New Wi-Fi 6 Certification is Officially Released, Up to 3x Faster Than 802.11ac

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Wi-Fi Alliance officially introduced the new Wi-Fi Standard IEEE 802.11ax—more simply known as Wi-Fi 6—on Monday, September 14th, 2019. The new standard was first revealed in October of 2018.

With Wi-Fi 6 introduced, companies are now free to have their Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices officially certified under the new standard.

But what does Wi-Fi 6 mean for the rest of us?

Wi-Fi Performance Improvements

Wi-Fi 6 comes with serious performance upgrades that set it apart from previous certification levels—especially regarding high traffic Wi-Fi access points.

1024 QAM Support

Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) while Wi-Fi 5 supported 256 QAM. This upgrade provides 10 bits per symbol instead of the usual 8, which means Wi-Fi 6 devices can deliver more data efficiently.

OFDMA

Wi-Fi 6 uses a mechanism called Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which is a channel sharing mechanism that makes it much easier to handle large amounts of traffic. With OFDMA, we see serious improvements in busy places where many people are using one Wi-Fi access point—think airports, hotels, other public Wi-Fi hotspots.

There's a lot going on with the new standard; I highly suggest reviewing the official release by Wi-Fi Alliance for a detailed look at the spec requirements.

Early Adopters

(Image credit: Wi-Fi Alliance)

Businesses started gearing up for the Wi-Fi 6 release in late 2018. Now that IEEE 802.11ax is official, they're lining up to get their products officially certified. Keep an eye out for the new Wi-Fi 6 certification going forward.

Samsung revealed (opens in new tab) the Galaxy Note 10 as the first official Wi-Fi 6 certified smartphone on Monday, September 16th. It's the first in a line of many to meet the new communication standard, including the upcoming iPhone 11—confirmed by Apple (opens in new tab) to be Wi-Fi 6 compatible.

Leading figures in the router industry prepared for the new Wi-Fi 6 certification with a series of compatible devices, as well. You can expect more products from names like Asus (opens in new tab) and Netgear (opens in new tab) over the coming months as the new Wi-Fi standard takes root.

First Wi-Fi 6 Certified Products

Here's a quick look at the first products officially designated with the Wi-Fi 6 certification. Apart from the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, these devices comprised the testbed for the new certification.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
First Official Wi-Fi 6 Certified Products
Broadcom BCM43698
Broadcom BCM43684
Cypress CYW 89650 Auto-Grade Wi-Fi 6 Certified
Intel Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) AX200 (for PCs)
Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV600 Series (for routers and gateways)
Marvell 88W9064 (4x4) Wi-Fi 6 Dual-Band STA
Marvell 88W9064 (4x4) + 88W9068 (8x8) Wi-Fi 6 Concurrent Dual-Band AP
Qualcomm Networking Pro 1200 Platform
Qualcomm FastConnect 6800 Wi-Fi 6 Mobile Connectivity Subsystem
Ruckus R750 Wi-Fi 6 Access Point
Samsung Galaxy Note 10

Wi-Fi 6 is the new standard for everything that uses Wi-Fi—from phones and tablets to routers and desktops. As the new standard becomes commonplace, Wi-Fi connectivity will be faster and more efficient, especially in areas with high traffic.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.