WiFi 6 Just Launched and Here’s What It Means for Your Internet


Woohoo! It is officially new phone season, that time of year when big tech companies roll out the latest devices that offer a host of new features that make you want to throw your old phone right in the trash. Things like better screens, multiple cameras
that look like spider eyeballs, and support for WiFi 6! Wait, WiFi 6… what happened to the first
5? Well it turns out, you’ve actually been using one of the
previous iterations of WiFi, which can trace their roots to 1997. Back then it wasn’t called WiFi 1,
but the much catchier 802.11. The number code was designated by the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE. Since then, there have been several updates
to the 802.11 standard, and each one had a different letter tacked on the end, like a,
b, g, and n. But unless you’re a diehard technophile,
the letters and what they mean are hard to sort out. So to make things a bit easier for consumers,
the next standard, 802.11 ax, will be referred to as Wi-Fi 6, and previous standards will
be retroactively renamed, like the last gen 802.11ac is now also called WiFi 5. So how is WiFi 6 better? Well like you might expect, it’s promising
faster speeds. Industry experts predict about 30% gains over WiFi 5 with theoretical maximum
download speeds up to 10 Gbps in ideal conditions. If you’re into streaming 4K movies or want
to jump into cloud gaming, those numbers will make you drool. One way it achieves this is by upping the
number of bits the router can push out with each transmission. Sending information over the air is done by
modulating radio waves. The way the wave is affected is interpreted
by the device as a one and a zero, a process called quadrature amplitude modulation, or QAM. A 2-QAM router can affect radio waves in two
distinct ways, so each transmission could only serve as a single one or a zero. A 4-QAM router can send 2 digits at a time. WIFi 5 routers are 256-QAM, meaning they
can send 8 bits with each transmission, while a WiFi 6 device is 1024-QAM, adding
another 2 binary digits to each transmission for a total of 10. That all sounds great, but keep in mind your
WiFi 6 router can only be as fast as your internet service provider will allow, so depending
on how you’re wired into the grid and what kind of plan you pay for, your mileage may
vary. Aside from the bump in speed limit, the exciting
thing about WiFi 6 is how it delivers internet to multiple devices. The first improvement is the router’s ability
to split up the channels it’s communicating over, allowing different devices to get serviced
directly simultaneously and cutting down on latency. WiFi 6 routers are also able to use the spatial
differences between devices to tailor the information it sends and receives. And if there are multiple smart devices like
thermostats and refrigerators that regularly ping your router, a WiFi 6 router will put
them on a schedule to ease congestion. What this all means is WiFi 6 is great news
for situations that deal with a lot of devices all at once. Stadiums and airports are ideal places for
the new routers, and those with WiFi 6 compatible phones, tablets, and computers will reap the
benefits. Otherwise unless you’ve got a home festooned
with smart tech or pay your ISP for the very best internet speeds possible, you’re
just fine with your old phone and router that are still using the old 802.11ac. Excuse me, WiFi 5. While WiFi 6 certification just officially
launched, the development of WiFi 7 is already underway. Have we ever mentioned how fast tech moves? Wireless internet has been around for two
decades, so when is wireless charging going to be a thing? Check out Amanda’s video on that here. Is Wi-Fi 6 enough to make you upgrade your
phone? Let us know in the comments, subscribe for
more, and I’ll see you next time on Seeker.

Danny Hutson

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