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October 16, 2018 by George Wong

The Wi-Fi 6 Standard is Coming – Will you be Ready?

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Our Wi-Fi dependence continues to grow, with no signs of slowing down. Most of us (75 percent in the U.S.) use Wi-Fi as our primary method of connecting to the Internet, and we’re adding more connected devices to our homes all the time. By 2022, it’s expected that most households will have as many as 50 connected devices, which is more than double the 2017 average.

These trends are obviously good news for service providers. More devices mean greater demand for bandwidth, which in turn drives adoption of premium high-speed Internet packages. Capitalizing on this opportunity, however, will require service providers to devise a clear Wi-Fi evolution strategy. Not surprisingly, a key pillar of any such strategy involves ensuring that subscribers have the most sophisticated Wi-Fi equipment available, so they can take advantage of the latest and greatest features and performance improvements.

The new Wi-Fi 6 standard (previously called 802.11ax) is the latest iteration of the IEEE Wi-Fi standard and one that service providers need to start factoring into their plans soon. It implements more than 50 new features since the 802.11ac (now Wi-Fi 5) version was released and is set to be approved in late 2019. We’ve just published a new white paper that highlights the key features of the Wi-Fi 6 standard for service providers and provides guidance on when they should be rolling out new Wi-Fi 6-enabled equipment to their subscribers.

Also known as the high-efficiency wireless (HEW) standard, Wi-Fi 6 focuses on improving Wi-Fi efficiency, capacity, and performance, especially in the kinds of dense environments we encounter today. Think football stadiums, university campuses, and our rapidly evolving connected homes.

So what new features does Wi-Fi 6 have in store for us? The white paper has all the details, of course, but here’s a quick summary of some of the most exciting new features:

  • Faster speeds: While the focus is on efficiency, the new release also provides up to a fourfold increase in peak speeds.
  • Better performance in dense environments: Wi-Fi 6 includes several features that improve performance in dense Wi-Fi environments, including BSS Coloring and OFDMA.
  • Support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands: Unlike 802.11ac, which only supports the 5GHz band, the new standard supports both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and is also backwards compatible with all previous releases of the standard (802.11a/b/g/n/ac).
  • Improved outdoor performance: Wi-Fi 6 increases the guard interval and makes subcarrier spacing four times narrower, which provides higher spectral efficiency and allows for transmission over longer distances.
  • Reduced power consumption: A new feature called Target Wait Time (TWT) makes it possible for devices to remain powered off when they are not transmitting data. This is especially important for IoT devices that transmit data infrequently.
  • Downlink and uplink OFDMA: OFDMA stands for orthogonal frequency-division multiple access. OFDMA is an important new feature that enables multiple users with varying bandwidth needs to be served by the access point simultaneously on both the downlink and the uplink.

Download your free copy of the new Wi-Fi 6 white paper today to get the full story on all the new features and improvements and find out when you should be upgrading your subscribers to Wi-Fi 6-enabled gateways.