If you are going to buy a Wi-Fi router then you will most likely have access to Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6. In fact, they are the two great generations of today that already offer very interesting speeds. But after all what makes Wi-Fi 6 different from Wi-Fi 5? Is the difference really that significant? What we can tell you right now is that it’s worth asking your operator for a router with Wi-Fi 6 and we’ve already explained why.
Wi-Fi router: ask your operator for a router with Wi-Fi 6!
O Wi-Fi 5
Wi-Fi 5 is the fifth generation of wireless networking protocol and is also known by the name 802.11ac. It was born in 2014 and brought several improvements over Wi-Fi 4 or 802.11n, including support for data rates that exceed one gigabit.
It was also the second Wi-Fi version after 802.11a to use the 5GHz frequency for data transmission. Other Wi-Fi 5 features include support for beamforming, MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output), 160MHz channel width support, and four spatial streams. All this has brought significant improvements over Wi-Fi 4, but Wi-Fi 5 is not the icing on the cake.
As the name suggests, Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax is the sixth generation of Wi-Fi and a direct successor to Wi-Fi 5. Introduced in 2020, it builds on Wi-Fi 5, improving its overall throughput to better handle the growing number of wireless devices in homes and corporate offices, including IoT products such as smart home appliances.
O Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 uses 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless frequency bands for data transmission and includes several incremental upgrades over previous generations of Wi-Fi, such as OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access), an enhanced version of MU-MIMO, Target Wake Time (TWT) function for battery saving on mobile and IoT devices, and WPA3 encryption for better security. All these updates make Wi-Fi 6 something that guarantees more speed and stability.
Wi-Fi 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 builds on Wi-Fi 5. As a result, there are many similarities between the two generations of Wi-Fi. However, Wi-Fi 6 comes with improved versions of several Wi-Fi 5 technologies. Some of the most significant differences between the two Wi-Fi generations are the ability to connect to a large number of devices, the use of wireless frequency, ability to transfer or receive multiple data streams, data speed and MIMO support.
One of the highlights of Wi-Fi 6 is OFDMA technology. It is a variant of the OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology present in Wi-Fi 5. OFDMA helps Wi-Fi 6 with more efficient data encoding and better use of the wireless spectrum, allowing up to 30 clients to share one channel simultaneously. So Wi-Fi 6 routers can better handle network congestion caused by multiple simultaneous requests from connected devices. In addition, there is a lower latency. In comparison, OFDM can only connect to one device per channel. Therefore, it is not as efficient at handling concurrent requests.
Another feature of Wi-Fi 6 that makes a difference in the real world is support for eight spatial streams. This guarantees faster data speeds.
Combined with support for dual frequency bands, OFDMA and more spatial streams help Wi-Fi 6 deliver a maximum data rate of 9.6 Gbps. On the other hand, Wi-Fi 5 reaches 6.9 Gbps. Of course, this does not mean that we will reach these values. However what we do know is that we will have a much faster data rate with Wi-Fi 6 than with 5.
In addition, it is possible to deal more effectively with interference from neighbors.