What is wifi6?

Many of you may have been hearing about “Wifi6”.  Well what is it exactly? Wifi6 is a standard based on the support of 802.11ax.  So what is 802.11ax?

802.11ax is designed to operate from 1 to 7GHZ.  This means it can be used in 3GHZ as well as the possible upcoming rule changes to the 6ghz space. 802.11ax supports 1024-QAM modulation, which means higher throughput is achievable. As with many new standards, other new protocols come along with this.  WPA3’s biggest selling point is what is called forward secrecy.  We will talk about that in an upcoming post.

Look for 2.4GHZ to make a small comeback. Over the past few years 2.4ghz has become congested and many router manufacturers have pushed 5GHZ as the primary access method on home routers.  Devices like Apple iPhones will prefer 5GHZ over 2.4 due to the higher data rates with 802.11ac which operates in the 5GHZ band. With AX we will see the 2.4GHZ band being utilized in various ways. Chip makers such as Qualcomm have chips which can offer multiple streams across multiple bands at the same time.

Some other features which AX will be superior to AC in are:
Spatial Frequency Reuse.  A term called “coloring” is introduced.  Coloring allows the network to identify internal vs external transmissions. This allows neighboring devices to decide if they can transmit and if they need to adjust power to reliably do it.

Network Allocation Vector (NAV) – This is a WIMAX mechanism being applied to ax.  It is a carrier sensing mechanism designed to avoid collisions with both external and internal networks.

Target Wake Time – This allows better use of beaconing and allows the stations to utilize air time better.

These are just a few of the new things upcoming in wifi6.  If you want to read a vendor-neutral paper on this here is a good link: http://www.ni.com/en-us/innovations/white-papers/16/introduction-to-802-11ax-high-efficiency-wireless.html

As we see more and more manufacturers introduce wifi6 devices we will see devices referred to in 3 categories

  • Wi-Fi 6 to identify devices that support 802.11ax technology
  • Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac technology
  • Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n technology

Look for some more upcoming posts on the new features of wifi6.