What is Wi-Fi 6 and how is it different from previous generations of wireless?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest generation of wireless connectivity technology, which includes a variety of new upgrade since Wi-Fi got its last major improvement back in 2014. The reason behind this update is due to the average number of devices we now have using our home Wi-Fi network. To illustrate this better, it is estimated that when Wi-Fi 5 first appeared, the average US household had about five devices that used Wi-Fi in it. Now, homes have nine Wi-Fi devices on average, and various firms have predicted we’ll hit 50 on average within several years.

The addition of all these extra devices creates problems for your Wi-Fi network as the router can only communicate effectively with a certain number of devices at once. With more gadgets connected, the overall network decreases in speed. So, while Wi-Fi 6 will ultimately make our tech lives better and faster, the main objective behind the launch is not about the increase in network to individual devices but the performance and reliability for the streaming capabilities of a multitude of devices at once. It’s Wi-Fi for a world crowded with mobile gadgets, IoT devices, and connected equipment and one where we need these gadgets to maintain a strong connection at peak times in our households.

Additionally, the arrival of Wi-Fi 6 also heralds in a greater range of Wi-Fi signal thanks to computational intelligence. This means devices used at the edge of Wi-Fi range (about a football field’s length away) will still have decent Wi-Fi connectivity, because the network will know to send a stronger signal to those edge devices.

What is important to note is that in 2018 Wi-Fi started getting its biggest security update in a decade, with a new protocol called WPA3. WPA3 makes it more difficult for hackers to crack passwords by continually guessing them, and it makes some data less useful even if hackers manage to obtain it. Current devices and routers can support WPA3, but it’s optional. For a Wi-Fi 6 device to receive certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance, WPA3 is required, so most Wi-Fi 6 devices are likely to include the stronger security once the certification program launches.

If this sounds good so far then there is one other thing that you will have to do in order to see the benefits from Wi-Fi 6 – go out and buy a router, which are significantly more expensive than current Wi-Fi 5 routers. This is because Wi-Fi generations rely on new hardware, not just software updates.

Luckily, you won’t have to update all your gadgets as even if your older device isn’t Wi-Fi 6 certified, they will still be able to pull a signal from Wi-Fi 6 routers. The experience just might not be optimized. However, in order to get the full benefits, you will need to buy new Wi-Fi 6 certified devices.

These are already in production  – the latest Samsung phones already state that they are Wi-Fi 6 compatible. When these devices are connected to a Wi-Fi 6 router, you will be able to tell as the number 4,5 or 6 will appear alongside where your Wi-Fi symbol usually is. So, if you think Wi-Fi 6 is for you, just remember if your router doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, you won’t see any benefits – no matter how many Wi-Fi 6 devices you bring home!

Will you be upgrading to Wi-Fi 6? Let us know in the comments below. And, if you found this post useful check out some of our other similar posts here: