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It’s actually quite reasonable to see the title of this article and think ‘I never even knew there was a Wi-Fi 5!’
Unlike the highly publicized 3G, 4G and 5G, Wi-Fi’s generational legacy is rarely talked about. Perhaps it’s not so relevant to selling products to the average Joe, so companies aren’t pushing awareness as much, but if your work is dependent on IT infrastructure it’s an interesting tech development to learn more about.
So why are we hearing so much about Wi-Fi 6? Perhaps it’s the fact that it will bring in the initial capabilities to make the highly topical and trendy 'Internet of Things' a more certain reality. The IoT relies on having numerous devices connected to your Wi-Fi network at once, so a fast and reliable connection is imperative, especially if one device’s functionality depends on communicating with another.
This is just as important in your home as it is in an office, retail shop or warehouse. If technology is advancing in the way current trends are predicting, you should sit up and pay attention to Wi-Fi 6.
Previously people in the industry would refer to Wi-Fi by it’s more tech-literate version numbers, such as 802.11n, which is now coined as Wi-Fi 4.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has decided to rebrand Wi-Fi from its longer version names to simple numbers, so people with less tech jargon knowledge can easily see which Wi-Fi is newer, faster and more technologically advanced. You may even start seeing these numbers when you connect your laptop or smartphone to a network.
Originally the domain of just the IT crowd, Wi-Fi is now becoming a hugely important element in business development. Of course, Wi-Fi has always been relevant and essential, but now people are getting excited about it’s links to other new, emerging technologies.
The previous version of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 5 was released in 2014, making the current technology over five years old (quite old in terms of tech).
Let's take a look at some of the features of Wi-Fi 6, and why it'll be so much better for all of us:
That’s up to 10Gbps. To put that into perspective, you only need 25Mbps to stream a 4K Ultra movie comfortably. 10Gbps is 400 times quicker than 25Mbps.
Wi-Fi 6 has a 'Target Wake Time' feature, that means you won’t need to worry about active Wi-Fi searching on your device draining your battery. Wi-Fi 6 will communicate with its connected devices and let them know when to wake up to receive the next transmission.
We’ve all experienced it in the home - there’s a peak time after work when every device is connected to the wi-fi; gaming consoles, smart TVs, phones, thermostats, tablets and even your fridge nowadays. This increased traffic can cause your Wi-Fi to slow and lag with the strain on the network.
This should be much less of a worry with the next generation of Wi-Fi, Intel reports that an average users speed on a busy network should be up to 4x higher.
Obviously this is ideal for the Internet of Everything!
When Wi-Fi first came out it used the 2.4Ghz band, which is what you might consider crowded. Plenty of devices, from your bluetooth, to your electric garage door use 2.4Ghz, and the more devices you have on that frequency, the more interference you get on your connection.
Wi-Fi 4 brought in use of the 5Ghz band, and in 2020 it’s expected Wi-Fi will expand to the 6Ghz airspace. This new, wider spectrum will be less crowded by older devices, and offer a much more uninterrupted band.
So to lay the foundations for Wi-Fi 6, you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 router. Some routers already boast these capabilities, but now the Wi-Fi alliance is running a scheme which allows manufacturers to submit their tech to gain an official certified logo as proof of their ability, meaning we should start to see plenty on the market soon.
Current Wi-Fi 6 routers are quite expensive, and even if you can get a hold of one of the routers, you’ll need devices that are calibrated to work with it too. That said, technology is evolving fast, and sooner than you know it Wi-Fi 6 routers will be commonplace, and necessary for keeping up.
Newer models of smartphone are already supporting next generation Wi-Fi, and some of the newer computer processors. Prices are due to start falling rapidly as more and more devices consider Wi-Fi 6 the standard.
Do you want to futureproof your business? It’s time to start thinking about Wi-Fi 6.
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