that both technologies are complementary, and this is due to 5 main reasons:
Both technologies are designed and are being developed on the same basis: to allow significantly more data traffic, with new applications increasing the capacity of networks with the ability to connect many more devices and users.
The two will coexist and work better to enable different use cases to provide a better experience for consumers, mobile workers, and public and private organizations.
Wi-Fi 6 will be the preferred network for indoor spaces with significant improvements in speed, latency and higher density of connected devices.
On the other hand, 5G will be preferred in outdoor networks. Even when the use and business cases have not been tested, connected cars, drones and smart cities will be connected to 5G networks.
Wi-FI 6 and 5G will allow us to expand digitization possibilities across multiple industries and sectors, increasing their productivity.
In the case of Wi-Fi 6, some statistics demonstrate the complementarity with 5G. 51% of IP traffic in networks of all kinds globally begins or ends in a Wi-Fi network. By 2022, it is estimated that 71% of mobile traffic in 5G networks will be downloaded to Wi-Fi 6 networks, a concept better known as off-loading, which allows to decongest mobile networks, allow savings in data consumption and generate efficiency in speed and stability of the network connection.
Wi-Fi is already generating value in the global economy. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the economic value that this technology creates worldwide will rise from $ 2 trillion to $ 3.5 trillion in 2023.
Wi-Fi access points in the region will grow to 22.9 million by 2023. It will be useful to provide connectivity solutions for urban and suburban areas and effective aid for the closure of the digital gap.
By offering all the features mentioned above, Wi-Fi 6 is considered key to allow new solutions and applications to be developed based on Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
It also brings a smoother experience for service offerings that require high-definition streaming, such as 4K/8K.
In addition to the exponential increase in the Internet of Things and 5G applications and devices, Wi-Fi 6 is an ideal complement for developing these and other technologies.