What is wi-fi six and do I need it?

What is wi-fi 6 and do I need it?

Wi-fi has always been a mystery to most of us. We use it every day and it runs most of the things we do in our lives. At work, home and now even in our cars. It is something we can’t see, and we just want it to work. There have been several protocols of wi-fi based on the 802.11 standard. Over the years, the 802 stayed the same, but the designation after that has changed. It became confusing. To simplify it, the IEEE changed to a single number system. Wi-fi 1 thru 6. Wi-fi 6 is the latest and biggest change.

Initial wi-fi used 2.4ghz frequency. 2.4ghz has a lot of issues that make it not work well. Then came 5ghz. The 5ghz was much better with more channels. Wi-fi 6 adds a 6ghz frequency to the mix. The higher frequency is faster, but it has a shorter wavelength that makes the usable distance shorter. To transfer over short distances, wi-fi 6 is screaming fast.

One of the biggest changes is wi-fi 6 requires devices that are wi-fi 6 compatible. The routers are backward compatible, so it will work with your older devices. You won’t get the full benefits of wi-fi 6 unless you are using wi-fi 6 devices. So, the question is, do I need to upgrade now?

Benefits of wi-fi 6

Faster speed. Speeds will be faster on uploads and downloads because of the better throughput. More available bandwidth will allow files to transfer faster. How much faster you are wondering. The theoretical maximum speed of wi-fi 5 is 3.5 gbps. The theoretical maximum speed of wi-fi 6 is 9.6 gbps. A significant increase for sure.

You would never reach those speeds, but it is much faster. Along with the extra bandwidth, wi-fi 6 is much more efficient at handling traffic, so it works better. It is kind of like smart traffic lights that make traffic flow better by not just cycling the lights but letting traffic flow when there is an opening. Because of the better efficiency, it can reduce the latency by up to 75%. The goal is to get the gap between wi-fi and direct connected with an ethernet cable closer together.

Not getting into the technical jargon, the bottom line is wi-fi6 routers can send out a signal and communicate with multiple devices at a time instead of having to wait to finish one communication before starting another.

Most people have many devices in their home using wi-fi now. The wi-fi 6 router can talk to multiple devices, so if several people are using the wi-fi, it will be faster. Faster wi-fi speeds will become increasingly important as time goes on and we keep adding more devices to our home networks.

Beamforming is another way that the speed increases. Previous wi-fi protocols have a signal that goes out from the router in a spherical pattern. Wi-fi 6 can sense where the device is located and send a stronger signal directly to that device.

Wi-fi 6 also has many more channels to use for transferring data. 2.4ghz has 5 usable channels. 5ghz has around forty-five channels and wi-fi6 has sixty channels.

Security is another improvement. The new standard for wi-fi 6 is WPA3. This offers better encryption, so passwords are much harder to crack, and your network is more secure.

Increased battery life. Because of the better efficiency, some devices will need to use less power to communicate with the router. This can help increase battery life.

Should you upgrade to wi-fi 6?

Because of the better efficiency of the router, you will get faster performance on the 2.4ghz and the 5ghz and the 6ghz. The new standard will also improve throughput in highly congested areas because of the efficiency increase. Better security and increased battery life for some devices. It is worth it to upgrade for now and in the future with the new protocol.

The cost of wi-fi 6 routers has come down over the past year. So, if you need a new router, or you want to get the latest technology and have better bandwidth as you are adding more devices, upgrade. You will get faster speed, even with older devices, you will get faster speed with new devices, you will get better throughput so you can efficiently use more devices on your network. The added security is another reason to upgrade now. There is no reason not to upgrade now unless you just got a non-wi-fi5 router.

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