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WiFi 6: Is the new WLAN standard worthwhile?

The reliability of Wireless Lan (WLAN) is becoming increasingly important. This is mainly due to the fact that more and more devices are WLAN-capable. With the new WLAN standard WiFi 6, many users now expect more stability and speed of the wireless connection. It is said to have eliminated some of its predecessor’s annoying teething troubles. So is it worth switching to WiFi 6? And which devices actually support the new standard? We would like to take a closer look at this in our tutorial.

WiFi 6: The new high-speed WLAN

In 2019 WiFi 6 was presented to the world public for the first time. The outcry and the joy were great. After all, everyone is happy about fast and reliable Internet. In the course of CES 2019, the first devices that work with the new standard were also shown directly. Especially the current corona crisis shows the importance of a well functioning WLAN. Besides working in the home office, resource-hungry streams and video chats also require stable Internet. However, a standard router hardly offers enough connections to accommodate all devices. A wireless connection is then unavoidable. Accordingly, WLAN is now part of the basic equipment of every household.

WiFi 6: The designations

The name alone already betrays that wireless networks have developed further and further over the years. However, this has not always been so transparent. For example, the WiFi standards in previous versions always had opaque names. Starting with 802.11b, the name ended in 802.11 ac. The latter is better known as WiFi 5, so the decision to number the standards comprehensibly was all the smarter. For this reason, the WLAN standards will from now on be marketed under the corresponding version numbers – e.g. WiFi 4, WiFi 5 and (brand-new) WiFi 6. The latter is also known as 802.11 ax.

WiFi was an insider tip at the beginning

In the beginning, WLAN networks were nothing more than a work relief for large companies. But even clever technology nerds have, over time, set up wireless networks within their own four walls. As with the Internet itself, the wireless network quickly began its triumphal march in society at large. The increasingly widespread radio standards certainly contributed to this. Of course, as time went by, more and more people became interested in an Internet without disturbing LAN cables. A legacy of the old days, when WLAN was still reserved for nerds and IT experts, is the name. The new designation WiFi 6 breaks with this trend and has the great advantage that even normal consumers can understand when compatibility exists and when it does not.

WiFi 6: Long development time

The new WLAN standard is by no means a spontaneous small upgrade from WiFi 5 – quite the contrary. The development of WiFi 6 took six years, and when a new standard is introduced, you need the right devices. In addition to the standard itself, the first compatible devices were presented at CES 2019. Many other manufacturers followed the example of their competitors. Currently, there are already a large number of products that harmonize with the WiFi 6 standard.

Some WiFi 6 devices are bursting with power – even on the outside

WiFi 6: Advantages of the new standard

Naturally, both consumers and technology companies are delighted with a new WLAN standard. While some will benefit from a more stable and faster Internet connection, others may launch new products. WiFi 6 naturally promises much higher speed than the previous standards. And the developers are not stacking their laurels in any way. They are talking about four times the speed of the WiFi 5 standard. As is so often the case, however, this is largely a matter of classic marketing.

Per device, one gets a performance increase of almost 40% – 50% in WLAN strength. This is still respectable, but can cause confusion. You only get four times the speed if you add the performance increase of several devices. This should not sound disappointed. More important than a speed boost is the connection stability anyway. A look at the statistics makes it clear why. In 2022, for example, almost 50 WiFi-enabled devices are expected to be used in an average German household of four people. WiFi 6 should ensure that many devices can connect to one and the same network at the same time.

WiFi 6: Learning from LTE

But how does WiFi 6 achieve this high speed boost over its predecessors? Here, the developers have focused on the advantages of LTE. They have extended and improved the so-called modulation in WiFi 6. Whereas only 8 bits were possible with the predecessors, WiFi 6 now has 10-bit modulation. Furthermore, WiFi 6 is now also capable of OFDMA. This allows an uncomplicated and stable access of many different devices at the same time.

WiFi 6: Higher antenna performance thanks to MU MIMO

Particularly in large apartment buildings, the own WLAN network can be disturbed. The consequences are interrupted connections and weaker overall network performance. In addition to OFDMA, WiFi 6 offers MU MIMO, another practical innovation that tackles this problem. MU MIMO stands for Multiple Input Multiple Output. As complicated as the name is, the benefit of the feature is practical. In the previous standards, only the router sent data to the end device. With the latest standard, data exchange takes place both between the router and the end device. As a result, both sending and receiving data from multiple devices is possible without problems. In addition, it provides a noticeable increase in the performance of the router antennas. The usual four channels of the router now become eight with WiFi 6.

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Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Berlin.
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