Wi-Fi 6


Without doubt, the internet has become an essential part of people’s everyday lives as it is a means of communication, source of information, and much more. One of the main perks of the internet today is the accessibility; whether you are sitting in front of a computer, relaxing outside in your background, or even in a shopping mall, you can seamlessly connect to the internet. How does that happen though? The answer is Wireless Fidelity, more commonly known as Wi-Fi. Like other technologies, Wi-Fi is a constantly evolving technology and brings improvements with each new generation. The newest Wi-Fi technology, known as Wi-Fi 6, was released in 2019. However, Wi-Fi 6 enabled hardware had only started to be released in late 2019 and throughout 2020. 

What is Wi-Fi 6? 

Wi-Fi 6 is the newest generation of Wi-Fi, and as its name implies, it is the 6th generation of Wi-Fi since its inception. Due to more bandwidth demanding apps such as games and videos with our phones, laptops and other gadgets, the demand for faster internet increases. There is a high chance that your next phone or laptop will be Wi-Fi 6 enabled. If you currently have a newer model phone or laptop, there is also a high chance it is already Wi-Fi 6 enabled.  

What is special about Wi-Fi 6? 

For one, it is fast. To put it into numbers, the theoretical speed of Wi-Fi 6 is roughly three times as fast as the previous generation, Wi-Fi 5. Precisely, Wi-Fi 6 is at 9.6 GB per second compared to the 3.5 GB per second of Wi-Fi 5. However, numbers do not tell the whole story as these are theoretical numbers that are highly unlikely to be reached, nor are there many current use cases demanding data close to 9.6 GB per second. There are multiple factors to take into consideration that affect your observed internet speed. One of the key factors is how many devices are connected to the network. As more devices are connected to the network, the slower the internet becomes, and the higher the chance of network congestion.  

When Wi-Fi 5 was released in 2014, the average US household had 5 devices connected to Wi-Fi. That statistic jumped to 9 devices in 2019 when Wi-Fi 6 was released. Experts predict that by 2022, the average household will have 50 Wi-Fi connected devices. As the demand for smart devices (in addition to “traditional” devices) is increasing, the number of devices connected to a household Wi-Fi network will only increase as well. These added devices will strain the network, therefore requiring a way to alleviate the strain.  

Luckily, Wi-Fi 6 introduces some new technologies to help combat the issues that arise when dozens of devices are connected to a network. Wi-Fi 6 enabled internet routers will allow the routers to communicate with more devices at once and to send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast. By combining these aspects, it will significantly help to decrease packet loss and network congestion.  

How does Wi-Fi 6 work? 

 If you picture the router as a warehouse, the Wi-Fi receiving device as the customer, and the Wi-Fi signals as a delivery service. When a customer buys an item online, the order is sent to the warehouse, fulfilled, and sent out to you via a delivery service. In the internet world, Wi-Fi 6 is essentially an upgraded delivery service that allows more information to be transmitted in one broadcast. When a request has been made by a device, the information is translated into binary code (1’s and 0’s) and sent to the router via wave frequencies from the Wi-Fi chip of the device. Likewise, when the information the device is seeking is obtained, it is sent from the router to the device using binary code via wave frequencies.  

Wi-Fi 6 achieves the goal of sending more information by sending more binary code, which can be quantified by Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM). Wi-Fi 6 routers are 1024-QAM, meaning they work on a basis of 10 digits of binary code for each signal. In contrast, Wi-Fi 5 routers are only 256-QAM, meaning they work on a basis of 8 digits of binary code for each signal. The increased number of binary digits implies in more code being sent, which will result in an increased rate of data sent. The increased rate of data sent will allow the user to experience faster internet.   


Slow internet can be one of the most frustrating experiences for users. Whether it is waiting for a video to load, waiting for files to download, or even the struggle of waiting for a webpage to load due to an overabundant number of devices connected to a network can be extremely frustrating. Hopefully, the technology behind the 6th generation of Wi-Fi will help alleviate the frustrations of many. If not, I guess we will just have to wait for 2024 for the estimated release of Wi-Fi 7!   


Leprince-Ringuet, Daphne. “What Is Wi-Fi 6? A Guide to the Faster Future of the Internet.” WIRED UK, WIRED UK, 22 Sept. 2019, www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-wi-fi-6-explained.  

Reuters. “By 2020, You'll Own 50 Internet-Connected Devices.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 22 June 2013, www.huffpost.com/entry/internet-of-things_n_3130340.  

Kastrenakes, Jacob. “Wi-Fi 6: Is It Really That Much Faster?” The Verge, The Verge, 21 Feb. 2019, www.theverge.com/2019/2/21/18232026/wi-fi-6-speed-explained-router-wifi-how-does-work.  

Lohnes, Kate. “How Does Wi-Fi Work?” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/story/how-does-wi-fi-work#:~:text=Wi%2DFi%20uses%20radio%20waves,2.4%20gigahertz%20and%205%20gigahertz.