What’s Different About Wi-Fi 6?

Wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to Wi-Fi 6? If you’re questioning what the differences are and whether it’s worth making hardware device changes, then read on.

The next generation of wireless standard is here (actually, it’s been here since the end of 2019). Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax has the following main differences:

  • It’s faster
  • It provides better performance in congested areas (think anything from your own device-packed home, to stadiums)

We know it informally as Wi-Fi 6 – Wi-Fi versions have now been assigned simple numbers to replace the more complicated code-like names that we saw before.

What are the Wi-Fi Version Numbers?

The new Wi-Fi version numbers are much more user friendly, but for the fellow geeks among us, here are what the new version numbers correspond to, plus (whilst not being officially branded) what all of the old versions would have been.

Wi-Fi 1 – 802.11b (released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 2 – 802.11a (also released in 1999)

Wi-Fi 3 – 802.11g (released in 2003)

Wi-Fi 4 – 802.11n (released in 2009)

Wi-Fi 5 – 802.11ac (released in 2014)

Wi-Fi 6 – 802.11ax (released in 2019)

You might start to see these newer version numbers appear in software when connecting your smartphone, tablet or laptop, to enable you to see which Wi-Fi networks are newer and faster. This is what the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that they would like to be seeing across networks. It’s worth noting that it isn’t mandatory for manufacturers to label their products with Wi-Fi 6 instead of 802.11ax, but we’re hopeful that most will. Re-naming products from 802.11ac to Wi-Fi 5 might be another matter though!

Wi-Fi That’s Faster

As with most technological advances, the latest development in Wi-Fi standard is faster in terms of data transfer speeds. In comparison to Wi-Fi 5, a Wi-Fi 6 router would provide one device with up to 40% higher speeds.

What Makes Wi-Fi 6 Faster?

The reason Wi-Fi 6 can achieve such faster speeds is due to more efficient data coding which thus results in higher throughput. Basically, the radio waves are packed with more data. With each Wi-Fi standard, the ability for the chips to encode and decode the data gets more powerful, hence why Wi-Fi 6 is faster than Wi-Fi 5, and can handle extra work.

You may be aware that we have 2 frequenceis used for networks – 5GHz and 2.4GHz. 5GHz is more commonly used as it is subject to less interference, however 2.4GHz is still a good option for being able to penetrate solid objects. Wi-Fi 6, the new standard, even increases speeds on these 2.4GHz networks.

How Will Wi-Fi 6 Affect the Battery Life on my Device?

Many Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices will have a new ‘target wake time’ feature. This means that an access point can define a specific set of times when devices connected to the internet need to have access to the wireless network. This new efficiency should mean that your Wi-Fi enables devices should have a longer battery life.

Let’s take your smartphone, for example. When the AP is talking to your phone, it can tell it when to put it’s Wi-Fi radio to sleep and when to wave it up to receive the next transmission. Because your device can spend more time in sleep mode, you should find your battery lasts longer.

It also means that devices that connect via Wi-Fi with lower power can benefit from longer battery life.

Wi-Fi That Performs Better in Crowded Areas

We know there hasn’t been much opportunity for it as late, but picture trying to get online at an airport, hotel or live event at a stadium. When an area is as congested with devices as these, you can suffer with slow Wi-Fi and even struggle to connect.

Wi-Fi 6 tackles just this problem. With new technology, superior to previous Wi-Fi standards, it’s purported that Wi-Fi 6 will improve the average speed of each user by at least 4 times. Even in crowded areas with lots of devices.

This isn’t just something that will benefit you when out in public places – It could be a huge help in your home as well. If you have a large family all with multiple devices connected to Wi-Fi, then this could be just the solution to stop the slow-down. Or perhaps if you live in a densely populated place, like a block of flats.

How Does Wi-Fi 6 Tackle Congestion from Multiple Devices?

There are various features that help Wi-Fi 6 better tackle the problem of heavily crowded networks. Just knowing that a Wi-Fi 6 device connected to a Wi-Fi 6 access point will work better may well be enough for you!

For those who want all the geeky details, here’s what’s going on to make Wi-Fi 6 better for networks with multiple or many devices.

Wi-Fi 6 technology is able to create a large number of sub-channels within one wireless channel. Date intended for each individual device can be carried by each sub-channel. This technology is called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). Essentially this means that a Wi-Fi 6 enabled access point can talk to more devices at once.

Wi-Fi 6 also has improved MultipleIn/Multiple Out (MIMO). Again, this lets the access point talk to multiple devices at once through multiple antennas. The difference between this and Wi-Fi 5, is that while the latter enabled an access point to talk to multiple devices at the same time, it couldn’t allow the devices to respond at the same time, thus slowing things down. The new improved MIMO on Wi-Fi 6 is a multi-user version (MU-MIMO) which enables devices to respond to the access point at the same time.

Let’s look at another potential scenario. Wireless access points that are locating close to one another may transmit on the same channel. This means that the radio needs to listen and wait for a clear signal before it can reply. Wi-Fi 6 uses spatial frequency re-use which allows you to configure Wi-Fi 6 wireless access points with different Basic Service Set (BSS) colours, which consists of a number between 0 and 7. The device can then determine whether a particular channel has a weaker signal, and thus ignore it and transmit without waiting. This is another way in which Wi-Fi 6 will improve wireless performance in congested areas.

These are just a couple of the improvements to be seen from the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. There are many more, smaller enhancements which will improve the speed and performance with Wi-Fi 6.

How Do I Know If Something has Wi-Fi 6?

Luckily, thanks to this handy article, you’re now familiar with all the technical names of the different Wi-Fi standards, so you’ll know exactly what to look for. Right? Don’t panic! We’re only kidding. Thanks to the new versions, it’ll be easy for you to find devices that are certified Wi-Fi 6 (rather than hunting around for 802.11ax!). Device manufacturers are able to say whether their product is Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5.

You may also start to see a logo saying ‘Wi-Fi 6 Certified’ on relevant devices. This means that the product has gone through the Wi-Fi Alliance’s certification process. The old Wi-Fi Certified logo simply told you it was Wi-Fi Certified, rather than what generation of Wi-Fi a product was. The new logo will make it clear if it is Wi-Fi 6. So there will be no need for trawling through product specifications!

When Can I Get Wi-Fi 6 Enabled Devices?

The new Wi-Fi 6 standard was finalised in 2019, with hardware being released in the latter part of the same year and into 2020. So you should be seeing Wi-Fi 6 enabled products in the market now. It’s shouldn’t be something you need to put too much thought into – As new routers, smartphones, tables and laptops are released into the market, they will just start to come with this new Wi-Fi 6 technology.

It’s worth remembering that to benefit from the improvements on the new Wi-Fi 6 standard, you need both the sender and receiver devices to support this latest generation of Wi-Fi 6. Whatever the connection, it will only operate in the mode that your device supports. For example, you may have a Wi-Fi 6 enabled router, a Wi-Fi 6 enabled smartphone, but a laptop that only supports Wi-Fi 5. You’ll see the advantages of Wi-Fi 6 on your smartphone, but the laptop will only work at Wi-Fi 5 capacity.

Could 4G Broadband Be The Answer to Threat of BT Strike?
Working-From-Home Fears Due To BT Strike

For the first time since 1987, BT are facing nationwide industrial action due to a ballot regarding job cuts and site closures. The Communication Workers Union is due to hold a ballot soon, which could have an enormous impact on the network if a yes vote is returned.

Through this ongoing pandemic, effective internet has kept us connected with colleagues as well as loved ones. It’s held businesses together through the rise of working from home, and it’s kept part of the economy going throughout lockdown restrictions. As a nation, we’ve realised how vital a good internet connection is.

Most of the UK’s broadband network consists of BT, EE and Openreach, serving millions of homes across the nation. If, in late Spring, a strike goes ahead this could mean big problems for people who are working from home and reliant on their broadband connection.

Assuredly, they will only strike if they feel they absolutely must – They don’t want to disrupt services across the country to people’s internet unless they feel they have no other choice to protect their workers and service.

What does the possible BT strike mean for those working from home?

Nationwide industrial action by BT staff could have a huge effect on those working from home, who are relying on a dependable internet connection. Is there anything worse than trying to get some work done with a slow internet connection, or a meeting via video call dropping out every 2 minutes?

The pandemic and lockdown restrictions has meant that almost 50% of the working population have been working from home during the pandemic (ONS).

These workers are relying on their home broadband connection to be able to continue doing their jobs.

As we’ve seen from the challenges of home-learning and home-working, those who are currently based at home need a connection that can support both upload and download speeds in order to partake in video conference calls like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

Not only is home internet needed more than ever, but the quality of the connection is also more vital then it has been previously.

What alternatives to Wi-Fi would be unaffected by a BT strike?

If you are worried that your home internet connection could be affected by the posed threat of BT industrial action, there are thankfully alternative methods of getting internet into your home.

We have seen an influx of 4G broadband installations and enquiries. Whilst these have mostly been from areas in rural Hampshire where standard internet connections are unreliable and slow, 4G broadband is an excellent way of backing up your existing internet connection.

Why 4G broadband?

4G broadband is the idea solution to patchy, unreliable Openreach internet connections. It can also be an excellent back-up solution should your standard Wi-Fi connection go down or become unavailable.

4G signal is received via an external 4G antenna and emitted into your home through a 4G router using a sim based data plan.

Here at Geekabit, we have a 4G testing pole so that we can accurately estimate 4G internet speeds in your location before installing a new antenna and router.

How could 4G broadband help if my internet is affected by BT industrial action?

Our expert Wi-Fi engineers are skilled in providing 4G broadband services for hire. We are experienced in providing an ideal internet solution for scenarios such as building sites, TV filming and temporary cabins. It’s also a great interim option for people moving house and between service providers when they first move in to their new home.

This makes 4G broadband the perfect alternative if your internet was to be affected and your home-working situation compromised.

If you would like more information on our 4G broadband hire options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi experts here.

If you are already experiencing internet problems in a rural area, then 4G broadband may well be the answer. You may be interested in previous blogs we’ve written regarding this – Or for more information, please see our website.

 

You can read more details on the threat of BT industrial action via The Guardian.

Are My Wi-Fi Issues Caused by Wi-Fi Interference?

Since 1997, when Wi-Fi emerged into the consumer world, it’s become integral to everyday life. For many it’s a vital way of staying connected with friends, family and colleagues – At home, at work and even out and about.

We tend to take it a bit for granted, when in actual fact we probably feel like we couldn’t live without it – Especially during 2020! And like so many things – We really only notice how much we depend on it when it’s not there. Much like when there is a power cut and all the lights go out – When Wi-Fi isn’t working properly, we really feel it’s absence.

Is there anything quite as frustrating as dodgy Wi-Fi?

Technology wouldn’t be technology without its issues, and Wi-Fi is no exception. So what can cause Wi-Fi problems? One of the biggest issues to affect how successful and reliable a Wi-Fi connection is, is Wi-Fi interference. In this blog we’re going to be looking at how you might go about detecting whether your Wi-Fi woe is an interference issue

How do I know if my Wi-Fi issue is due to Wi-Fi interference?

Here are a couple of problems you may experience if you are having trouble with Wi-Fi interference.

 

  • Trouble with signal strength, and having low signal despite being in close proximity to a Wi-Fi broadcast device like a router
  • You have no connectivity issues when using a wired connection, but have a considerably slower connection when connecting using Wi-Fi
  • Trying to transfer files between computers using Wi-Fi, and finding it very slow
  • Being unable to pair devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth despite being in close proximity to the receiver
  • Your Wi-Fi connection Intermittently dropping out

 

If you are experiencing one or more of these annoying Wi-Fi issues, then it’s quite possible that something is causing interference with your Wi-Fi.

There are two main types of Wi-Fi Interference – Physical and Frequency. We’ll be covering some examples of each of these in next weeks blog. Check back then to see how you can identify what may be causing your Wi-Fi interference issue, and how you can go about fixing it.

If you require any Wi-Fi help in the meantime, then please don’t hesitate to give our Wi-Fi experts a call. We’re still working under the current government guidelines, and mainly operating out of Hampshire and London. Don’t let dodgy Wi-Fi be the reason you can’t find a connection.

WiFi Faces Technical Challenges

The emerging wireless standard promises better WiFi but the promise introduces significant complexity.

IEEE 802.11 standards (g, a, n, ac) delivered WiFi performance improvements out of the box. They focused on progressively increasing the data rate over the wireless link. All that was needed to take advantage of any new standard, was a radio chipset that incorporated the new radio and MAC enhancements.

The situation is different for the upcoming 802.11ax standard. The focus of 802.11ax is not on increasing the data rate but on improving the overall wireless network performance. This introduces significant new radio and MAC enhancements such as OFDMA and BSS colouring.

Ranking high among the issues is a transmission-scheduling mechanism. The downlink transmission scheduling in WiFi has been a simple FIFO (First In First Out) system. 802.11e introduced a small variation regarding the maintenance of multiple transmission queues for different priority classes.

However, 802.11ax introduces significant complexity in wireless transmission scheduling due to its OFDMA and MU-MIMO enhancements.

  •  With MU-MIMO, there is now an option to transmit a single wireless frame to a single client or concurrently transmit different wireless frames to multiple clients using multi-user beamforming.
  • With OFDMA, there is now an option to transmit a single wireless frame to single client using traditional OFDM or concurrently transmit different wireless frames to multiple clients using subsets of channel width.
  • 802.11ax introduces multi-user transmission in uplink direction too. The AP needs to schedule multiple clients for concurrent uplink transmissions according to their requirements.

These methods need to take into account service requirements of traffic flows, radio conditions on the channel, client capabilities and client state feedbacks. It is no easy feat to come up with scheduling mechanisms that will work in most practical scenarios with relative ease of configuration and fine tuning.

Siklu EtherHaul-2X00 Series

1 Gbps connectivity between two sites is sometimes necessary and an E-band set of radios that work within a 70-80 Ghz frequency is a viable solution.  The benefits of these radios are vast and varied.  Being relatively cheap makes them popular and this coupled with the fact that they are easy to deploy and manage makes them a Wi-Fi winner.

Siklu have created a solution in an E-band set of radios that will provide 2 Gbps connectivity over up to 7kms.  This wider channel width solution is able to work at lower modulations which makes it a great option compared to others on the market.  The EH -2X00 delivers 2Gbps full duplex point to point wireless connectivity making it robust and futureproof.

Being small in size, the tiny footprint allows easy site acquisition and an easy installation.  Moreover, the E-band spectrum is uncongested and offers a quick licensing process compared to other options.  Spectrum protection is maintained whist the cost is still relatively cheap.

The EH-2X00 series offers a great price per MB but alongside this its lower installation costs make it unbeatable in price.  The new model is based on an evolved version of a Siklu’s field proven platform making it extremely reliable.  This reliability cuts the cost of site visits which contributes to its exceptional value for money.

With 16 non-overlapping channels available to it, the EH-2X00 is able to deploy dense networks over greater distances and offers a great solution for those looking for 1Gbps between 2 sites.