Wi-Fi 6 Explained: The Next Generation of Wi-Fi

Julio Franco

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

tipstir

TS Ambassador
802.11n 2.4GHz very popular and 5 GHz showing up in more devices today. 802.11ax 6 GHz much improvement but again new devices will support protocol. Times are changing and more powerful routers and WiFi will help us all make our lives more helpful. Yet I just spend a lot on revamping my old Z-wave to Smart WiFi LED Lights just to learn they only support 2.4GHz and not 5GHz. But they do work with Miss Google Home Mini. Got 9 smart bulbs setup. Outdoor patio 4 spot smart wifi LED bulbs plus 6 more smart wifi LED bulbs. Prices have drop and I m hopping on them as quick as I can. Even got the Google Home Mini for free as well. There was a deal on Wyze Smart WiFi 2.4 GHz Cam too picked up one as well.
 

fps4ever

TS Evangelist
Really good article but nobody has mentioned the elephant in the room. Range, range, range. Will we need an AP in every room or line of sight because the signal can barely go through a sheet of paper? Sure we'll get 4x the speed at the edge but what is that edge?
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Really good article but nobody has mentioned the elephant in the room. Range, range, range. Will we need an AP in every room or line of sight because the signal can barely go through a sheet of paper? Sure we'll get 4x the speed at the edge but what is that edge?
Since it’s backwards compatible and uses the same bands, the range will be the same in the current bands... range of 6ghz and other “new” bands will be different.
 

Knot Schure

TS Addict
Really good article but nobody has mentioned the elephant in the room. Range, range, range. Will we need an AP in every room or line of sight because the signal can barely go through a sheet of paper? Sure we'll get 4x the speed at the edge but what is that edge?
Nail on the head.

Exactly what I was thinking. From the article, lots of new tech & ideas, so two steps forward, but five steps, er dB, backwards.
 
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treetops

TS Evangelist
Really good article but nobody has mentioned the elephant in the room. Range, range, range. Will we need an AP in every room or line of sight because the signal can barely go through a sheet of paper? Sure we'll get 4x the speed at the edge but what is that edge?
Since it’s backwards compatible and uses the same bands, the range will be the same in the current bands... range of 6ghz and other “new” bands will be different.
Some devices cannot use 5 ghz, id bet 6 ghz will be the same.
 
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Really good article but nobody has mentioned the elephant in the room. Range, range, range. Will we need an AP in every room or line of sight because the signal can barely go through a sheet of paper? Sure we'll get 4x the speed at the edge but what is that edge?
Yes, the question about the range for Wi-Fi 6 is a good one.

The 2nd elephant in the room: increased speeds/channels/per-user bandwidth is a great improvement, so long as your users are only using that for LAN traffic (I.e. in your house, intra-office data, etc.)...but once the traffic starts connecting outside of your LAN to the outside world, then you're going to run up against a big speed bump with your ISP connection.

And yes, I know: there are providers out there that will provide home users with a 1Gbps or even faster connection (note that businesses have had access to those kind of connections for much, much longer, & generally large businesses would need much more bandwidth for day-to-day operations), but a) not everyone is willing to pay for it (for example, I pay $65/month for my 100Mbps connection; there's the possibility of bumping it up to 420Mbps for no charge, or up to 900+Mbps for another $40/month, but I suspect those are only available to customers wanting to add TV and/or phone service on. Either way, with only my wife & myself in our household, & generally maybe 2 or 3 devices tops connecting at the same time, we really don't need to pay extra for the faster connection), b) not everyone has it available (Google Fiber, for example, is still limited to only so many cities in the US), & c) there is not a single country whose average connection speed comes even close to maxing out a Wi-Fi 4 connection's bandwidth (let alone 5 or 6).

Although the last data I could find was for 1st Quarter 2017, I highly doubt that the average connections have gotten that much faster:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/616210/average-internet-connection-speed-in-the-us/ : average USA connection speed is only 18.7Mbps.

https://www.recode.net/2017/6/9/15768598/states-fastest-slowest-internet-speeds : The "fastest" state/province in the US (District of Columbia) still didn't reach 30Mbps. Only 17 of the states had faster/equal average speeds compared to the US average.

https://www.fastmetrics.com/internet-connection-speed-by-country.php : Looking at the entire world doesn't show a much better picture either. Japan, supposedly home of the superfast Internet connections for all, only averaged 20.2Mbps (maybe 10% faster than the US). The worldwide winner, South Korea, blew the US away...at an average of 28.6Mbps: much faster (about 55% faster), but still a speed at which a Wi-Fi 4 router would sneer at. The worldwide average is pretty bad at 7.2Mbps...which is enough to run a single device (I.e. streaming from a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick, playing online from your PC/console, etc.), but woefully inadequate for more than basic email/surfing if multiple devices are connected.

I get that tech advances, & boundaries are pushed as much as possible. But let's face it: aside from perhaps Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, malls, other public places with "free" Wi-Fi, or at corporate offices that (for whatever reason) are ditching more-secure hardwired connections for Wi-Fi connections, a Wi-Fi 6 router is pretty much unnecessary, & nothing more than an expensive toy to brag about.
 
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fps4ever

TS Evangelist
Since it’s backwards compatible and uses the same bands, the range will be the same in the current bands... range of 6ghz and other “new” bands will be different.
After reading further this seems to hold true. We'll get the same range as current AC standards but with better thru-put (speeds) on the edge of AC ranges. Theoretically anyway along with the other benefits listed in the article.
 

deemon

TS Addict
Does this 6-24GHz spectrum waves penetrate better reinforced concrete than 5GHz? If not, it's completely and utterly pointless new tech. Can't say current (wifi 5?) is slow. Problem is the inability to work through walls (and I mean here actual concrete walls normal people have their home walls made of, not the wood and ducttape the 'muricans use to build their sheds (sorry for assuming, but seen few episodes of the "home extreme makeover" or whatever series where they just start with driving through the previous home with something ... is just so absurd, like there wasn't even any building before... but it looks like they actually are living in sheds. Does reality differ from that? :-D )).
 
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Does this 6-24GHz spectrum waves penetrate better reinforced concrete than 5GHz? If not, it's completely and utterly pointless new tech. Can't say current (wifi 5?) is slow. Problem is the inability to work through walls (and I mean here actual concrete walls normal people have their home walls made of, not the wood and ducttape the 'muricans use to build their sheds (sorry for assuming, but seen few episodes of the "home extreme makeover" or whatever series where they just start with driving through the previous home with something ... is just so absurd, like there wasn't even any building before... but it looks like they actually are living in sheds. Does reality differ from that? :-D )).
Depends on when the homes were built. Mine, for example, was built in the 1950s, & it not only has twice the recommended number of supports for the roof (IIRC, the supports are every 12in/30cm in my attic), but there's a lot of metal in the house: metal interior door frames, metal interior doors, & even metal wire crossbeam supports in the interior & exterior walls. It makes TV reception spotty sometimes, but luckily it's also under 1,000 square feet/93 square meters, so the Wi-Fi 4 signal reaches all of the rooms.

But yeah, there're a lot of pre-fab homes here in the US, & it's not a recent trend either; they've been making homes that way since the 1970s.
 
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Julian Garcia

TS Rookie
Has anyone in this forum ever heard of WiLi (I not sure if it is spelled right) It's supposed to use light for the transmission of WiFi, supposed to be 5 to 10 THOUSAND times faster than WiFi and work anywhere light exist. I saw a report in one of the Tech channels in XUMO.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Has anyone in this forum ever heard of WiLi (I not sure if it is spelled right) It's supposed to use light for the transmission of WiFi, supposed to be 5 to 10 THOUSAND times faster than WiFi and work anywhere light exist. I saw a report in one of the Tech channels in XUMO.
But it’s line-of-sight .... so not very useful for any place with walls...
 

amghwk

TS Guru
No need to explain. There are only 3 things we have come to expect from the next gen tech - faster, bigger and better.

In fact I never followed up with all the wifi iterations so far. **shru-ggs**
 
Has anyone in this forum ever heard of WiLi (I not sure if it is spelled right) It's supposed to use light for the transmission of WiFi, supposed to be 5 to 10 THOUSAND times faster than WiFi and work anywhere light exist. I saw a report in one of the Tech channels in XUMO.
I think you're talking about "Li-Fi", which uses the visible/IR/UV portion of the EM spectrum instead of radio waves. Aside from the potentially faster bandwidth (& much broader range of channels available), the key feature of it is both its limitation & its selling point: need for line-of-sight (direct or indirect) -- supposedly they were able to manage 70Mbps speeds by using the reflections off of a wall. Basically, if a solid, non-transparent object blocks line-of-sight between the transmitting & receiving LEDs, the signal can't get through. That's great for network security, but bad for use in pretty much every building unless you can afford to install the LEDs in every single room of the building.

And I would imagine that its primary benefit would be more for desktop PCs or other devices that are less portable, since it would be much easier to guarantee the connection if you know that device A is always going to be in the same spot.
 

jobeard

TS Ambassador
Does this 6-24GHz spectrum waves penetrate better reinforced concrete than 5GHz? If not, it's completely and utterly pointless new tech.
General rule for RF propagation: the higher the Fq (also shorter the wave length) then the weaker the signal, shorter the distance and less object penetration.

The newest 900MHZ cell service will have the best range todate compares as
900 Mz > 2.4Gz > 5 Gz
 

JavaMan

TS Rookie
I'm curious as to how much WiFi 6 will help in practical situations. In our apartment complex, it seems everyone around us is using 80MHz wide channels on 5GHz, which there's only two non-overlapping. There are 5 SSIDs that are about the same strength signal as ours, -30db to -40db, another 7 that are -40db to -50db, then a varying number of weaker signals below -50db which show up at times. We have trouble streaming in the evening with our 11AC router, rated at AC1900. I was checking connection bit rates, and it jumps all over the place from 1mbps to 100mbps, just changing constantly. I've run a number of speed tests, varies between 1mbps and 8mbps, we are on a 10mbps down 2mbps up plan with our ISP. I had tried going to the 50mbps plan for a couple of months, but it did not make any difference for wireless clients. Only hardwired clients can get over 15mbps during the day. At 3 am, the wireless works good though....but I'm not letting the kids up for a family movie then.

How much will WiFi6 really help in dense apartments?

Will the increased throughput only help within your own network? If any other networks are nearby will it still fall on its face like 11AC does?

When will everyone get off this wider channel train? If everyone in our apartment complex was using 20MHz wide channels, then we would not have the extreme overlapping issue that makes throughput take a crap.

People need actual usable throughputs of 50mbps and higher. All these routers advertizing 3000mpbs, 7000mbps etc. are just useless numbers to real people who don't live a quarter mile from any neighbors.
 
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jobeard

TS Ambassador
Since it’s backwards compatible and uses the same bands, the range will be the same in the current bands... range of 6ghz and other “new” bands will be different.
The WiFi-6 will have a lower band and be as accessible as our existing 5Ghz, but the upper band will only be accessible ~100-200ft and have extremely poor wall penetration.