Why it matters: Wi-Fi 6 certification officially launched today. New devices that support the new wireless standard will now be able to display certification stickers from the Wi-Fi Alliance as long as they meet its criteria.
On Monday, the Wi-Fi Alliance launched its official Wi-Fi 6 certification program. Devices with support for Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax) such as the Netgear Nighthawk routers and Samsung's Galaxy S10 have gradually been working their way into the market. The introduction of a sanctioned program to certify these devices means manufacturers can start marketing their newest products as Wi-Fi 6 compliant.
The new "high-efficiency wireless" standard has several features that combine to make it up to 37-percent faster than 802.11ac in single-user scenarios. However, multiuser environments are really where Wi-Fi 6 shines.
Most households have multiple devices connecting to the wireless network. Combining a blend of cellular technologies, including MU-MIMO and OFDMA, throughput is increased by a factor of four per user in multi-device settings. Wireless congestion should be significantly reduced under the new standard, which should come as a relief to those who like to work in coffee shops and other high traffic locations. Check out our Wi-Fi 6 Explained primer for more information on the protocol's features and capabilities.
Devices are not required to receive the certification, and just because they don't, does not mean that they will not work correctly. Samsung and Netgear did not wait for the certification to begin. However, the marketing opportunity provided should incentivize companies to start switching to Wi-Fi 6. this accelerated adoption means we will likely see more device makers switching to the new standard.
Since Wi-Fi 6 requires changes to hardware, most currently sold devices will not be certified. However, the Wi-Fi Alliance says components already on the market are welcome to apply if they meet the requirements. Mostly we will see upcoming phones, routers, and other gadgets with the certification sticker.