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.
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.
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 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 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 and Netgear 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.
|First Official Wi-Fi 6 Certified Products
|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.
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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.