What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 Explained

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, expands on the 802.11ac standard. Wi-Fi 6 provides increased speed, flexibility, and scalability.
Family with children gathered around the devices doing homework

Why Wi-Fi 6?

The demand for wireless access is dramatically increasing, and the number and variety of devices and applications continues to grow. Wi-Fi 6 helps accommodate the growing number of mobile and IoT devices by increasing network efficiency and speed to better meet IT and business requirements.

Wi-Fi 6 Benefits

  • Higher data rates
  • Increased capacity
  • Improved performance in environments with many connected devices
  • Improved power efficiency

Wi-Fi 6 Features

  • Orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) effectively shares channels to increase network efficiency.
  • Multi-user multiple input, multiple output (multi-user MIMO) allows more downlink data to be transferred at one time, enabling access points (APs) to concurrently handle more devices.
  • Target Wake Time (TWT) significantly improves network efficiency and device battery life, including IoT devices.
  • IoT handling operating mode for low-power, low-bandwidth devices like sensors, automation, and medical devices.
  • WPA3 and Enhance Open strengthen user privacy in open networks, simplify configuring security for headless IoT devices, and add higher levels of security to meet government, defense and industrial requirements.

Wi-Fi 6 versus Wi-Fi 6E

 Wi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6E (6 GHz)

2.4 and 5.0 GHz spectrum 

2.4, 5 and now 6 GHz spectrum (Devices must be 6 GHz enabled.) 

  • Multi User efficiencies, multi-user input/output (MU-MIMO) to remove bottlenecks 
  • OFDMA to create carpool lanes to piggyback smaller packets like voice data 
  • Target Wake Time (TWT) to allow APs to ping IoT devices at longer intervals & reduce traffic/extend battery life 
  • WPA3 and Enhanced Open to enhance guest access security

Includes all features in Wi-Fi 6 plus 

  • More capacity in the 6 GHz band
  • Wider channels, up to 160 MHz, which are ideal for high-def video and virtual reality
  • No interference from microwaves, etc. because only 6E-capable devices can use the band

Increased efficiencies to provide greater throughput with the same number of APs, ideal for dense environments and large numbers of IoT devices 

Supports greater capacity and wider channels to support multigigabit traffic, ideal for high-definition video and AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) 

How do I choose a Wi-Fi 6 vendor?

Your Wi-Fi vendor should:

  • Demonstrate industry leadership as recognized by leading analysts such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC.
  • Deliver built-in security with unified policy enforcement across wired and wireless networks.
  • Simplify operations by using AI and machine learning to automate optimization and provide actionable recommendations to remediate issues.
  • Offer secure, energy efficient IoT capabilities to enable you to leverage APs as an IoT connectivity platform using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, or USB ports.
  • Provide the flexibility to manage on-prem or in the cloud and to deploy with or without gateways.

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