Wi-Fi 6 Overview Updated March 18, 2020

Wi-Fi 6

The newest Wi-Fi standard

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Nine 'Wi-Fi 6' stories

October 2018 - March 2020


What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the marketing name given to the 802.11ax technology from the IEEE. It’s the newest generation of Wi-Fi that is optimized for mobile devices, capacity, and IoT (internet of Things).

802.11ac brought immense speed increases to our Wi-Fi networks. For the first time, we were getting wired networking type speeds over Wi-Fi. It has served us extremely well. I can’t remember the last time I actually plugged into a wired ethernet connection. A well designed 802.11ac network blew away anything that 802.11n could offer.

However, 802.11ac was conceived before the rapid growth of mobile devices. While it worked very well with smartphones and tablets, there was a lot still to be done, and Wi-Fi 6 will address some key issues with the wireless technology.

Wi-Fi 6 addresses some key problems with Wi-Fi connections. One of the main ones is increasing capacity for dense environments. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection in your home is relatively easy. Unless you live in a multi-dwelling unit, it’s really one thing you can’t really screw up.

Designing Wi-Fi for the enterprise is entirely another process. You have to be concerned with co-channel interference, roaming, and other complicated issues. One of the biggest challenges at the moment is designing for capacity. As I write this article, I am at a hotel with my family. Between all five of us, we have eight Wi-Fi enabled devices. If you multiply this out by every guest in a hotel, you get a picture of capacity concerns. So how does Wi-Fi 6 address capacity?

OFDMA is one of the key pieces of technology in Wi-Fi 6. A 20 MHz channel can be partitioned into as many as nine smaller channels in Wi-Fi 6. Using OFDMA, an access point could simultaneously transmit small frames to nine 802.11ax enabled clients. One thing to remember as well is that Wi-Fi 6 brings back 2.4 GHz support. 802.11ac was 5 GHz only. While I do prefer the 5 GHz band (a minimum of 19 non-overlapping channels vs 3 for 2.4 GHz), 2.4 GHz is still popular due to its low cost and battery life.

What Apple products support Wi-Fi 6?

Currently, the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max are the only Apple products to support 802.11ax. It’s expected that future iPads and Macs will include support for it.

What are the best Wi-Fi 6 routers for the home?

9to5Mac has reviewed a number of 802.11ax routers. While they all have their benefits and weaknesses, AmpliFi Alien and Linksys Velop are the best ones on the market at the moment. Routers from Eero and Google/Nest do not support it currently. Your Wi-Fi 6 devices will work with them perfectly fine, though.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Wi-Fi 6 Stories March 18

New iPad Pro comes with Wi-Fi 6 support, unlike recent MacBook updates

We’re learning more about the iPad Pro after the 2020 refresh debuted today, like its new Magic Keyboard with trackpad being backward compatible. Another neat tidbit is that the 2020 iPad Pro includes Wi-Fi 6 support.

Wi-Fi 6 Stories March 14

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Jamf, the standard for Apple in the enterprise. Learn more at Jamf.com/9to5mac.

Over the past few weeks, I have been looking at how forward-thinking Apple-focused organizations should be moving their overall operations to “the cloud” or software-as-a-service solutions. In previous weeks, we looked at email, web hosting, network security, and more. This week, I am going to look at how cloud networking has revolutionized how IT departments should be managing their core infrastructure. I will also discuss cloud networking, device management, and endpoint security. expand full story

Wi-Fi 6 Stories December 31, 2019

AmpliFi launches Wi-Fi 6 Alien mesh router and meshpoint bundle

AmpliFi launched its first Wi-Fi 6 router last month, but it was only sold as single units. Now AmpliFi is offering an Alien bundle that includes the primary router with touchscreen and a meshpoint. The new option saves users $60 getting set up with two Aliens.

Wi-Fi 6 Stories October 29, 2019

Linksys is out today with its latest router that brings WiFi 6 (802.11ax) to its Velop mesh system. The new Velop WiFi 6 is capable of speeds up to 5.3Gbps, has a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, covers homes up to 6,000 sq. ft., and comes in one- or two-packs.

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Wi-Fi 6 Stories October 5, 2019

If you look at Apple’s device lineup over the past few years, the vast majority of them do not have ethernet ports. Wi-Fi has grown across retail centers, sports stadium, universities, K–12 schools, and business centers. One of the major drivers behind the growth of Wi-Fi is Apple’s products.

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Wi-Fi 6 Stories September 16, 2019

Wi-Fi 6 officially launches today, ahead of iPhone 11 availability on Friday

Wi-Fi 6 officially launches today, a few days ahead of availability of the iPhone 11, which supports the new, faster standard…

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