Will Your New Wireless Network Devices be Wi-Fi 6 Ready?

The Wi-Fi Alliance released certification standards for new Wi-Fi 6 devices earlier this week, signaling that the technology is ready for real-world use. Certification helps assure buyers that devices carrying the label will deliver the best experience using the new standard.

So, what’s Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest version of the 802.11 standard for wireless network transmission. The actual standard is 802.11ax; it’s the 6th version of the spec and Wi-Fi 6 is much easier to say. It’s an improvement over the previous version, 802.11ac, and provides many benefits.

The spec names for Wi-Fi have always been more complex than they need to be, and the Wi-Fi alliance is renaming old standards retroactively so 802.11ac is now known as Wi-Fi 5.

What are the advantages over Wi-Fi 5?

Wi-Fi 6 improves upon the previous spec in several ways. Industry reports indicate that Wi-Fi 6 offers speeds that are about 30% faster with a theoretical maximum speed of around 10 Gbps. Your wireless network speed is limited by your Internet connection, so you might not notice much of a difference immediately. If you are on a network with a large number of devices though, overall performance will improve due to how Wi-Fi 6 handles network traffic.

Wi-Fi 6 is designed for mesh networks, greatly improving network access when multiple access points are in place. A mesh network includes hardware like access points that are able to work together to provide devices with the best throughput possible and reduce network “dead spots” in the process.

The new standard also brings improved wireless security. Wi-Fi 6 certification requires that manufacturers support WPA3, the latest security standard for Wi-Fi networks. WPA3 requires encryption of communications over public networks and is tougher to crack with a brute force attack. While flaws have been discovered in the protocol, it’s a significant improvement over WPA2 and will continue to be improved.

When can I start using Wi-Fi 6?

There’s a good chance that you can begin using it now. Many wireless devices already support the standard and hardware from manufacturers like Meraki already used in many businesses. The latest iPhones – the iPhone11, 11 Pro, and Pro Max also support the new standard. Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible with previous specifications, so older devices will be able to connect to Wi-Fi 6 networks, they just won’t be able to take advantage of most improvements.

Is your wireless network infrastructure beginning to show its age? Are you looking to improve security and overall performance? Get in touch with a member of our team and we’ll work with you to design a network that performs both today and tomorrow.

Matt has spent the better part of 2 decades building systems, managing IT departments, and developing websites and applications for the education, publishing, and technical service industries. As an MCSE...

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