The number of devices connected to the Internet wirelessly is steadily increasing.
Laptops, PCs, televisions, tablets and smartphones come first here.
But smart home devices, from networked lights to smart household appliances, are also connected to WiFi at home.
The router can reach its limits: streams jerky, web pages open slowly.
The new WLAN standard Wi-Fi 6 (ax-WLAN) promises improvements.
"Here a technology is used that
to the cumbersome abbreviation OFDMA
(Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access, d. Red.),
With which the entire bandwidth can be used much more efficiently," explains Ernst Ahlers from the specialist magazine "c't" .
While with the previous WLAN standards, ie also with the current predecessor Wi-Fi 5 (ac-WLAN), the router virtually processes all of its "jobs" one after the other, Wi-Fi 6 can serve several participants at the same time.
"If you imagine the network's air interface as a multi-lane motorway, the devices with Wi-Fi 6 can each use their own lanes," explains Olaf Hagemann from the US network technology specialist Extreme Networks.
The data congestion is over with Wi-Fi 6
With Wi-Fi 6, traffic on the information highway is always flowing, whereas with previous Wi-Fi versions there was a traffic jam - because there was only one lane.
Significant increases in speed, however, are not to be expected from Wi-Fi 6 at first, says Ernst Ahlers.
"Under really optimal conditions, the new standard creates one gigabit per second (GBit / s), but for this all components must work with the latest standard and no other user is allowed to access the network."
Well connected: In the future, Wi-Fi 6 will primarily increase efficiency on the information superhighway
Another plus of Wi-Fi 6 is the improved level of security.
“WPA3 is used here to encrypt the wireless connection.
The constant WLAN key is used to exchange a temporary key for a current connection, ”explains Prof. Peter Richert from the Münster University of Applied Sciences.
This method makes it much more difficult to crack the encryption.
Nonetheless, Richert considers the use of Wi-Fi 6 in private use to be premature.
“At the moment, industry in particular can benefit from this, for example in production chains, where many machines are controlled wirelessly.
For private households it is more of a "nice to have". "
Wi-Fi 6: Targeted upgrade is not yet necessary
That is why Ernst Ahlers advises consumers against making targeted investments in new devices now.
"Anyone who has a well-functioning installation of their predecessor Wi-Fi 5 today can take their time with the replacement." The expert expects that Wi-Fi 6 will only be able to develop its full effect in 2022.
The Federal Network Agency is currently planning to provide an additional frequency range for WLAN in the second quarter of 2021, namely the range around six gigahertz (GHz).
“That means the entire WLAN spectrum will be expanded, which will ensure more channels and equalization overall,” explains Ahlers.
The six GHz WLAN is also known as Wi-Fi 6E.
It will be backwards compatible as usual.
However, all advantages should only be available with newer, so-called tri-band devices, which, in addition to the new one, can also use the previous 2.4 and 5 GHz WLAN frequency ranges.
So the bottom line is one more reason to wait with new acquisitions.
Experts currently see the new standard as being useful for campus networks in particular.
These are closed radio networks in which companies, institutions or even event centers want to integrate many users at the same time.
"Here, Wi-Fi 6 can significantly increase efficiency and also lead to an improved user experience," explains Olaf Hagemann.
Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible
"Wi-Fi 6 is aimed at so-called high-density scenarios, ie situations in which a large number of devices want to establish a connection at the same time," says Max Pohl from the WLAN service provider Socialwave.
Therefore, Wi-Fi 6 is first and foremost an asset for networks in factories, hotels or events.
Nevertheless, Pohl is convinced that the new standard will sooner or later also reach consumers.
Current smartphones such as the latest iPhones already support Wi-Fi 6, but this would not have a positive impact on users, says Pohl.
Conversely, they do not have to fear disadvantages: "Since Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible, devices that were previously in use and supported one of the previous standards can still be integrated and operated in the network," explains Olaf Hagemann.
"However, the main advantages of Wi-Fi 6 do not come into play."
How WLAN became Wi-Fi
The fact that the new wireless standard is called Wi-Fi 6 is due to marketing.
"The name is basically just a standardization, since it is a global radio standard," explains Ernst Ahlers.
“Wi-Fi is a brand name from the USA and Wi-Fi 6 is now the name of this current WLAN standard.” WLAN is an abbreviation used primarily in Germany for wireless networks, while Wi-Fi is international common abbreviations act.