Having internet connectivity through WiFi is probably one of the most important things at your home or workplace. The ease of connecting to the internet from anywhere, no wires attached, is simply essential in the modern world. But WiFi has seen several iterations over the years. As the internet has become faster, WiFi routers have to keep up the pace to avoid any bottlenecks.
This brings us to the latest WiFi variant that manufacturers are now implementing in internet routers and different gadgets. Every next WiFi iteration has brought a significant speed boost and connection stability to the table.
But how significant WiFi 6 improvements are? Should you really upgrade your devices from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6? Are those Improvements even worth it at the end of the day? Let’s find out in this article.
What is WiFi 6?
Before we jump into the difference between the two WiFi variants, let’s learn about the new WiFi 6 first. WiFi 6 was announced by WiFi Alliance back in 2018. It’s a fresher, faster, and more reliable generation of WiFi for the latest devices.
This latest iteration of WiFi comes with its fair share of cutting-edge technology. It builds on WiFi 5’s already great framework (802.11ac) to provide huge leaps in internet speeds from its predecessor. WiFi 6 offers connectivity improvements for devices that support it. However, it’s also backward compatible with WiFi 5 and older devices.
It also excels in working in high-density environments, supports an increased number of simultaneous connections, and even boasts better battery life. You can also expect a significant boost in transfer rate than predecessors.
How is WiFi 6 Better than WiFi 5?
Now, all these things might sound great on paper. But Should you really upgrade your devices from WiFi 5 to WiFi 6? Are those Improvements even worth it? Let’s see how WiFi 6 is better than WiFi 5 and what exact differences in performance can you expect.
Improved Battery and Power Consumption
The battery life or power consumption of an electronic device is crucial. If your device has a shorter battery, it’s really an inconvenience to carry around a charger. The same goes for a device e.g. router that’s plugged into the wall 24/7. If its electric consumption is too high, it’s going to increase your energy bills.
WiFi 6 offers a great battery conservation feature known as Target Wake Time (TWT). It cuts down the amount of time a WiFi device spends connected to a network. It basically puts the WiFi radio to sleep when not in use, saving the significant battery life of a device. The same technology is built into the WiFi routers and allows them to operate on a low-power mode when no devices are connected.
Better Data Transfer Rates
Speed is one of the most crucial factors that everything depends on. From browsing the internet, downloading/uploading data, or transferring files over the network, the WiFi transfer rate should be high.
Considering how the world is now shifting to high-speed gigabit internet connections, wireless connectivity needs to keep up. WiFi 5 could theoretically go up to maximum data speeds of 6.9 Gbps. In reality, its wifi-standard 802.11ac had an average data speed of 200Mbps.
WiFi 6, on the other hand, is quite an upgrade in terms of speed. It uses 1024 QAM modulation and boasts speeds up to 6.9 Gbps.
WiFi 6 excels when it comes to congested networks. It shows significant speed improvement over WiFi 5 when multiple devices are connected to it. Where speed will be reduced as multiple devices connect through WiFi 5, this isn’t a problem in WiFi 6.
Upgraded Network Security Protocols
Network security is one of the most crucial aspects of wireless connectivity. From public WiFi access points to corporate wireless networks, everything must be protected by ironclad security protocols. This helps secure devices and data from malicious hackers trying to steal data.
WiFi 5 supports WPA and WPA2 security protocols that secure a connection. Compared to obsolete WEP security protocols, these are a significant improvement. However, these protocols now have vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
WiFi 6 upgrades the wireless connection with the latest WPA3 internet security protocol. By combining the effectiveness of WPA, WPA2, and WPA3, WiFi 6 simply excels in securing your wireless access points. Its OWE technology significantly improves multi-factor authentication, prevents auto-encryption, and comes with scannable QR codes for quick connection.
Beamforming is a WiFi transmission technique that directs the signals toward a specific receiver rather than spreading it. It’s a great way of focusing the transmission signals on specific devices for improved security. Beamforming technology was present in both WiFi 4 and WIf 5. WiFi 5 used four antennas to transmit beamforming signals.
Even here, WiFi 6 is a huge step up from the previous generation. It uses eight antennas to transmit beamforming signals that drastically improve connection strength, speed, and security.
More Frequency Bands
One of the major differences between WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 is frequency bands. WiFi 5 supports only the 5Ghz frequency band. It’s a step up from 2.4Ghz but offers less coverage area and weaker wall or object penetration strength. This signal may provide faster speed, but you’ll need a compatible device to use 5Ghz with.
This is where WiFi 6 shines. It supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless bands. You have the ability to broadcast WiFi from both bands and use whichever band suits you in a particular situation.
If you’re further from the router, you can use 2.4Ghz for an increased range. When you’re closer to the router, you can switch to the 5Ghz band for better connection reliability and faster speeds.
Latency often delays the transferring of data packs from one location to another. As latency increases, the inconsistency of internet connection increases as well.
Latency is one of the biggest problems in the online world, especially in competitive gaming. The higher the latency of your connection, the more time it takes for your actions to register on the game server. This can result in delayed action, and even a split second can decide between a victor and a loser.
To reduce this prevalent problem, WiFi 6 introduces significantly less latency between your internet devices. It helps keep the internet connection fast and stable without any delays. It’s a huge improvement over WiFi 5.
The Future of WiFi Connectivity
The internet is a crucial part of our society, and it will keep speeding up as we go into the future.
It’s not only speed, but connection reliability and security play an important part in WiFi connection. To avoid any lapse in performance, WiFi generations will keep updating themselves to fulfill the evolving requirements of the era.
At the moment, the latest WiFi iteration, WiFi 6e, is making waves in the networking industry. With its latest 6Ghz bands and additional security and performance improvements, we can expect a WiFi 7 standard in a few years.
But the question remains, is it worth upgrading all your wireless connectivity and devices to WiFi 6? The answer depends on your usage scenario. If you’re using an internet connection at home, then WiFi 5 will do just as great as its range and transfer rates are great for 2-3 rooms.
However, when it comes to the corporate sector, it’s mandatory to upgrade to the latest WiFi 6 to avoid any security concerns. It’ll also give you massive performance improvements that can lead to improved work productivity.