A Wi-Fi overview of Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6

As we’re starting to see more Wi-Fi 6 capable devices hit the market, the big question of whether to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 is growing.

Here, we take a look at how Wi-Fi 6 is performing compared to Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 and provide a Wi-Fi overview to help you understand which Wi-Fi generation is best for your wireless network.

Ieee website homepage

Naming changes

Firstly, it’s vital to understand that the naming schemes of Wi-Fi have recently changed.

The initial IEEE naming scheme is tough to get used to. In an effort to make it easier to understand, the Wi-Fi Alliance has come up with simpler names.

Under its new naming convention, the alliance calls 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6. 802.11ac is now Wi-Fi 5, and 802.11n is Wi-Fi 4. The idea is to make matching endpoint and router capabilities a simpler matter for the rank-and-file user of Wi-Fi technology.

Smartphone with new wifi 6 on the screen

What are Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) was finalised in 2013, and you will find it in every major smartphone, laptop and desktop computer and smart television.

By comparison, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest generation of Wi-Fi. Building off the Wi-Fi 5 standard for wireless network transmissions, Wi-Fi 6 promises faster throughput speeds, less bandwidth congestion and Wi-Fi spectrum efficiency.

The biggest difference between the two Wi-Fi standards is the use of orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) in Wi-Fi 6, compared to orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) in Wi-Fi 5.

OFDMA is essentially a multiple-user version of OFDM by segregating the spectrum by frequency, allowing for more densely-packet channels through channel sharing, making it possible to increase the capacity and reduce latency during high demand on a Wi-Fi 6 access point (AP) compared to a Wi-Fi 5 AP.

Wi-Fi 6 delivers faster speeds than the previous two generations of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6 is capable of a maximum throughput speed of 9.6 Gbps, compared to 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5 and 600Mbps on Wi-Fi 4.

Wi-Fi 6 was introduced in part to address the explosion of IoT devices. A Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 4 enabled router can only communicate with a certain number of devices at once, so the more bandwidth hungry devices you have, the slower your network will work.

This is where Wi-Fi 6 really sets itself apart. Thanks to new technologies, Wi-Fi 6 enables routers to communicate simultaneously with more devices more efficiently, creating faster connections overall.

Man hand using a smartphone with new wifi 6

What does this all mean?

While a Wi-Fi 6 enabled device connected to a Wi-Fi 6 enabled router might only offer slightly faster speeds than Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 devices will be more likely to maintain top speeds even in busier environments.

With more of us than ever working remotely, Wi-Fi 6 could make the difference, with one child completing online learning, another streaming Netflix, and a whole lot of gadgets (smart thermostat, light switches, Alexa and more) all vying for that same internet connection.

But Wi-Fi 6 is also primed to help businesses support the exponential growth of internet traffic as more and more Internet of Things (IoT) devices get connected.

Adopting fast-speed internet technology will enable businesses to collect extensive data and ultimately improve customer experiences.

This means it’s designed to support any modern business with multiple users who need plenty of bandwidth to take advantage of video streaming, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) applications.

Internet Network Connection

The benefits of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 is designed to improve the user experience by changing the way Wi-Fi networks work, and it uses new technologies to help mitigate the issues that come with putting dozens of Wi-Fi devices on a single network. Wi-Fi 6 adds significantly higher capacity and better coverage and reduces congestion.

Wi-Fi 6 performs better with many connected devices

Wi-Fi 6 improves the network data cabling when multiple devices are connected, offering better high-density performance. Wi-Fi 6 Access Points (APs) use a variety of technologies to prevent interference between devices and transmit packets more efficiently.

Wi-Fi 6 enables more concurrent users

Wi-Fi 6 allows you to take advantage of up to a four-fold increase in users from a single AP. Even if the number of users remains the same in your environment, more data throughput will be achieved by those users.

Wi-Fi 6 improves security

Wi-Fi 6 is designed to be part of a secure corporate LAN with better security using the latest WPA3 Wi-Fi security. As such, it sits behind edge security equipment, protecting it from untrusted networks. Aruba is proud to be part of OSA’s select group of world-class vendors, committed to delivering smarter solutions for experience-driven networking. Learn more about Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 reference.

At OSA, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide our customers with unrivalled reliability and high-quality network solutions.

With our partnerships with vendors who offer real-time bandwidth-hungry services, our customers can stay one step ahead of the digital game any time… every time.

Contact us today and discover how you can start doing more with Wi-Fi 6.

Read More Blogs


Get in touch for
a powerful
network solution