What is Wi-Fi 6 and what are its benefits?

Since the announcement of Wi-Fi 6 in 2018, this standard has been overgrown with many rumors and assumptions. Almost two years have passed since then, and although the standard has not yet been finally approved, the first devices with its support have already appeared on sale. And now you can try to understand what this Wi-Fi 6 is, and how we managed to miss the previous five.

Why WiFi 6?
Because the Wi-Fi consortium decided so. Now new versions of the IEEE 802.11 wireless data transfer protocol will be indicated not by obscure numbers and letters, but simply by a serial number. Wi-Fi 6 is 802.11ax, and previous versions, starting from the original 802.11 introduced in 1997, received numbers from 1 to 5. Firstly, it’s easier and more understandable, and secondly, the consortium promises that soon In the future, the generation number (starting with Wi-Fi 4) will appear in the connection icon in the status bar.

And it will be possible to guess from one glance at the screen that the Internet speed is low not because of someone’s malicious intent, but because 802.11n is set in the adapter settings.

Connection speed – faster and even faster.
Each new generation of 802.11 differed from the previous one by a significant increase in the maximum connection speed. Wi-Fi 6 is no exception – now the maximum speed between two wireless devices in ideal conditions is 1.2 Gb / s per 160 MHz channel.

Given that the number of channels in the new edition can reach 8, the maximum achievable theoretical speed is 9.6 Gbps. And even though the practical speeds are still 3-4 times lower, this is still quite a lot. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is not only about increased speed.


Wi-Fi 6 supports up to 8 MU-MIMO (Multipule User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output) channels. This means that the maximum speed of the router can be distributed among several clients in the right proportions. For example, one channel for smartphones and three channels for a laptop (of course, if it has three receiving paths).

The number of “interfering” with each other devices in this mode is reduced significantly. Wi-Fi 6 is a great solution for building small, high-speed networks.

When it was announced that 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) would not support the 2.4GHz frequency, many greeted the news with disappointment. And not only because of the large number of devices that do not operate at 5 GHz: the shorter the radio wave length (the greater the frequency), the less its penetration ability. Therefore, for the same transmitter power, the area of ​​a 5 GHz network can be much smaller than if it were broadcasting on 2.4 GHz.

Well, the Wi-Fi consortium listened to the wishes of users, the new standard will work in both bands, which, of course, expands its capabilities.

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Increasing signal density with 1024-QAM modulation
Data transmission in Wi-Fi is carried out using quadrature modulation, when the signal is encoded with sub-frequencies with the same wavelength, but with a phase shift. In the simplest case, one signal state betrays two bits of information – this is QAM-2 modulation.

As sub frequencies increase, the number of bits transmitted by one signal state increases – 4, 8, 16, etc. up to 256 in 802.11ac. Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024-QAM modulation, which (theoretically) allows you to get a significant speed boost. However, this makes the signal much less intelligible and prone to interference. Therefore, the real increase in speed when using 1024-QAM will be noticeable only in ideal conditions.

But this is really useful technology for real urban conditions. OFDMA will allow you to increase the connection speed in conditions of high band congestion. How does the router work now, having received a request from several clients? It prepares data packets and sends them one by one. Accordingly, the more clients in the network, the greater the delay between the request and the response. OFDMA allows you to allocate separate sub-frequencies on the channel frequency for individual clients and send a response to all of them at the same time.

Moreover, the technology allows you to vary the width of the client channel depending on the volume of the packet being sent.Wi-Fi роутер TP-LINK Archer AX20 6 499 *
BSS Coloring – color the networks in different colors
Another technology designed to speed up the speed in modern conditions. Now any device decrypts any signal received on “its own” frequency – it doesn’t matter if it’s from its own network, someone else’s network, or even from a baby monitor. In modern realities, this leads to a strong decrease in device performance if other networks and devices operating in the same range are nearby. After all, only after completely decrypting the packet and finding out that it is intended for another network, the router rejects it. BSS Coloring technology provides packets with the simplest digital signature that a device can read without fully decoding the signal. We can say that the signals in each network are “painted” with their own color and their belonging is now immediately visible.

This significantly saves resources and, as a result, increases the data transfer rate.

TWT technology (Target Wake Time – “device wake-up time”) is mainly focused on the “Internet of Things” – smart devices like coffee makers, heating boilers and other devices with a Wi-Fi interface. Now “smart” devices are online all the time while they are turned on, increasing its workload. Using TWT will allow them to access the network only when it is really needed to transmit (or receive) data.

As you can see, Wi-Fi 6 offers many, if not revolutionary, then serious enough changes to hope that problems of low speed will one day be a thing of the past. Alas, most of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 only work if all devices on the network support this protocol. There are few of them so far. But Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible with all previous standards, so you can buy a router with support for the new standard today and hope that the transition to the sixth generation of Wi-Fi will happen quickly and painlessly.