At long last, the latest and greatest generation of wireless networking is here: 802.11ax, or, as it’s more commonly referred, Wi-Fi 6. Boasting significant improvements over the current standard, 802.11ac (also known as Wi-Fi 5), this new edition promises advances in terms of speed, bandwidth congestion, and battery life.
With several individuals and businesses only recently having made the upgrade to Wi-Fi 5, it’s easy to see why so many are reluctant to make adjustments once again. In many cases, however, Wi-Fi 6 is well worth the effort. With a little assistance, it’s possible to implement this new generation with minimal hassle – and reap the rewards.
What Is Wi-Fi 6, and How Does it Work?
While best known for its significant speed boosts, Wi-Fi’s new generation involves many other developments that dramatically improve its performance. Together, its features can be expected to create a well-rounded experience for today’s users, who are more demanding than ever.
Above all else, this upgrade aims to improve networks in which several devices are simultaneously linked. This is an essential improvement now that the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken over. With Wi-Fi 5, a single device can operate at record speeds if unimpeded. However, in most cases, it will need to compete with the many gadgets that make up the modern smart home.
Features that set Wi-Fi 6 apart include:
- Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) Modulation – This digital transmission method makes it possible for dozens of clients to share channels at the same time. OFDMA modulation boosts capacity and reduces latency, thereby allowing for an impressive degree of efficiency.
- Target Wake Time (TWT) – A uniquely clever feature, TWT helps devices determine when they typically “wake up” and begin transmitting data. Not all gadgets need to be turned on throughout the day, but previous editions of Wi-Fi failed to account for this reality. With Wi-Fi 6, however, TWT is incorporated to ensure devices are only used when they’re required. This can extend battery life for everything from smartphones to video doorbells.
- Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Out (MU-MIMO) with Eight Streams – Additional streams allow for equitable bandwidth sharing, as data can be streamed simultaneously and not sequentially. Wi-Fi 5 was limited to a mere four streams, so Wi-Fi 6 represents a significant improvement.
Mesh Network Advantages and Disadvantages
The features highlighted above reveal the power of Wi-Fi 6. Unfortunately, the benefits of this can only be enjoyed if your home or business is properly equipped. A few routers are currently capable of handling Wi-Fi 6, but the current selection remains limited.
Another consideration is that success with this new generation requires access to Wi-Fi 6-enabled clients. The certification process can be extensive, with devices required to handle WPA3 encryption and hurdle a whole host of other barriers. This takes time, and while strict requirements will ultimately produce secure devices and networks, they may also extend the certification timeline for several promising technologies.
As you determine whether to upgrade, it’s worth considering if you were already due for network improvements. For example, if you were previously beginning to explore the possibility of implementing a mesh network, it may be worth your while to optimize it for Wi-Fi 6. First, however, you’ll want to understand the advantages and disadvantages of mesh Wi-Fi networks, especially as they pertain to the latest technological advancements.
The primary benefit of a mesh network for Wi-Fi 6? It’s adaptable. This is huge, as the rapid pace of change calls for easily adjustable technology. These networks are truly wireless, so they can be tweaked as needed. Like Wi-Fi 6, mesh devices are uniquely suited to the IoT because they allow nodes to communicate with one another and more effectively utilize finite resources. What’s more, mesh networks for Wi-Fi are known for supporting high demand and covering large areas without creating dead zones.
Before moving forward with mesh network installation, keep in mind that this approach holds a few notable downsides. It’s not always necessary in small homes, where a single conventional router can often provide a reasonably fast and reliable connection. Compatibility can also be an issue, especially if such networks are poorly planned or implemented. The initial investment may keep some people away – while long-term expenses tend to be reasonable, upfront costs could be significant in some situations.
How NerdsToGo Can Help You Level up Your Wi-Fi
Are you ready to move forward with Wi-Fi 6 or a mesh network? This upgrade could dramatically improve the connection at your home or for your business, but it can take some effort to initiate. There’s no need to worry about going it alone – our certified Nerds will guide you through every step of the setup process. We’re committed to remaining at the cutting-edge of modern technology.
The team at NerdsToGo offers a variety of work-from-home and study-from-home solutions to improve your productivity, as well as several IT services that benefit small businesses. Contact us today to learn how you can get started with much-needed improvements for your devices and network.