If you haven’t heard, a few WiFi 6 routers have hit the market. We know. You’re probably wondering why you never heard about WiFi 1-5. No, you didn’t miss them. We’ve been using WiFi for 20 years now. Apparently, that’s how long it takes to figure out a simpler naming system.
WiFi 6 Name
The previous versions of WiFi were named 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac in order. The lastest and 6th version of the 802.11 standard is technically named 802.11ax. Fortunately for us, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) realized that 802.11 means nothing to normal people. So we finally get simple names like WiFi 6. Going forward, the older standards will be renamed to WiFi 1-5 respectively.
How Fast Is WiFi 6?
WiFi 6 offers a theoretical maximum of 9.6 Gbps. It’s much faster than WiFi 5’s theoretical maximum of 3.5 Gbps. Actual speed vs. theoretical speed can’t really be compared yet. In reality, there isn’t enough hardware on the market to adequately test the system. We do know that the actual speeds are always dependent on the environment in which WiFi is used.
It’s Not About The Speed
Several years ago, we didn’t have that many WiFi devices. Your phones, a few computers, and perhaps a gaming console represented every WiFi device in your home. Today, many more devices are tapping into our WiFi. Everything from TVs to doorbells to thermostats are connecting to your WiFi network. The average home contains at least 9 devices, and we expect that number to go up dramatically.
This is where WiFi 6 shines. Its biggest advantage really isn’t the speed for a single device. WiFi 6 was designed to improve the connection quality for every device on the network. Typically, each additional device attempting to communicate with your router slows down the network for everyone. WiFi 6 greatly improves that problem for busy networks and improves your speed by improving your connection.
Should You Upgrade Now?
Your devices need WiFi 6 hardware in order to really utilize what a WiFi 6 router offers. While there are some routers available, very few devices exist on the market that can use it. The technology is just too new. Even if you purchased a WiFi 6 router now, your older devices can’t really take full advantage of the technology.
In our opinion, don’t rush out to buy a new WiFi 6 router. Over the next few years, look for devices to start including WiFi 6 as you replace them. On top of that, new technology always gets less expensive over time. We recommend waiting for at least a year or two. Then you can leave behind that old, confusingly-named 802.11ac and move into a world with the simpler, easier WiFi 6.