WiFi 6: what is the latest generation of wireless network worth?

The demand for wireless connections is growing exponentially. In a home, the number of devices connected to the Internet also continues to increase. An evolution to which the new wireless connection standard is supposed to respond: Wi-Fi 6.

Wi-Fi 6: what is it ?

WiFi 6 (802.11 ax) is the latest generation of wireless connection. It appeared in 2019. This development, which follows Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 ac), increases the flow by 40% compared to the previous standard, available since 2014. Enough to boost Internet debits at home, whose performance often remains far below the actual capacity of the connection, as you can see on our flow test. This new, smarter generation of Wi-Fi also offers better performance in terms of connectivity but also energy savings on your devices.

Wi-Fi standards

In addition to its performance, the 6th generation of wireless network is also synonymous with novelty with the simplification of its nomenclature by Wi-Fi Alliance, the American association which owns the Wi-Fi brand and which performs certification tests. So far, Wi-Fi standards have been expressed with a sequence of numbers 802.11 and two letters. Thus, the new standard 802.11 ax becomes Wi-Fi 6 and its predecessor Wi-Fi 802.11 ac is now called Wi-Fi 5. Here is a summary table of the different Wi-Fi standards since its introduction:

Wi-Fi name Wi-Fi standard Launch date

Good to know: the Wi-Fi network allows you to connect several devices (computer, smartphone, network printer, tablet, etc.) to the wireless Internet. Very practical, this technology uses radio waves to disseminate information on the internet and connect all your compatible equipment with the Internet. When you search the Internet from your computer connected to the Wi-Fi network, your computer’s wireless network adapter converts information to a radio signal. This signal is then transmitted, thanks to your Wi-Fi antenna, to your internet box. It will then decode the radio signal received and send the requested information to the Internet via its Ethernet connection.

However, even if Wi-Fi waves have the capacity to transmit information at an increasingly important flow rate, thanks to the evolution of standards, this mode of connection is still limited in terms of range, that is to say – say in the coverage radius. The new Wi-Fi 6 version will, among other things, bring improvements to this aspect !

What are the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 ?

The new Wi-Fi 6 standard first allows for a considerable improvement in flow rates. This latest evolution of the Wi-Fi standard displays a maximum theoretical connection flow of 10 Gb / s. More specifically, Wi-Fi 6 allows a 40% increase in flow compared to its predecessor, thanks to a higher data transfer and more powerful processors. In practice, no one will benefit from such performances. However, the average speed of connections is well boosted with this standard.

This new generation of wireless network also has an optimized management capacity for congested Wi-Fi networks. Thanks to the association of OFDMA and Mu-MIMO technologies, Wi-Fi 6 is more efficient and the flow is multiplied by 4 in dense areas, where many devices are connected (as in airports, stadiums, shopping centers …). With the current versions, the Wi-Fi network is indeed very often slow in public places, when many devices are connected and this because of congestion.

The Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology divides the Wi-Fi channel when communicating with multiple devices. Mu-MIMO (MIMO – Multiple-In Multiple-Out) technology allows all devices connected to Wi-Fi to communicate with the router simultaneously. To sum up, Wi-Fi 6 can manage a large number of connected devices at the same time without slowing performance.

Another advantage is that Wi-Fi 6 is also more ecological by boosting the life of the battery of connected devices. This new standard indeed improves the autonomy of connected devices (smartphone, tablet, etc.) thanks to the Target Wake Time (TWT) function. Concretely, this intelligent Wi-Fi allows you to indicate to your devices when to put their Wi-Fi on standby, in order to save their battery.

Apart from a faster flow offered compared to the Wi-Fi 5 standard, the new generation of wireless network, Wi-Fi 6 therefore also improves efficiency and connection capacity. In addition, the difference in Wi-Fi 6 compared to the previous standard is also played on a maximized range of the latter, since it optimizes the use of the 2.4 GHz band. Consequence: with Wi-Fi 6, there is better coverage in Wi-Fi of the premises (35 meters).

Important clarification: to benefit from the advantages of this new standard, you must have a Wi-Fi 6 compatible device. Which is not the case, far from it, of all smartphones, tablets and other computers.

Which boxes are compatible with Wi-Fi 6 ?

The Wi-Fi 6 standard is very recent and is just beginning to be deployed to the general public. Few devices on the market are available today with this new wireless network technology. Nevertheless, the SFR Box 8 of the operator with the red square, presented in July 2019 allows to take advantage of the latest Wi-Fi standard. As well as the last box launched by Bouygues Telecom in January 2020, the Bbox fiber Wi-Fi 6, which equips the Bbox Ultym offer. For its part, Orange launched a Wi-Fi 6 (€ 10) repeater on the market in 2021, which allows Livebox Up customers to switch Orange’s new Livebox 5 to the new Wi-Fi standard. Finally, RED, the low-cost subsidiary of SFR also offers Wi-Fi as an option with its RED box.

However, this new wireless network standard was not adopted by Free on the Freebox Pop, launched in the summer of 2020. At the time, the operator justified this absence, in particular by the relatively small number of terminals compatible with the new wireless standard at the time of its launch. With perhaps also a little idea behind the head: wait for the next evolution of Wi-Fi 6, called Wi-Fi 6E. Another new standard, which promises a new leap in performance thanks to the operation of a additional frequency band, 6 GHz.

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