By: Bob Carmody
In an age where WiFi has become an essential business and education tool, companies and organizations need fast and reliable wireless access to stay connected, share ideas, and get the job done.
The Main Differences Between WiFi 5 & WiFi 6
WiFi 6, also called 802.11ax, is designed to make WiFi networks faster, more reliable, and more energy-efficient than ever before, all while comfortably supporting a larger number of devices.
The benefits of WiFi 6 include:
Up to 30% faster speeds than WiFi 5 (the current standard)
- Lower latency
- More simultaneously delivered data
- Improved power efficiency
WiFi 6 is able to offer these benefits because it improves on technologies while also introducing new technologies. WiFi 6 is the first iteration of 802.11 to rely on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which significantly improves on Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is used by WiFi 5.
WiFi 6 Reduces Lag & Eliminates Queueing
The main difference between OFDMA and OFDM is how this technology handles serving multiple connected devices. OFDM can only transmit traffic to a single device at a time, which can create a noticeable lag as user devices wait their turn for data. However, OFDMA can transmit to multiple devices simultaneously by splitting traffic into smaller packets. This eliminates queueing, speeding up service for all devices on the network.
WiFi 6 Allows More Devices to Connect Simultaneously
WiFi 6 also offers extended capabilities for Multi-User Multi-Input/Multi-Output (MU-MIMO). While MU-MIMO was previously only available for downstream connections, allowing a device to send data to multiple receivers at the same time, MU-MIMO now allows upstream connections do to this as well, allowing more simultaneous devices to connect to a single network.
Faster Data Rates & Longer Range
WiFi 6 also leverages beamforming, which is used to improve data rates and extends range by directing signals towards specific devices instead of broadcasting equally in all directions. While this capability was available on WiFi 5 using a standard configuration of 4 antennas, WiFi 6 improves upon this by doubling the number of antennas to 8, significantly extending WiFi range and offering noticeably faster data rates.
WiFi 6 Maximizes Spectral Efficiency, Increasing Throughput
WiFi 6 also uses quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), a highly developed modulation scheme frequently used in the communications industry to transmit data over radio frequencies. When it comes to wireless communications, QAM is a signal in which two carriers shift their phase by 90 degrees (a quarter out of phase) and vary the amplitude.
Plainly speaking, by shifting out of phase, systems can maximize spectral efficiency, increasing the throughput capabilities of wireless devices.
WiFi 6 Is Ideal for High-Density Environments
While the old WiFi 5 standard was limited to 256-QAM, WiFi 6 incorporates an extremely high optional modulation scheme (1024-WAM), offering a data rate increase of 25%.
This is critical, particularly in high-density environments. With 4K video streaming also becoming the norm, the ability to support higher throughput is vital for any business that needs to support a large number of connected devices on their network.
Why Should My Organization Upgrade to WiFi 6?
While you may be tempted to wait until your next planned upgrade or until the next generation becomes available to make the switch, the next generation of WiFi could be five or more years out.
Upgrading sooner rather than later allows you, your team, and your customers to enjoy faster, more reliable WiFi now, improving your team’s productivity and keeping customers happy.
Should I Wait for WiFi 6E?
The short answer is no. WiFi 6E isn’t currently available in WiFi access points or client devices, and likely won’t be for at least several more years. Also, even once WiFi 6E becomes available for consumer devices, most networking equipment won’t be able to support this new functionality right away.
What Makes WiFi 6E Different from WiFi 6?
WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are nearly identical. The only difference is that WiFi 6E hardware is able to tap into new, unlicensed blocks of the 6 GHz range, which WiFi 6 is unable to do.
Much like widening a road can ease congestion, this upgrade will allow more devices to access more radio bandwidth down the road, allowing more devices to comfortably connect without compromising connection quality or speed by spreading those connections out. While that functionality will be useful in the future, it isn’t worth holding out for if your network is currently struggling to support all of your devices.
Which Organizations Will Benefit Most from an Upgrade to WiFi 6?
While all modern organizations can benefit from the improved reliability, increased range, reduced latency, and faster speeds of WiFi 6, high-capacity and high-throughput businesses will benefit the most. Some examples of high-capacity and high-throughput environments include:
- Conference centers
- Lecture halls
- Convention centers
WiFi 6 is also an excellent choice for organizations that utilize a lot of cloud resources, high-definition video conferencing, and data transfer.
How WiFi Integrators for Innovation Can Help with Your WiFi 6 Transition
Transitioning your entire network to WiFi 6 may seem daunting, but the experts at WiFi Integrators for Innovation are here to help. We have been designing networks since 2011, and our team boasts more than 50 years of combined WiFi technology network design, engineering, and deployment experience. We have worked with all WiFi levels since 802.11 prime (WiFi 1) through to WiFi 6 and are skilled at the design, sales, configuration, staging, installation, validation, and troubleshooting of WiFi networks.
Not everyone is an IT expert, and that’s okay. Our friendly and experienced team is always here for you, every step of the way. We can offer support, help you troubleshoot issues, and answer any questions you may have.
We also offer managed IT services, allowing you and your team to focus on your core business and leave the IT in the hands of trusted experts. From installation to troubleshooting, our team has the skills and experience you need to keep everything humming along smoothly.
Our Trusted Partners
We know that our clients are relying on us to help them achieve their business goals and keep their IT running smoothly. That’s why we only partner with vendors and manufacturers that share our commitment to high-quality products, sound advice, and world-class customer service.
We’re in the business of making connections. We are here to help you select the best manufacturer model and design based on your unique needs. To provide you with multiple options so you can select the best tools for the job, we offer products from a variety of trusted partners, including:
WiFi 6 Partner Case Studies
For more information about WiFi 6 and WiFi 6 solutions currently available, please consider reading these case studies produced by some of our partners:
- Juniper-Mist: Boost Your ROI with a Robust Design for WiFi 6CommScope: WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E Enterprise Solutions
- Cambium Networks: Increased Streaming Content and New Devices Drive the Need for WiFi 6
WiFi 6 has the potential to transform how your team and your customers use WiFi, offering a faster, more reliable connection for everyone while preserving device battery levels in high-density environments. We’re proud to offer tailored solutions that are able to draw on technology from multiple vendors. This way, you know we are suggesting a product it is because we trust its manufacturer and know it is the right tool for the job.
For more information about WiFi 6, or to start planning your organization’s transition, please contact us today.