The highly anticipated next generation of wireless networks, 802.11ax, better known as Wi-Fi 6, has arrived and promises significant improvements over the current 802.11ac standard (now called Wi-Fi 5 by the Wi-Fi Alliance) . Higher throughput rates, better battery life for customers and less bandwidth congestion are some of the most obvious reasons for upgrading to the new standard, but there are some important things that you should consider before not using a Wi-Fi 6 router buy more.  What is Wi-Fi 6?
Much has been written about Wi-Fi 6 so far, but here is a brief overview of what you can expect from the latest 802.11 wireless standard. (For more history, see our explanation.) Wi-Fi 6 routers use various new technologies designed to improve overall performance by offering higher throughput speeds (theoretically nearly 1
In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is intended to alleviate network congestion, provide greater client capacity, and reduce client power consumption. For example, Wi-Fi 6 uses OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access) modulation, which allows up to 30 clients to share a channel simultaneously, improving efficiency by increasing overall capacity and reducing latency. To make a long story short, OFDMA assigns time intervals to customers with which they can better dissect available network channels. For example, if one person in your house is streaming a movie and another is checking social media on a phone, OFDMA can assign a router channels to each device based on when it needs it most.
Wi-Fi 6 also uses Target Wake Time (TWT), which allows devices to determine when they normally wake up to send and receive data. This extends the battery life of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as battery-powered smart home devices such as security cameras & video doorbells. The new standard also uses previously unused radio frequencies for faster 2.4 GHz performance and uses sophisticated bandwidth management to offer improved Quality of Service (QoS) options. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 offers eight streams uplink and downlink Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Out (MU-MIMO), which streams data simultaneously instead of sequentially, allowing for a more equitable distribution of bandwidth between connected MU-MIMO clients. Wi-Fi 5 MU-MIMO awarded with four streams.
So, do you have to upgrade now?
The short answer is, probably not. You can now find a handful of Wi-Fi 6 routers on the market (see our reviews of the Asus RT-AX88U and the Netgear Nighthawk AX8). Every day more appear and they are all backwards compatible with clients of the previous generation. But to realize the higher speeds, the improved range, the reduced power consumption and other benefits that you get with Wi-Fi 6, you need to use Wi-Fi 6 compatible clients, and from now on there are few.
Devices that support the latest protocol are just starting to roll out, but keep in mind that even devices use a form that is still in draft. PC & # 39; s with Intel Ice Lake CPU & # 39; s support the protocol, but they are now starting to sell slowly. Smartphones with the Snapdragon 855 processor from Qualcomm, including the OnePlus 7 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10, also support Wi-Fi 6. If you do not have a Wi-Fi 6 compatible device, aftermarket adapters are also available.
Is Wi-Fi 6 complete?
The Wi-Fi Alliance has just started to certify devices mid-September 2019. To become Wi-Fi, Fi-6 certified devices must meet various requirements, including support for uplink and downlink OFDMA, MU-MIMO- streaming and beamforming, the latest of which transmits Wi-Fi signals directly to clients rather than over a broad spectrum. Devices should also be able to process WPA3 encryption, which is the latest iteration of WiFi security, which will use features such as robust password protection and 256-bit encryption algorithms to make it harder for people to hack your network.
Also required is support for 1,024-QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), a method that can pack more data into each signal for greater throughput, with 25 percent more capacity than the 256-QAM method used in the most Wi-Fi 5 routers. Finally, devices must have Target Wake Time energy planning capabilities. All this jargon is a lot to unpack, but rest assured that any device that you get that supports the final Wi-Fi 6 standard will have all these features in place.
Think before you upgrade
The-Wi-Fi Alliance has just started certifying devices as compatible with Wi-Fi-6. Once it's fully rolled out, it's probably a game changer. So what is the bottom line when upgrading? If you are currently using a Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) router with a mix of Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) and Wi-Fi 5 clients, and it is ready, there is no reason to replace it with a Wi-Fi 6 router. On the other hand, if you are building a new network and want to be ready for the attack of Wi-Fi 6 clients that will ultimately be on the shelves, future-proof with a Wi-Fi 6 router is a smart choice. Please note that the technology is likely to evolve and additional features can be added at a later time.