Here’s Why 2021 Will Be the Year for Wi-Fi 6

The holiday season is here. And so is something that can make home internet work better. On November 10, Apple announced that its newly released MacBooks, Mac Mini, and now the iPhone 12 would support Wi-Fi 6. Consumer Reports recently published an article explaining why it’s time to buy a Wi-Fi 6 router. Manufacturers are rushing to add Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices to everyone’s shopping lists.

As a service provider, you need to know what Wi-Fi 6 offers, anticipate likely questions from your subscribers, and understand how ASSIA can help you support your customers as this standard comes to maturity.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi standards. It was a planned effort designed to accommodate the growing number of internet-enabled devices coming on the market and appearing in places of business, in homes, and pretty much everywhere. While Wi-Fi 6 has been around for over a year, there are three solid reasons for its suddenly rapid roadmap.

  • Work-from-home and stay-at-home mandates led to unprecedented home internet usage and associated challenges.
  • The FCC recently ruled to make available new spectrum “to enable wider channels that can be immediately used by Wi-Fi 6 to support gigabit connectivity with lower latency, improved coverage, and better power efficiency.”
  • The additional 6GHz band is known as Wi-Fi 6E. Essentially it’s like the FCC turned a two-lane into a six-lane highway.

At a high level, Wi-Fi 6 solves several fundamental problems for end-users:

Speed
Wi-Fi 6 is about 6x times faster than Wi-Fi 5 though speed is largely dependent on the number of access points, devices on the network, and environment. Overall, users can get Wi-Fi speed, stability, and availability on the level of a wired connection.

Consistent access and performance
As important as speed is consistent access and optimized performance. This is where Wi-Fi 6 shines. As we bring more and more internet-enabled devices and applications into the home—from video games to online education to light switches, Wi-Fi 6 can use what bandwidth is needed, only when it’s needed. Essentially, a way better job of balancing the load.

Capacity and density
Whether your teenagers in the next room have hijacked the internet or all your neighbors and/or roommates are on video chat, Wi-Fi 6 can handle co-channel interference. It solves for dense environments with myriad devices and simultaneous connections.

Reach and coverage
Another common challenge that users experience with Wi-Fi is reach. You walk around the house, and your Wi-Fi comes and goes. In some places, it’s an internet dead zone. Wi-Fi 6 can offer consistent coverage throughout your home and a better job at prioritizing access for applications, devices, and users.

Better security
WPA3, emerged in 2018, but only now in Wi-Fi 6 is a new security protocol that makes it harder for hackers to crack a user’s password with repeated guesses. It also makes some data less useful if hackers get it.

How does Wi-Fi 6 work, technically?

Wi-Fi 6 offers several many capabilities to improve Wi-Fi network coverage and performance. Some include:

  • OFDMA (Orthogonal frequency division multiple access): Enables greater network efficiency and lower latency for uplink and downlink traffic.
  • Multi-user MIMO (Multi-user multiple input, multiple output): Allows for more downlink data to be transferred and to handle more devices concurrently.
  • TWT (Target wake time): Improves network efficiency and extends device battery life by letting devices “sleep” when they are not used.
  • BSS (Basic Service Set) Coloring addresses densely populated areas where networks are transmitting lots of data, typically in proximity which leads to overlaps between access points, interference, and latency.

These are just some of the technical details. Learn about the rest here.

Will non-Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices become obsolete?

Yes and no. Yes, Wi-Fi 6 will eventually eclipse older devices. But, no, because Wi-Fi 6 software and devices are still being rolled out. The good news about standards is that new devices will be Wi-Fi 6 enabled by default.

As The Verge advises, the one purchase you might want to add to your holiday shopping list is a Wi-Fi 6 router. Especially if you plan to invest in a Mac, Asus, Samsung, or Lenovo laptop. Here’s why:

“If your router doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, you won’t see any benefits, no matter how many Wi-Fi 6 devices you bring home. (You could actually see a benefit, though, connecting Wi-Fi 5 gadgets to a Wi-Fi 6 router, because the router may be capable of communicating with more devices at once.)”

ASSIA has been working with service providers, CPE vendors, and chipset manufacturers to enable the value that Wi-Fi 6 can bring. 2021 is the year when it will all come together—home network, new devices, and cloud management—to deliver a superior quality of experience for the end-user.