What is WiFi 6 Benefits and Drawbacks? Differences from WiFi 5

Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that enables connection to the Internet and Wi-Fi 6 is the newest standard, introduced in 2019, which provides high-speed and reliable connections than the previous standard available.

Upgrading your internet connection with Wi-Fi 6 can greatly enhance your Wi-Fi experience. In this article, I will explore the features, benefits, drawbacks, and differences of Wi-Fi6 from conventional Wi-Fi.

What is WiFi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the latest Wi-Fi standard, which came out in September 2019 and is also known as “wifi6” “IEEE 802.11ax” or “11ax“. It is the 6th generation of Wi-Fi standards, with the previous generations being 1st to 5th.

Wi-Fi6 is built around the idea of making the most out of limited resources. It offers better performance, higher data throughput, resistance against radio wave interference, blocking signals and improved power efficiency to make sure your internet experience is as fast and reliable as possible.

It also has compatibility with the old communication standard, so it can be used without problems on smartphones and computers that support Wi-Fi 5.

Differences from WiFi 5

The biggest difference between Wi-Fi 6 and conventional Wi-Fi is the communication speed. The maximum communication speed of Wi-Fi5 (11ac) is 6.9Gbps, while Wi-Fi6 is 9.6Gbps. The communication speed from Wi-Fi5 to Wi-Fi6 is about 1.4 times faster. Also, Wi-Fi 5 can only use 5 GHz, but Wi-Fi 6 can use both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz.

SpecificationWhen IntroducedOfficial NameSpeedFrequency
Wi-Fi 6January 2020IEEE802.11ax9.6Gbps2.4GHz/5GHz band
Wi-Fi 5December 2013IEEE802.11ac6.9Gbps5GHz band
Wi-Fi 4September 2009IEEE802.11n600Mbps2.4GHz/5GHz band

Beneficial Features of WiFi 6

1. Fast communication speed

With Wi-Fi 5 and earlier standards, there were cases where the Internet connection was slow while watching videos or playing games. Recent videos and games are becoming more and more high-definition and high-resolution, so a high-speed Internet environment is required.

Wi-Fi6 uses a technology called MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) that speeds up the communication speed, and it is about 1.4 times faster than the conventional Wi-Fi5. If you use Wi-Fi6, you will be less stressed when playing online games that require quick responses or watching high-quality images such as 8K and 4K.

2. Stable even when connected to multiple devices at the same time

Until now, there have been frequent cases of slow communication speeds when Wi-Fi is connected to multiple devices at the same time. The reason is that when Wi-Fi is connected to multiple terminals at the same time, communication is assigned to each device one after the other. This resulted in lags and slow connections.

Wi-Fi 6 is equipped with a technology called “Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)” and SR (Spatial Reuse). With these communication technologies, a single communication can transmit radio waves to multiple destinations at the same time, making it more resistant to congestion and enabling stable and smooth communication.

3. Longer range and better coverage

In general, devices that support Wi-Fi 6 are equipped with more antennas than those of Wi-Fi 5, so they can send radio waves further away and provide better coverage. This makes it possible to cover almost the entire building without having to install multiple routers.

Additionally, the download and upload speed is kept stable even when the distance between the device and router increases, making it ideal for large homes or office spaces.

4. Long battery life

The benefits of Wi-Fi6 are not limited to radio waves. Wi-Fi 6 uses “TWT (Target Wake Time)”, a technology that reduces battery consumption of connected terminals such as laptops and smartphones.

TWT adjusts the timing of data communication from the Wi-Fi base unit to the terminal, and puts the communication function of the terminal that does not need communication to sleep mode. This saves power consumption and makes the battery last longer.

However, in reality, there are still few devices that support TWT. In the future, with the spread of Wi-Fi 6, TWT compatible smartphones are expected to appear.

5. Leads to enhanced information security

Wi-Fi 6 is equipped with the latest security standard, WPA3 is the successor to WPA2, the previous security standard that was included earlier standards.

This makes it much more secure than previous Wi-Fi generations such as Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4. Furthermore, WPA3 is equipped with a technology that can safely authenticate multiple devices for one account, making it easier and more secure to manage a large number of devices on the same network.

Drawbacks of a Wi-Fi 6 router

So far, I have introduced the advantages of introducing Wi-Fi 6, but there are actually disadvantages. To use Wi-Fi 6, you need to prepare a compatible device. Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices are sold at a higher price than other standards.

For example, smartphones that support Wi-Fi 6 include the iPhone 11/12/13 series and iPhone SE (2nd generation). For Android, Galaxy S20/S10 series and Sharp’s AQUOS R5G. There are still few models that support smartphones, and only some models are relatively new, so they are sold at high prices.

Also in case of desktop/laptop, which have a longer life cycle than smartphones, there are still few models of motherboard that support Wi-Fi 6. Therefore, it is necessary to check in advance whether the device you purchase supports Wi-Fi 6.

What is often overlooked is the specification of the LAN cable that connects to the router. The communication speed of Wi-Fi 6 is about 10Gps , and the LAN cable must be compatible with it , so use a ethernet cable of Category 6A ( CAT.6A ) or higher , which has a communication speed of 10Gps .

On the other hand, PCs are characterized by having more compatible devices than smartphones. Wi-Fi 6 is expected to become even more popular in the future. As it becomes more popular, the number of compatible devices will increase, and it is expected that the price will gradually come down.

What is new Wi-Fi 6E?

From September 2022, a new communication standard called “Wi-Fi 6E” that supports the frequency of “6 GHz band” has also started. Conventionally, the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands have been used as Wi-Fi frequencies, but with the new availability of the 6GHz band, it will be easier to deal with inconsistent speeds between 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

For instance, if there are home appliances nearby and 2.4 GHz radio wave interference occurs, there are many devices using 5 GHz, and communication is unstable regardless of which one is used. In such a situation, another option is 6GHz, which enables stable communication that avoids crosstalk.

There are still few products that support the Wi-Fi 6E communication standard, and the number of Wi-Fi routers that can transmit radio waves and smartphones that can receive Wi-Fi 6E is limited.

For example, as of March 2023, Apple’s iPhone series does not support Wi-Fi 6E. It is a communication standard that is expected to be used in the future, so when choosing a Wi-Fi router, it may be a good idea to check one that supports Wi-Fi 6E.

Final Words

Wi-Fi 6 is the 6th generation communication standard, and refers to Wi-Fi that can use high-speed and stable Wi-Fi with low power consumption without extender and access point.

In addition, due to the higher cost of compatible devices and routers, upgrading existing equipment may be difficult. Also, even if you acquire a new router, the existing device that you are using may not be compatible. So it is important to consider whether the benefits of introducing Wi-Fi 6 outweigh the costs before proceeding. 

Is it better to use Wi-Fi6?

Since Wi-Fi6 will be the main Wi-Fi used in the future, it is expected that compatible devices such as smartphones, personal computers, and IoT home appliances will increase. It is recommended for those who want to enjoy high-quality images, those who enjoy online games, and those who use multiple terminals in their family and are concerned about slow connections.

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