A wireless local area network allows you to interconnect your devices and radio waves enable the rapid exchange of data.
The term “Wi-Fi” was coined to get a simpler term to refer to the standards of the group IEEE 802.11, which are the ones used for wireless networks. Since 1999, several versions have followed one another, improving the quality of data transmitted per second, the signal range or the connection quality. The latest publicly accessible version is called Wi-Fi 6 (the official name of the standard is “IEEE 802.11ax”).
Several devices are already compatible with Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E; these are very recent. Concerning your modem/router, there will be some time before this technology is included. At present, the Wi-Fi signal transmitted by your modem/router uses two frequency bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz):
- 2.4 GHz: This frequency band, shared by numerous types of use, enables the transmission of signals over long distances and is not affected by barriers created by walls or floors;
- 5 GHz: This frequency band is more stable and faster. Regarding data transmission, it has more and broader channels: there are 13 channels of 20 MHz or 40 MHz on 2.4 GHz. On 5 GHz, there are 13 channels of 20, 40 and 80 MHz. Most receivers are compatible with this band, which is a bit more sensitive to the presence of obstacles than the 2.4 GHz band.
Wi-Fi 6 also uses these frequency bands. In the next development, Wi-Fi 6E (E meaning “extended”) will add the 6 GHz band.
Compared with the previous versions, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer:
- A higher speed (channels up to 120 MHz);
- A shorter response time;
- A better connection management in case of high user density (when a large number of users are simultaneously connected to the same network, at the same location).
With the addition of the 6 GHz band and its 480 MHz of additional bandwidth, Wi-Fi 6E will offer more frequencies and a higher speed (up to 11 Gbps in theory).
Last but not least, it better manages the active and sleep status of connected devices. Less strain will be put on the batteries of smartphones, tablets and laptops and they will thus last longer.
The transition to Wi-Fi 6E will not be mandatory. Current devices, even if they do not have access to the new band, can still be used without any problems.