The Rise of Wi-Fi 6.0: A blessing or a Curse?

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A few short years ago, when the internet was still in its infancy stage, securing a connection to the worldwide web was such a cumbersome task that one needed expensive gadgets, cables, and a lot of patience to accomplish. Similar to other aspects of human existence, noteworthy advancements have been made in the field of technology which consequently has made the process of connecting to the internet miles easier. One of such notable advancements is the inception of Wi-Fi 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6.0, as it has been named.

Wi-Fi 6.0 is a new addition to the family of wireless networking. As it is with every technological upgrade, the Wi-Fi 6.0 promises to deliver the better, faster and more efficient connection to its users. It plans to achieve this through its revolutionary MU-MIMO (multi-user multiple input, multiple output) feature, which will allow a router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, instead of one after the other (as it does in older versions), fused with its new OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access) technologies, which will endow one transmission with the capacity to deliver data to multiple devices at once. While all these new features sound exciting, at the core of this leap in wireless technology is the question of whether or not the Wi-Fi 6.0 will deliver real value to internet users.

The Wi-Fi 6.0 comes along with an assurance of increased capacity, faster connection speed, increased range, improved power efficiency and better performance in environments with several connected devices. It allows for 9.6 Gbps downloads (which is really an upgrade from the 3.5 Gbps download offered on Wi-Fi 5.0), and although an average user is highly unlikely to reach even half of this speed in real-world use, it will increase the efficiency of internet connection when a wireless network is split up across a network of devices. Another new improvement on is that the Wi-Fi 6.0 possesses a technology which enables devices to plan out communication with a router, thus reducing the amount of time needed to power antennas in order to transmit and locate signals. It also has a new feature known as TWT (Target Wake Time), which allows devices to sleep and wake up at scheduled times. These new developments are bound to improve battery life. Furthermore, the Wi-Fi 802.11ax has contained a new security protocol known as WPA3 which will make it more difficult for hackers to crack passwords by guessing them. It also offers a higher modulation scheme (such as 1024-QAM), a higher number of OFDM subcarriers, the use of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, 8 simultaneous MU-MIMO streams, uplink scheduling without any contention, and supports various bandwidth options such as 20 MHz, 80 MHz and 80+80 MHz, among others.

On the flip side, the OFDM subcarrier spacing is narrower (78.125KHz), making good noise oscillators and highly linear RF front ends a necessary expense. It uses 1024-QAM to achieve higher data rates, thus EVM specification is tight, more so, tight frequency synchronization and clock offset correction are required to achieve better performance. All this may seem like technological jargon to an average user, nevertheless, the biggest and most noteworthy handicap that comes along with the Wi-Fi 6.0 is the fact that you will need to buy new devices, as Wi-Fi generations rely on new hardware. A router which supports Wi-Fi 6.0 is also required.

In essence, Wi-Fi 6.0 technology is a blessing to people who require adequate connectivity across a vast network of devices, however, the expenses which will inevitably be incurred as a result of the upgrade may just make it unnecessary –a luxury at best– for the average internet user who has a limited budget and only a few devices to connect to the internet.

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