Mar 05 2020

5 Questions to Ask About Wi-Fi 6 Before It Arrives

The new standard is designed to boost performance in densely populated areas when both clients and access points play by Wi-Fi 6 rules.

Federal IT managers interested in Wi-Fi 6 ­— the next generation of Wi-Fi — should start with high-density locations, such as public hearing rooms, to see the biggest benefits first. Here’s what they need to know:

1. What Is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 boosts performance in densely populated areas when both clients and access points use Wi-Fi 6 rules. The new standard focuses on environments such as large meeting rooms or temporary locations that need high bandwidth. Wi-Fi 5, now widely deployed, should coexist well with Wi-Fi 6.

2. When Can My Agency Get Acces to Wi-Fi 6?

Although Wi-Fi 6 isn’t yet approved, major vendors have related products. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 cellphone and Apple’s iPhone 11 support it. Laptops with Intel Ice Lake and Comet Lake processors should be firmware-upgradeable.

3. What Kind of Benefits Does Wi-Fi 6 Bring?

Older devices should work fine on Wi-Fi 6 networks, but without new clients, there’s little advantage. The biggest jump will be in high-density spaces; these features require clients and APs to be Wi-Fi 6. As long as you have old hardware on the airwaves, you’ll see limited or no benefits.

4. What Solutions Support Wi-Fi 6?

A full Wi-Fi 6 deployment means updating network infrastructure, APs and clients, so take a gradual upgrade path. Make sure anything added to a network can support Wi-Fi 6, then find ways to allow faster AP-to-network speeds later. 

5. Does Wi-Fi 6 Work with 5G?

Wi-Fi 6, with higher speed and density, extends the usefulness of Wi-Fi as a faster and cheaper alternative to cellular data, even the superhigh speeds proposed for 5G networks. Users will get a better experience with properly engineered and deployed Wi-Fi 6 than 5G. But the two are complementary, with Wi-Fi ideal indoors and 5G outdoors.

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