The quest for speed has always been a human desire.

It’s no different with Wi-Fi: we always want to get our data delivered fast.

“I feel the need… the need for speed”, to quote Maverick and Goose.

Wi-Fi 6, fulfills the desire of getting your data quickly, by improving how Wi-Fi works.

Here’s a link from waaaaay back in 2018, when the WFA announced it was changing the naming convention of Wi-Fi:

In the end, they only went with 4-6, and dropped 1-3, but you can see, this has been a long time coming. 

Here’s a great introductory article written in 2019 on NC-Expert’s blog, introducing Wi-Fi 6 at a very high-level:

Here is a more technical in-depth article covering 802.11ax:

I don’t see the point in regurgitating, in detail, what is already written in these links, but a quick summary may help:

The whole principle behind Wi-Fi 6 is to be more efficient. When it was first starting to be discussed, it was following Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n High Throughput – HT), and then Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac Very High Throughput – VHT). We all expected it to be called SuperDuperMegaUltra Throughput. But, no, it was called High Efficiency WLAN. This is very important to note. It’s designed from the ground up, to be MORE EFFICIENT.

Wi-Fi, by its nature and operation has always been inefficient with airtime. Say, for example, you are connected at 48mbps, your effective throughput is probably around 24mbps. Yes, when multiple clients were running 802.11a or 802.11g you could expect a shared throughput of around 50% of the connection speed (it’s actually a lot more complex than this, but let’s keep it simple). 802.11n and 802.11ac improved these numbers to around 70% as a burst, but not continuous.

So, the obvious way to improve Wi-Fi, was to become more efficient. This is what Wi-Fi 6 set out to do. By cleverly creating Resource Units, along with some control from the AP, huge efficiencies can be achieved. Of course, it does require most clients to be Wi-Fi 6 compatible, to get maximum benefit.

Wi-Fi 6 also improved things for IoT devices. Wi-Fi has never been friendly to low power, low usage devices. “Oh, I’ve not seen the device for xx minutes, let’s assume it’s gone, and delete all record of it.” This was typical with previous Wi-Fi operation. Wi-Fi 6 is much more IoT friendly with the introduction of Target Wake Time (TWT). This allows a device to tell the AP how often it will wake up. This is also great for power saving, as well as great for IoT devices.

One other thing Wi-Fi 6 is doing, is also operating in 2.4GHz, we’ll have to wait and see how useful this will be, as 2.4GHz has always had a legacy backwards-compatible problem. Technically, 802.11prime and 802.11b are still viable options to be catered for within 2.4GHz.

Of course, that being said, Wi-Fi 6 will soon be extended into a brand new frequency range: 6GHz (Wi-Fi 6E). The 802.11ax protocol (original Wi-Fi 6), was actually delayed when 6GHz was announced, so it could take full advantage of the benefits of 6GHz. Nope, not talking about that here, go to this blog for more information on Wi-Fi 6E:  6 or 6E, what’s the difference? 

Ok. That rounds off this blog.