WiFi 7 is estimated to come out in 2024 but WiFi 6 is here now!
With the holidays coming up soon new phone season will be upon us as various companies scramble for your hard-earned dollars. Phones that are coming out this year include items like multiple screens, multiple camera lenses, and support for WiFi6.
What is WiFi6?
Wifi 6 is the new wifi standard also known as 802.11ax, it will still do the same basic thing and connect you to the internet.
In 1997 when WiFi was introduced it was called 802.11 as introduced by the IEEE (Institue of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
For easier consumer recognition, the former standards are also being associated with easier names retroactively. Before you would see products often with tech specs that showed "Support for Wifi 802.11 A/B/G meaning it worked on what will now be known as WiFi 1, 2, or 3 but not 4 or 5.
WiFi 1: 802.11b
WiF 2: 802.11a
WiFi 3: 802.11g
WiFi 4: 802.11n
WiFi 5: 802.11ac
WiFi 6: 802.11ax
WiFi 7?: 802.11be (This has not been adopted officially as WiFi 7 yet, but most likely will be in keeping with trends)
Benefits of WiFi 6
WiFi 6 is predicted to bring faster WiFi speeds at about a 30% increase over the current technology (WiFi 5) with potential download speeds of 9.6Gb per second in ideal conditions. This is ideal for emerging technologies such as cloud-based gaming and streaming 4k video. It is important to note these are theoretical maximums in ideal conditions. It is unlikely you will reach that speed in the real-world of wifi use. The typical download speed in the US is 72 Mbps (.72 Gbps), or just less than 1 percent of the theoretical maximum speed.
To achieve this the WiFi 6 router increased the number of bits that it can deliver in each transmission. It is important to note that you are still limited by the rate of your internet service provider so using this technology is only recommended if your ISP has fast enough speeds to make use of it as well.
Another improvement in WiFi 6 is also that it better shares device access to the internet simultaneously to cut down on latency. It uses the spatial differences between devices to tailor what info it receives. Smart devices are also being improved in a WiFi 6 environment. Smart devices that regularly ping your router will be put on a schedule for communication to ease congestion on the network.
WiFi 6 isn't about the highest speed
WiFi 6 is all about improving the network when a bunch of devices are connected.
This makes WiFi 6 great for places with lots of devices. Locations such as airports, stadiums, large venues, and those using WiFi 6 compatible devices will get the most out of these locations if upgraded to WiFi 6. Within the security integration field, WiFi 6 will allow for higher quality cameras to be used on segregated WiFi networks for the camera systems we deploy that require wireless technology. When WiFi 5 first came out most homes had about 5 wireless devices in them. Now the average home has an estimated 9 wireless devices. My home of two and a dog has 13 wireless devices in it; 2 Cell Phones, 2 Laptops, 2 Smart TV's, 4 Alexa Devices, A wireless printer, 2 Nintendo switches. So a full family where everyone has a smartphone, this is potentially going to be even higher. Each device using your network takes a toll on the overall performance. This is why devices will sometimes drop off the wireless network. The device schedule check-in I mentioned above is what will help alleviate this congestion.
So really how fast is each device?
It's hard to say accurately. Starting it you will unlikely notice any difference as the speed difference between WiFi 5 and 6 will seem minuscule. The biggest benefit will come when multiple wireless devices are added onto your network where current networks may get overloaded. Personally, I have worked in security integration for 10 years and I'd always shutter when someone requested their camera systems over wireless. Often the network infrastructure just was not good enough for the cameras they want. If you have cameras that drop out that are over a wireless bridge, this is almost 100% your issue. Too much data congesting the network at the wireless point and they can't communicate properly. Hopefully, with WiFi 6 expanding into devices this winter and becoming more mainstream, I will be able to successfully recommend wireless camera systems on a larger configuration. Saving bandwidth and the cost of running cables and making for easy installs where you only have to mount devices and provide power without potentially running a network or coax cable to a recording device of some type.
How do I get WiFi 6?
Unfortunately, your device won't just upgrade to WiFi 6. In order to use this tech, you will need to buy new devices. This includes phones, routers, wireless access points, and any other wireless device that isn't currently using the 802.11ax standard. On the product description, it should say WiFi 7 or 802.11ax. I would not recommend just running out and getting all new tech for the sole purpose of using WiFi 6 just yet though, it will take time for the devices and infrastructure to get there. Naturally, as you replace your devices, the new ones will start to come with WiFi 6 as the default. If you do want to replace one piece of equipment though, my recommendation is your Wireless Router. If you aren't using a WiFi 6 router, it doesn't matter how many devices you bring home since they won't be able to use the tech. You may possibly even see improvements on your network by connecting WiFi 5 devices to a WiFi 6 router because of how they handle devices differently.
WiFi 6 can help improve battery life
Most of our security devices run on some type of power connection but there may be the occasion to install a device using batteries of some type. One of the changes in how WiFi 6 operates with low power wifi devices but using the scheduled checkup option this can allow for wireless devices to keep their powered antennae down except during the specified times. As opposed to constantly broadcasting and waiting for replies.
WiFi 6 is more secure
Wifi 6 will be required to use the new WPA3 security format which is a protocol that makes it harder for hackers to crack passwords by using brute-force techniques and means some data is less useful even if they do manage to get in. Some current routers support WPA3 as an option but in Wi-Fi 6 in order for a product to receive certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance they must have WPA3 Security Protocols, though it may not be present in uncertified Wifi 6 devices.
For home users, unless you are paying for the highest of internet speeds and connecting a lot of devices, WiFi 5 (Formally known as 802.11ac) will serve you just fine for now. Unless you want to stream 4k video over wireless technology or have a ton of WiFi devices, then a WiFi 6 upgrade may be worth it. With the expectation of WiFi 7 in 2024, many businesses may opt to skip WiFi 6 upgrades for now if network congestion and quality cameras are not a big concern.