13 questions to answer before deploying Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi has become so commonplace around the world that consumers have come to expect it everywhere they go. Wi-Fi 6 brings several key new features to the table that will change the way consumers interact with the web. In addition to faster speeds and reduced latency, Wi-Fi 6 will also dramatically increase the capacity of devices that can connect to a network at once. Get answers to frequently asked questions about its newest features, deployment and upgrade.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wi-Fi 6
Q1: How does Wi-Fi 6 differ from past Wi-Fi standards?
A: WiFi 6 (802.11ax) is the latest generation of WiFi. Building off of the 802.11ac standard for wireless network transmissions, WiFi 6 promises faster throughput speeds, less bandwidth congestion, and WiFi spectrum efficiency. Wi-Fi 6 delivers a better experience in typical environments and more predictable performance for advanced applications such as 4K or 8K video, high-density, high-definition collaboration apps, all-wireless offices, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Wi-Fi 6 will drive Wi-Fi toward the future as the growth of wireless continues.
Q2: Will Wi-Fi 6 be backward compatible with 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac?
A: In Wi-Fi 6, all devices must also support all the mandatory 802.11a,b, g, n, and ac modes of operation. This ensures that Wi-Fi 6 Access Points (APs) and clients are backward compatible with legacy wirleless APs and clients.
Q3: How to achieve backward compatibility in 802.11ax?
802.11 Radios with 802.11ax can communicate with other 802.11ax radios using OFDM or OFDMA.
The devices with 802.11ax radios can communicate with older radios using OFDM or HR-DSSS.
When only 802.11ax OFDMA sessions occur, RTS/CTS (Request to Send/Clear to Send) mechanisms will be used to delay traditional transmissions.
Q4: What makes Wi-Fi 6 faster?
A: Wi-Fi 6 is equipped with several features that allow it to achieve higher speeds, namely:
OFDMA – works by subdividing channels into subcarriers and allowing for transmission to multiple endpoints (devices) at the same time. A Wi-Fi 6 access point can send different signals in the same transmission window. This results in a single transmission from the router being able to communicate with multiple devices, instead of each device having to wait its turn as the router serves up the data across the network;
Higher-order modulations – by which you can transmit more bits in one symbol (Wi-Fi 6 uses max 1024 QAM, while Wi-Fi 5 can use max 256 QAM – which effectively means 10 bits/symbol vs 8 bits/symbol);
MU-MIMO – by which you can multiplex users in the spatial domain, meaning that an AP can communicate with more than one user in the same time/frequency resources – which effectively yield higher system capacity;
Q5: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Wi-Fi 6?
A: Advantages : High peak data rate, higher network efficiency, longer battery life, Less co-channel interference, Robust high efficiency signaling and so on.
Disadvantages : less OFDM subcarrier spacing, tight EVM requirements, stringent frequency synchronization requirement and so on.
Q6: What's the difference between 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6?
A: Broadly speaking, the terms Wi-Fi 6 and 802.11ax both refer to the same next-generation wireless technology. Technically, 802.11ax refers to the wireless technology as described in the official IEEE standard, while Wi-Fi 6 indicates Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA)-certified products and networks that support the .11ax standard. However, many networking pros now use the terms interchangeably.
Q7: What are the differences between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6?
A: Wi-Fi 6 differs from Wi-Fi 5 in crucial areas such as network security, data transfer speed, capacity and spatial streaming, interference and latency. For better network performance, Wi-Fi 6 is likely to be a must for future needs given that more Wi-Fi-enabled devices would appear and need higher capacity of handling data. Refer Wi-Fi 5 vs Wi-Fi 6.
Q8: What are the differences between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G?
A: Many of the differences between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G stem from the difference between their technology types, which is the most notable distinction between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. 5G is successor to 4G LTE cellular technology where as WiFi 6 is successor to 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard - a version of WLAN technology. Cellular technologies from 1G to 5G follows 3GPP specifications. Wi-Fi 6 and 5G each have their respective most applicable scenarios where neither can replace the other. Traditionally, Wi-Fi is better suited to indoor wireless coverage, and Wi-Fi 6 will maintain this. while 5G is better suited to provide larger scale outdoor coverage such as scenic spots. 5G outdoor macro base stations outperform Wi-Fi 6 in both coverage range and roaming. Refer Wi-Fi 6 vs 5G.
Q9: How many access points do I need for full coverage?
A: Proper access point placement and configuration are always crucial. Different access points feature differing physical areas of coverage and support a different number of concurrent devices and users. Your business needs to know how much square footage you have to cover to deliver Wi-Fi access to all your employees before you purchase access points to know how many access points will be enough. Having a proper placement plan is also critical in getting the most out of your access points as possible.
Q10: Where should you place wireless APs?
A: Wireless access point installation isn’t difficult but if you get it wrong, you will feel the pain. Before you begin, it’s important to know that there is more to WiFi than meets the eye, and things you may not consider, like where and how you mount the access point, matter a lot more than you think. Part 1 of our tips for installing wireless access points will focus on 3 key aspects:
existing network environment;
Part 2 will focus on:
advanced network configuration;
how to prime your wireless access points for peak performance;
Q11: should you perform a signal strength test?
A: Without a good signal strength, your Wi-Fi connection will suffer or not exist at all. While you can estimate the area of coverage each access point will bring in the design stage, you usually can’t completely account for interference until the access point is installed. After you’ve built an access point, you should perform some signal strength tests to determine the actual efficiency of your access points. This will confirm for your office or home just how far each access point can reach, which can influence where you place the rest of your access points. Therefore, we recommend measuring the signal strength emitting from the wireless access point in every room you plan to connect to WiFi. Walk around your space and take note of the signal strength you experience.
Signals strength guidelines:
-100 to -85 dBm – generally unusable;
-85 to -60 dBm – can be used, but you may encounter issues and should consider supplementing your wireless network with additional access points;
-60 to -40 dBm – just right and you will experience the strongest wireless performance when you’re in this range;
Q12: Is Wi-Fi 6 worth the upgrade?
A: Upgrading to the newest wireless standard is worth it, even if your devices don’t support Wi-Fi standards higher than what you already have installed. You’ll get faster speeds and be able to connect more devices without slowing down your network or causing any issues for other people who are connected wirelessly.
Q13: Should I upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or wait for Wi-Fi 7?
A: Of course, with technology being the way it is, Wi-Fi 7 is already on the horizon. However, it’s a little way down the road. It’s in the very early stages of development as of now. It will be a bit of an iterative upgrade from the looks of it. Wi-Fi 7 going to operate in the same frequency bands as Wi-Fi 6 but promises significant improvements in connection stability and reliability.
So, should you upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 right now, or wait for Wi-Fi 7? It’s a bit of a tricky question. Wi-Fi 7 will take quite some time to become a standard, arrive, and then some more to ship in devices. If a network upgrade is something you’re looking forward to, but don’t have an urgency for, you can wait for Wi-Fi 7. If your current wireless setup is buckling under the load, or you need the headroom right now, Wi-Fi 6 would serve you plenty well.