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WiFi 6: What is it? Do We Need To Upgrade?

WiFi 6: What is it? Do We Need To Upgrade?

I feel the need. The need for speed. WiFi 6 speed…

Yes, as is customary, it’s time for a great big upgrade to our internet speeds, this time by new technology. If you’ve never heard of WiFi 6 before, or didn’t even know that WiFi itself had versioning, well then this article is for you. We’ll introduce you to the concept, its benefits over the previous WiFi standard, and how you can get in on the action – or if upgrading is actually necessary for your business. Let’s get started.

What is WiFi 6?

WiFi 6 is the new standard WiFi technology. Its full name is IEEE P802.11ax.

IEEE 802.11ax is the standard that comes after the major release WiFi 5 (IEEE 802.11ac), as well as the latest amendment to the IEEE 802.11 standard set, 802.11aq. That’s a lot of numbers and letters!

WiFi standards are continuously updated to produce better benefits to those on the network. 

The benefits

Speed

What this new version means to people who aren’t network engineers is speed. This is because the throughput of the technology is increased, achieved via a technology called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). 

For the average person on the ground, this means that WiFi speeds can increase 40% over previous standards, up to around 10Gbps.

Increased network capacity

You will be aware of the pitfalls of having too many high-performance devices on a WIFi network – for instance, if you and a few people in your home are on various devices at the same time streaming high definition video, it may be choppy.

WiFi 6 offers 4x better performance in device-dense environments. Now, this can be important for office networks, if you have many employee mobile devices and IoT devices in the area.

Extended battery life

WiFi 6 sucks less juice from devices than previous versions of the standard. This is great news for mobile devices.

Better performance in non-optimal environments

Attenuating WiFi is a problem – that’s the length of the reach in open spaces. So too is the signal in cluttered spaces – walls and objects make it trickier to get WiFi. The new version gives better performance in both of these difficult situations than its predecessors.

What do I need to use WiFi 6?

WiFi 6 isn’t something that will just automatically be available to you. You will need to purchase WiFi 6 enabled devices to use the standard. This means you will need to upgrade wireless controllers, access points or routers, plus any devices you want to connect to the network, such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and IoT devices. Don’t worry – WiFi 5 devices will still be able to connect to and use the network that your WiFi 6 enabled router provides. This means you can install a WiFi 6 access point without upgrading legacy connected devices just yet.

Do I need WiFi 6 for my business?

Here at A1 Technologies, we’ve been asked this question more and more frequently. The answer? It depends.

To determine whether investing in WiFi 6 is worth it for your business, the most important thing to note is the mobile device landscape across your physical site. Do you have many mobile devices, doing network-intensive tasks? Does your team use laptops instead of desktop computers? If so, then WiFi 6 is a natural (and probably necessary) progression. 

If you don’t have a heavy mobile device and IoT network workload, then you need to think about whether this is something that will be happening in the near future. Do you have a suite of mobile work apps you’re looking to roll out? Laptops and/or tablets for every employee? Expanding your IoT devices to create a smart office? If these types of projects are in the pipeline, then yes, WiFi 6 could really help the incoming infrastructure.

The verdict?

As we move towards a work environment that is ever-more flexible, having desktop computers with fixed ethernet cables may very well go by the wayside. WiFi 6 helps us do away with this fixed infrastructure while still offering fast, reliable speeds. While you will never get quite the same performance over WiFi as you would over a fixed ethernet cable, WiFi 6 helps achieve almost the same result.

If you are interested in implementing WiFi 6 in your workplace and you’re wondering about the right devices and setup that will help you grow and scale, then make sure to reach out. Our networking expertise ensures you get exactly the right infrastructure for your organisation.

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