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To put it simply, WiFi 6 is the faster, better, big brother of the current WiFi standard (also known as 802.11ac).
The decision was made to call 802.11ax, WiFi 6 as it is less complicated and relates to naming conventions for technology such as cellular (5G for example). The existing 802.11ac is WiFi 5 and the wireless standard extends all the way back to WiFi 1 which was released in 1999.
The WiFi alliance was instrumental in this change, and hopes that businesses will adopt this terminology, but there is an expectation that some organisations, especially manufacturers, will ignore this and continue to refer to it as 802.11ax. Only time will tell.
WiFi 6, or 802.11ax, builds upon the strengths of 802.11ac, but as Cisco notes, it adds efficiency, flexibility, and scalability, allowing new and existing networks to increase speed and capacity with next-generation applications.
It’s intended to offer a higher standard of service to existing applications, while having the ability to support new and emerging applications on WLAN infrastructure, serving hundreds and hundreds of active clients per access point.
It’s also much easier to access and the speed is significantly faster in congested areas, such as shopping centres, airports and large offices where there are large numbers of connected devices. Even people living in high density apartments would see a considerable difference.
And of course, the technological mammoth - the Internet of Things (IoT) - will be significantly easier to engage in with WiFi 6. We will be able to transfer more information, with less energy usage needed, and battery life will be extended as well. WiFi 6 improves capabilities around providing the access you need for smart devices, sensors and connected tech which is great news for businesses that are trying to gain or maintain a competitive advantage through IoT and digital transformation.
If congestion and slow speeds are an issue for your business or if you’re actively involved with IoT (or want to be), then WiFi 6 is definitely for you.
WiFi 6 is fairly new to the market, with routers only becoming available in November 2018, but that’s not to say the options to use it aren’t there. As 2019 goes on, it’s expected that WiFi enabled devices will come with this technology already built in.
This is important as both the access point and the receiver, your smart phone or tablet for example, must support WiFi 6, so this may limit smaller businesses from making the switch initially.
For those of you that are interested in the more technical side, Cisco’s technical whitepaper goes into depth on the topic of WiFi 6 and it's worth a read. And, as always, our team of experts are ready and waiting to have a chat with you about your needs – now and in the future.
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