According to a recent Gizmodo article, the Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of wifi technology, will be available sometime in 2019. There hasn’t been a meaningful upgrade in wifi technology since 2014, and the latest version promises some extreme improvements to modern wifi technology.
The Wi-Fi 6 will feature an increase of at least four times current wifi speeds, though some labs and trade show demonstrations have been able to reach as high as 11 times the megabits per second (mbps) rate of today’s systems.
The Wi-Fi 6 will also have greater spectrum efficiency than it does today. If one thinks of wifi data rates like a highway, the mbps rate is the speed limit, while the spectrum efficiency is the number of lanes available. This spectrum efficiency will apply to both the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band of dual-band routers, allowing for less interference while also creating better penetration of solid objects. Current wifi technology only allows the access point to communicate with one device on one channel at a time, but the Wi-Fi 6 will be able to divide a wireless channel into a number of sub-channels, which will in turn allow the wifi access point to communicate with a number of devices at the same time. This will create superior performance in crowded areas, allowing consumers to post that selfie from the Super Bowl easier and faster, or to have twenty different devices communicating with your office router without stalling the entire system.
Improved efficiency will also have the side benefit of increasing battery life by decreasing the device’s power draw. Users should be able to get longer target waking hours out of their phones, computers, and other devices.
For film and video aficionados, Wi-Fi 6 will easily allow for 8K video streaming, a far superior performance over today’s technology, which often struggles to stream the latest 4K video technology.
The Wi-Fi 6 will feature much simpler branding and nomenclature than its predecessors, according to How To Geek. While previous versions of wi-fi have been named according to the 802.11x IEEE classification, the newest version will simply be known as Wi-Fi 6. Additionally, the last two versions of wifi technology will be retroactively branded as Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5. While each version will still retain its classification with the IEEE (International Electric and Electronic Engineers), this re-branding will make consumer determination much simpler. Consumers will now be able to simply look for the “Wi-Fi 6” logo on products to know if that product is compatible with the latest system. Additionally, the electronic icon on mobile devices will now also show the wifi version number embedded in the wifi icon, allowing users to choose the best access points available.
All of these changes inspire excitement in the possibilities for future global communications, and the future is now.