Say Hello to Wi-Fi 6
This internet upgrade offers several key perks—but has some drawbacks, too
Whether we’re using it for work or leisure, fast Wi-Fi is crucial. And for large-scale events with high attendance—and lots of devices competing for bandwidth—reliable internet service is nonnegotiable.
That’s why the rollout of Wi-Fi 6 might have some meeting planners dancing (or perhaps tweeting) with joy. As the next generation of wireless internet, Wi-Fi 6 marks the first upgrade since 2014, a move designed to ease network strain as well as improve user experience and security.
It’s speedy, too: One device can operate up to 40 percent faster with a Wi-Fi 6 router.
Beyond those benefits, the enhancement offers better branding. Wi-Fi versions used to be a vague soup of letters and numbers—Wi-Fi 5 is known as 802.11ac, for example—which made it hard for consumers to track upgrades and compatibility. (The Wi-Fi Alliance simplified the naming system last year.)
Here are some pros and cons of Wi-Fi 6:
Pro: It’s great for big groups.
By packing more data into the same radio waves, Wi-Fi 6 can support more devices—whether in a large convention hall or a family home with multiple wireless tools in play.
Con: It doesn’t mean major speed gains.
Although the upgrade is touted to improve a user’s speed by “at least four times,” that’s when measured in dense environments prone to slower service or dropped signals.
Pro: It offers greater security.
A Wi-Fi security update to avert hackers was rolled out last year. Known as WPA3, it hasn’t been required for devices and routers. But certified Wi-Fi 6 products must use it.
Con: It requires new equipment.
Current smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices can’t be upgraded to Wi-Fi 6. You’ll also need a Wi-Fi 6 router for your new tech tools to reap all the benefits.
Pro: It can improve battery life.
A feature called Target Wake Time allows Wi-Fi 6-enabled devices to “schedule” when and how often they wake up to send or receive data, thus reducing unnecessary drain.
Con: It isn’t widely available—yet.
Already a part of some current wireless routers, Wi-Fi 6 isn’t yet available in many consumer gadgets. It’s expected to be more common later this year and in 2020.