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WiFi 6 coming in 2019

The WiFi alliance has decided to number WiFi versions. 802.11n which came in 2009 will be called WiFi 4, 802.11ac released in 2014 will be called WiFi 5 and the new 802.11ax to be released in 2019 will be WiFi 6. Versions largely out of service now from before 2009 802.11b, a, and g are WiFi-1, 2, and 3 respectively.

Here's what it promises:
  • 4x better in dense, congested environments
  • 40% faster for peak data rates for a single user
  • Increased network efficiency
  • Extended battery life
  • Improvements will occur on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks

The new chips will do more efficient compression and encoding before sending the data. Expect to see Wi-Fi 6 Certified logos in 2019. You'll begin to see devices as well as routers with that certification. Both the access point and the client device must be WiFi 6 compatible to take advantage of the new spec.

With luck, though not part of the specification, we'll also see the new WPA3 security standard.

Asus already has a router out which uses what it thinks will be the final specification. They'll no doubt do firmware updates when the spec is completed. Notice that they are not WiFi 6 certified because the certifications aren't available, but can say they use the 802.11ax technology.

Expect that routers will be backward compatible at least to WiFi 4 and can use multiple methods to talk to different devices, so if your new phone is WiFi 6 and your old laptop only WiFi 4, then the router will talk to both according to their ability.

Further Reading

Date: November 2018

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