Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)

Wi-Fi 802.11ax is a wireless data transmission standard, better known as Wi-Fi Generation 6. The technical specification of the standard was approved in 2019, and in 2020 it will be massively integrated into modern laptops and flagship smartphones. Its key difference is the data transfer speed, which can reach 9.6 Gbit/s (in WiFi 5 - up to 4.8 Gbit/s). Also, WiFi 6 is initially compatible with MU-MIMO, meaning the router will transmit data simultaneously through multiple antennas, and the radio frequency can range from 1 to 7 GHz (including the 2.4 and 5 GHz that previous generations of WiFi used).

Technical differences

Wi-Fi ax (802.11ax) has the following differences from WiFi 4 and 5:
  1. Frequency spectrum split OFDMA. Means that the router will be able to automatically change the frequency of the radio signal (from the available spectrum) to obtain the most stable connection with the client. It completely eliminates the risk of multiple routers overlapping frequencies in the same room. That is, data is transmitted from multiple antennas at once. And the more of them - the higher the theoretical bandwidth of the radio channel. And it speeds up simultaneous data exchange between a large number of devices at once (response delay decreases). With 802.11n and 802.11ac MU-MIMO only worked as a software add-on (which put extra load on the router CPU). Dramatically improves the power efficiency of all WiFi 6 compatible devices. Especially important for smartphones and laptops (WiFi 6 draws 20% - 40% less standby power).
  2. Support for NAV and TWT. This can reduce the time it takes for the transmitter to wake up, resulting in lower ping values.
WiFi 4 and 5 work on a distributed data dispatch basis. That is, if 10 devices are connected to the router and each of them at the same time sends a request to it, the "answers" are sent in the order of "live". This contributes to the high ping value. WiFi 6 uses simultaneous transmission of data packets with access by "digital keys" (triggers). That is, each client takes the same "packet" and extracts from it the data that is specific to its device. This approach allowed us to reduce the response time for all devices down to 2 - 3 ms.

How to check if your device supports WiFi 6

The presence of WiFi 6 in the router can be found out from the label on its case. Also the supported WiFi standards are indicated in the product manual.
Check whether your PC or laptop supports WiFi 6 as follows:

  1. In Windows 10 open Settings, select "Network and Internet" and under WiFi click on "Hardware properties". This will show you all the technical information about the wireless module you have installed, including all the compatible frequencies.
  2. In Mac OS you open Settings. Under the "Network" select "802.x" and you will find all the technical information about the module.
Check your smartphone's WiFi 6 compatibility this way:
  1. Install AIDA from GooglePlay on Android. Under "Network" you will find information about the supported WiFi standards.
  2. All iPhones of the 11th generation and later support WiFi 6.

Application in practice

WiFi 802.11ax will completely get rid of the problem of overlapping radio signals in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, which causes corruption of transmitted data packets and increased response time. It is because of this in apartment buildings, even when using a powerful router the user's ping value varies in the range from 40 to 300 ms. Response time will not exceed 20ms when using WiFi 6.

And in 2021-2022 the Federal FCC plans to dedicate 6GHz frequency for 802.11ax. Its mass deployment in routers with WiFi 6 support will allow the consumer to use streaming services of ultraHD-video (8K resolution) augmented reality.

From our site you can download programs for creating, testing, hacking WiFi, diagnostics of 802.11ax wireless networks, and information about the problems that users might have with WiFi of this generation and how to solve them.