Earlier this year, Nokia has launched its newest addition to its line of premium Wi-Fi mesh, the Nokia Wi-Fi Beacon 6. As the name suggests, this new Nokia Wi-Fi mesh supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, enabling next-generation wireless connectivity at home.
But what is Wi-Fi 6, and what are its major improvements over the previous generation Wi-Fi standards?
What is Wi-Fi 6?
The Wi-Fi standard progressed over the last 20 years, but improvements in each generations mostly focuses on bandwidth and security. Whilst the Wi-Fi 6 aims to continue the same trend, it is also set to focus on faster data rates, and lower latency.
The latest Wi-Fi 6 on the Beacon 6 can achieve exceptional low latency connectivity through the use of orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA).
OFDMA allows multiple devices with different bandwidth requirements to connect to a single access point (AP) simultaneously. Basically, it takes a Wi-Fi channel and divide it into smaller frequency allocations called resource units (RUs).
Since OFDMA is flexible, it can allocate a channel to a single device, or subdivide it to multiple devices depending on the traffic — hence, eliminating queueing, resulting to lower latency.
Read bullets below to understand more about OFDMA.
Wi-Fi 5 features Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). OFDM only transmits traffic to a single device at a time, which can create lag while device wait their turn for data.
Wi-Fi 6, on the other hand, features orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA). This can transmit data to multiple devices at the same time, subdividing the channel to smaller chunks of spectrum called resource units (RUs). Since OFDMA can handle multiple traffic at the same time, it eliminates queueing within multiple devices resulting to lower latency.
A low-latency network is especially helpful for things like video conferencing, online gaming and voice-over Wi-Fi devices which needs real-time data transfer. Of course, you will can only take advantage of OFDMA if your device is Wi-Fi 6 compliant (like iPhone 10 or 11, or Oppo Find X2 and similar). Unfortunately, no Nokia phone supports WiFi 6 at the moment of writing of this article.
What is Wi-Fi 6E?
Aside from Wi-Fi 6, there is also a Wi-Fi 6E which the “E” moniker stands for “extended”. Wi-Fi 6E makes use of the 6GHz spectrum, giving a total bandwidth of 1200MHz.
This increase in capacity means that the Wi-Fi 6E will not get the common interference issues from 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The Wi-Fi 6E operates on 6GHz, which is out of the range of spectrum which most common household items like microwave, Bluetooth speakers, cordless phones, and baby monitors operates on.
2.4GHz has wider coverage of the three, but has slower speed. It can also get very crowded, and is prone to interference. Microwave, for example, operates on 2.4GHz.
5GHz has less area coverage, but is relatively faster than 2.4GHz. While it is less prone to interference than the 2.4GHz spectrum, it still has problems penetrating through the walls.
6GHz is the fastest of the three, but has the shortest range. This spectrum isn’t common for any wireless household items, so it has no issues with interference.
The high-bandwidth and low latency connectivity is the future of Wi-Fi. We can see the Wi-Fi 6E enabling things like better 4K/8K video streaming, virtual reality, cloud gaming services, IoT, and many more applications that requires fast real-time low-latency data transfer. And this is just the beginning!