The world of wireless technology has evolved rapidly over the years, and today, we have several different Wi-Fi standards that offer different speeds, ranges, and capabilities. Two of the most recent and buzzworthy Wi-Fi standards are 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6. In this blog post, we will explore what these standards are, how they differ from each other, and what benefits they offer to users.
What is 802.11ax?
802.11ax, also known as High-Efficiency Wireless (HEW), is the latest Wi-Fi standard that was introduced in 2019. It is designed to deliver faster speeds, improved reliability, and better capacity in high-density environments such as airports, stadiums, and urban areas. 802.11ax operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and can support up to 8×8 MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) with a maximum throughput of 9.6 Gbps. This means that it can handle multiple devices simultaneously without experiencing network congestion, which is especially useful in crowded areas.
What is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, is the next generation of Wi-Fi technology that builds on the strengths of the previous standards to provide faster speeds, better capacity, and improved performance. It was introduced in 2018 and is backward compatible with earlier Wi-Fi standards such as 802.11ac/n/g/a/b. Wi-Fi 6 operates on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and can support up to 8×8 MIMO with a maximum throughput of 9.6 Gbps, similar to 802.11ax.
What are the differences between 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6?
Although 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.
- Naming: Wi-Fi 6 is a consumer-friendly name coined by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and certifies Wi-Fi products. On the other hand, 802.11ax is the technical name of the standard as defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the organization that sets the standards for wireless networking.
- Timeline: Wi-Fi 6 was introduced in 2018, while 802.11ax was introduced in 2019. This means that Wi-Fi 6 is more widely adopted and available in consumer devices such as smartphones, laptops, and routers.
- Certification: Wi-Fi 6 is certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which means that devices that are labeled as Wi-Fi 6 certified have been tested to meet certain standards for interoperability, security, and performance. 802.11ax, on the other hand, does not have a certification program, and manufacturers may implement the standard differently, which could result in compatibility issues between devices.
- Features: Although both standards offer similar speeds and capacity, 802.11ax has some additional features that Wi-Fi 6 does not have. For example, 802.11ax includes technologies such as OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access), MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), and TWT (Target Wake Time) that improve efficiency and reduce latency in high-density environments.
|Naming||Technical name||Consumer-friendly name|
|Timeline||Introduced in 2019||Introduced in 2018|
|Certification||No certification program||Certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance|
|Features||OFDMA, MU-MIMO, TWT, etc.||Similar to 802.11ax|
|Maximum throughput||9.6 Gbps||9.6 Gbps|
|Benefits||Faster speeds, improved capacity, etc.||Similar to 802.11ax|
Benefits of 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6
Both 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 offer several benefits over previous Wi-Fi standards, including:
- Faster speeds: With maximum throughputs of up to 9.6 Gbps, 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 offer faster speeds than earlier Wi-Fi standards, which is especially useful for bandwidth-intensive activities such as streaming 4K videos and online gaming.
- Improved capacity: 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 can handle more devices simultaneously than earlier standards, which is useful in crowded areas such as airports, offices, and homes with multiple devices.
- Better battery life: With technologies such as TWT (Target Wake Time), 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 can reduce the power consumption of devices, which can extend their battery life.
- Lower latency: With technologies such as OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access) and MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output), 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 can reduce latency, which is important for real-time applications such as online gaming and video conferencing.
- Backward compatibility: Both 802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 are backward compatible with earlier Wi-Fi standards, which means that devices that support these standards can connect to older Wi-Fi networks and devices.
- Should you upgrade to 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6?
- If you are currently using an older Wi-Fi standard such as 802.11n or 802.11ac and are experiencing slow speeds or network congestion, upgrading to 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 can offer significant benefits. However, if you are not experiencing any issues with your current Wi-Fi network, upgrading may not be necessary, especially if your devices do not support the new standards.
- It is also worth noting that upgrading your Wi-Fi router or access point to 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 may not necessarily improve the performance of all your devices. For example, if your smartphone or laptop does not support the new standards, it will not be able to take advantage of the faster speeds and improved capacity offered by 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6.
802.11ax and Wi-Fi 6 are the latest Wi-Fi standards that offer faster speeds, improved capacity, and better performance in high-density environments. Although there are some differences between the two, they both offer similar benefits and are backward compatible with earlier Wi-Fi standards. If you are experiencing slow speeds or network congestion with your current Wi-Fi network, upgrading to 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 can offer significant benefits. However, if your devices do not support the new standards or if you are not experiencing any issues with your current Wi-Fi network, upgrading may not be necessary.