Since its initial launch for widespread use in 1997, Wi-Fi has become the most widely used computer networking technology. It was an industry-wide agreed standard calling themselves 802.11 consortium before settling on the now known name of Wi-Fi. It is used globally in consumer, commercial and business environments to connect a huge range of devices together. The convenience and impressive connectivity of Wi-Fi has helped establish its popularity in the world of wireless networks.
Over the years, Wi-Fi has undergone a range of developments and evolutions to improve connectivity and performance. We have now made it to the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, but what are the features of this wireless technology and what is there to consider when it comes to antennas?
What are Wi-Fi 6 and 6E?
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are the most recent standards for wireless local-area networks (WLANs) and are successors to 802.11ac, which is now referred to as Wi-Fi 5. Wi-Fi 6 was fully adopted in 2019 and brought with it faster speeds, greater bandwidth and higher efficiency. Wi-Fi 6E was introduced and adopted the following year for particular high-density scenarios and applications.
Wi-Fi 6 operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands that are widely used for common services and applications. Wi-Fi 6E uses 6GHz frequency bands for specialised applications that require greater speeds and bandwidths. Both Wi-Fi 6 and 6E have a range of features that make them a direct upgrade to the previously adopted Wi-Fi 5.
What are the features of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E?
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E offer a range of advantages over the previous generation of Wi-Fi connectivity. One of the direct features of Wi-Fi 6 is to enhance throughput-per-area in high density situations using 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM). Throughput-per-area refers to the amount of successful message deliveries over an area, and Wi-Fi 6 has approximately a 300% improvement over an entire network when compared to Wi-Fi 5. This means that a huge number of devices on the same network can all maintain good performance under Wi-Fi 6. 6E is able to support an even greater number of devices through the use of higher frequency bands.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E also bring faster speeds, lower latency and better power consumption through the use of orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing access (OFDMA). This allows devices and routers using Wi-Fi 6 and 6E to use bandwidth more efficiently to reduce power consumption and boost speeds by approximately 40%. The benefits that this new generation of Wi-Fi connectivity brings is used in a wide range of applications.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E applications
The improvements that Wi-Fi 6 and 6E brings to throughput-per-area makes it highly effective in networks that have devices in close proximity to one another. In a consumer context, this can apply to smart homes; the greater bandwidth and efficiency provided by Wi-Fi 6 and 6E allows for a high amount of devices to be used in a smart home without negatively impacting performance or connectivity. In a manufacturing environment, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E enables high operational speed and efficiency in a large amount of IoT devices and machines, ultimately improving production on multiple levels.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E is also suitable for high levels of data streaming through a stable and fast connection. This translates to an effective solution for multiple 4K and 8K video streams on a single network in a home environment. The high bandwidth capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E also benefit manufacturers who handle huge amounts of devices and want to maintain efficiency and speed in their production.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E antenna integration considerations
With the impressive features that come with Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, there are various technologies that need to be taken into account when it comes to antenna integration.
MU-MIMO (Multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) is a technology used by Wi-Fi 6 and 6E in order to overcome the challenges of multiple device support. MIMO refers to the use of multiple antennas at both the transmitting and receiving end of a signal to help improve speed and boost the capacity of radio transmissions. Multi-user MIMO allows multiple wireless devices to simultaneously receive the multiple signals from the router. The key consideration of this technology for integration is that devices require two antennas to take advantage of MU-MIMO.
Wi-Fi 6 functions on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands, which is different to the single 5GHz frequency band Wi-Fi 5 functions on. In terms of antenna integration, this means that devices that want to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6 must support the dual-band connectivity of 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. This does not take into account Wi-Fi 6E that functions on the 6GHz frequency band.
At Antenova, we offer a range of resources and guides to ensure you can integrate the right antenna for your device. Click below to use our antenna selection and placement tool to choose the right antenna based on your PCB size, technologies and preferred layout.