Wi-Fi 6 Overview Updated December 5, 2020

Wi-Fi 6

The newest Wi-Fi standard

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12 'Wi-Fi 6' stories

October 2018 - June 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, all iPhone 11 and new iPhones support it. The iPad Air and iPad Pro also do. The only Mac computers that support it are the Apple Silicon Macs.

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.

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Wi-Fi 6 Stories June 16, 2020

First announced back at CES in January, Linksys has expanded its WiFi 6 offerings today with the announcement of the MAX-STREAM AX1800 Mesh WiFi 6 Router. It offers up to 1,700 square feet of coverage, speeds up to 1.8Gbps, and compatibility with other Linksys Velop mesh routers. Importantly it shares WiFi 6 compatibility with Apple’s new iPhones and iPads.

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Wi-Fi 6 Stories May 28, 2020

Qualcomm has announced its next-gen wireless chips that support the new Wi-Fi 6E standard. The “E” in Wi-Fi 6E stands for “extended” and supported devices will be able to operate on the newly opened 6GHz spectrum that should offer less network congestion and faster and more dependable connections.

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Wi-Fi 6 Stories April 15, 2020

Apple has officially launched the new iPhone SE today and we’ve got a look at the full specs of the new device. Even though the 2020 iPhone SE sits as the most affordable smartphone in Apple’s lineup it packs some impressive features and hardware including Wi-Fi 6 and Express Cards support.

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Wi-Fi 6 Stories March 18, 2020

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, 2020

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.

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