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Definition: Wi-Fi 6


The latest Wi-Fi generation. Wi-Fi 6 is the Wi-Fi Alliance branding of the 802.11ax standard from the IEEE (see 802.11 versions). Emerging in 2021, Wi-Fi 6 works more efficiently in crowded networks. Earlier Wi-Fi devices can detect and bypass Wi-Fi 6 packets.

Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024QAM modulation (four times Wi-Fi 5's 256QAM) as well as two multiuser uplink and downlink transmission methods (MU-MIMO and OFDMA). Wi-Fi 6's theoretical maximum speed is 9.6 Gbps compared to 3.5 Gbps for Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac). In practice, download speeds are a fraction of the maximum. See MU-MIMO, OFDMA and QAM.

Previous Wi-Fi (802.11) standards support one uplink stream at a time from a client to an access point (AP), Wi-Fi 6 handles several users simultaneously.

Two or Three Frequency Bands (6 and 6E)
Wi-Fi 6 uses the same channel bandwidths as Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) but with more subdivisions. However, unlike Wi-Fi 5, which uses only the 5 GHz frequency band, Wi-Fi 6 operates in both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Wi-Fi 6E (Extended) includes the 6 GHz band, which adds 14 more channels. The higher 6 GHz frequency range means shorter wavelengths and more difficulty passing through dense walls and floors. See 802.11ac and 802.11.