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How fast is Wi-Fi 6?

2022-08-18 12
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When a new technology is released, we all want to know what the main advantages are. And when it comes to Wi-Fi, speed is a top priority. So will a Wi-Fi 6 network be faster than a network with older equipment? And what advantages does Wi-Fi 6 have other than raw speed?

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) provides faster speeds than its predecessors Wi-Fi 4 and 5. In fact, in can deliver a theoretical maximum throughput speed of 9.6 Gbps, compared to Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac)’s 3.5 Gbps and Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)’s 600 Mbps. In common use, a Wi-Fi 6 connection is not likely to ever reach its maximum speed of 9.6 Gbps, but Wi-Fi 6 will still provide marked improvements in speed and quality due to the new technologies it implements.

A timeline illustrates the maximum speed  of a single spatial stream for different types of 802.11 standards.

What makes Wi-Fi 6 faster?

You have probably experienced issues when many people on one network were using it at the same time, or even just one person with many connected devices. Wi-Fi 6 makes dramatic improvements to this issue. While previous generations of Wi-Fi networks would be slowed down by having many devices connected at once, Wi-Fi 6 allows routers to communicate with multiple devices much more efficiently. Wi-Fi 6 uses several features together to improve the flow of traffic:

1. Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)

OFDMA, or Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access, is one of the features that sets Wi-Fi 6 apart. Previous Wi-Fi standards were designed for the old web, email and web browsing which was much less data-intensive. Today, we are streaming, gaming, downloading and uploading more than ever before, on many different devices, which creates network congestion.

Increased Efficiency with OFDMA

With OFDMA, routers can utilize bandwidth in a more efficient way, increasing the overall speed of Wi-Fi 6. This frees up bandwidth for all the other devices on the network, which is becoming more and more relevant in the world of IoT devices.

Wi-Fi 6 uses OFDMA to subdivide channels into subcarriers, so that one transmission from the router can reach multiple devices. Previously, each device would have to wait in a queue, rather than being served simultaneously. OFDMA allows transmissions both to and from multiple clients.

2. Overlapping Basic Service Sets (OBSS)

Noise from other networks can cause delays on older versions of Wi-Fi. With OBSS, devices can ignore overlapping activity from other networks, with improves reliability and reduces latency. OBSS is also known as “Basic Service Set Coloring”, because each network is ‘color-coded’ to set it apart from other networks on the same frequency. Each network is clearly demarcated from the others, so there is no confusion which could cause congestion.

3. Beamforming

Older routers would broadcast their data across their entire range in order for it to reach the proper device. Wi-Fi 6 routers use an innovative method called beamforming, which allows them to pinpoint the direction that the request is coming from, and only transmit the data stream towards the respective device.

This method is much more efficient at providing a high signal quality, resulting in faster transmission and fewer errors while using the same power. It also reduces interference for other users.

Wi-Fi 6 Advanced

In the manufacturing, energy, and healthcare industries where there are greater technical needs for ultra-high reliability and bandwidth, the Huawei Wi-Fi 6 Advanced Solution takes Wi-Fi 6 technology one step further. It builds on the standard Wi-Fi 6 by adding many new features to enhance performance: Wi-Fi 6 Advanced provides network-wide gigabit speeds, real-time intelligent control, and harmonized IoT and sensing, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and placing a high priority on security. Wi-Fi 6 Advanced can deliver Gbit/s speeds, with 7 channels at 160 MHz and just 10ms latency.

Wi-Fi 6 Advanced supports Wi-Fi 6 Extended, which adds the 6 GHz frequency band to offer up to seven additional 160 MHz channels, enabling gigabit wireless everywhere. In addition, Coordinated Spatial Reuse (CoSR) technology enhances wireless performance by 15%, and Fluent-Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (Fluent-MIMO) technology increases concurrency speeds by 20%.

Wi-Fi 6 Advanced is not only used in manufacturing and other scenarios, but the innovative technology inside it can also be used into office and education scenarios to build an extremely fast, stable and smart all-wireless network.

Wi-Fi 6 isn’t just about Top Speeds

An initial increase in speed isn’t the main advantage of Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 as a technology will future-proof networks against the ever-growing number of devices that we all have that might be using up bandwidth simultaneously.

It’s about keeping the speed high and steady even during busy periods. Many devices can be connected to a network without degrading performance. This is important now and will become even more important in the future.

The average number of devices in each home has nearly doubled since the introduction of Wi-Fi 5. In 2014, the average number of devices per US household was 5.2, and in 2018 the number grew to 9.1. This number is only expected to increase, so networks must have the capacity for dozens of devices operating at the same time.

Will my devices be faster on Wi-Fi 6?

So what is the speed of Wi-Fi 6? It’s a hard question to answer because there are many variables at play.

When you compare of one Wi-Fi 6 device connected to a Wi-Fi 6 router with one Wi-Fi 5 device connected to a Wi-Fi 5 router, the Wi-Fi 6 setup will be faster, but the difference in speed is not likely to be dramatic.

The advantage of Wi-Fi 6 really starts to shine when you have many devices connected to the router. You probably know the frustration of a network getting overwhelmed by too many people streaming video or playing online games at once, or just the cumulative effect of a large household where everyone has their own mobile, tablet, and computer. Add on to this any number of smart appliances and other devices in the home that need to connect to the network, and the supply of bandwidth starts falling short. This is the main problem that Wi-Fi 6 will help to solve.

Wi-Fi 6 does reduce latency, by up to 75%, by handling network traffic more efficiently in cases where older systems might be overwhelmed. It also helps wireless connections to get closer to the same speed as Ethernet connections, so you have the flexibility to move around the house.

The real-world speed of Wi-Fi 6 will be faster due to its increased bandwidth and its increased ability to deal with many devices on a network. The amount of data involved in watching streaming videos, gaming, broadcasting to streaming sites, and more will only increase as time goes on, as will the number of devices in each household – and Wi-Fi 6 is equipped to deal with these increases in the years to come.

Product Portfolio of Huawei AirEngine Wi-Fi 6

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