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WiFi6: Obstacles That Threaten the Promise of Speed, Reliability, and Efficiency

By Dick Weisinger

WiFi6. It’s the next generation of WiFi standards. It is another name for the 802.11ax standard, and it promises to make WiFi networks faster with less latency, more reliable, and energy efficient.

It sounds good, but an interesting piece in EETimes by Bill McFarland, CTO of Plume, suggests that it won’t be realized without first having to jump some hurdles.

Faster Throughput. WiFi6 offers a doubling of throughput rates, moving from 80 MHz to 160 MHz channels. The problem is that there are only two 160 MHz transmission channels currently available in the US. That may not speed things up when many devices are competing for the limited available bandwidth.

Efficiency. WiFi6 can efficiently transmit in parallel to communicate with a large number of devices. There is potentially less overhead and transmission is speedier. Unfortunately, the architecture in many smart-homes aren’t configured to be able to take advantage of this capability.

Complexity. The ability to take advantage of WiFi6 complexities will require complex management and scheduling of channel traffic.

McFarland concludes that “the home network will continue to grow more congested and complicated. The average US household already has 14.5 connected devices. And the number of global shipments of smart devices is expected to grow to 1.4 billion by 2023. The timing for WiFi6 couldn’t be better. Yet WiFi6 will fall short of its promises without intelligent management and optimization of the home network.”

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