By migrating to Wi-Fi 6 now, organizations can realize increases in power efficiency, extended outdoor range, better performance in high-density deployments, reduced latency and greater reliability.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each benefit.
Power efficiency accelerates IoT adoption: Target Wake Time
Target Wake Time (TWT) is the mechanism that allows devices to negotiate when and how often they turn on and off based on when they need to send and receive data. This new functionality has a big impact on battery life because not all devices need to be powered on constantly. Devices with TWT "wake up" only when they need to transmit data to the network.
Since TWT enables device wake time to be scheduled, a Wi-Fi 6 access point can determine when a device should sleep or wake. This means IoT and mobile devices can potentially remain off for days or weeks to conserve battery life.
Extended outdoor range
Beamforming within Wi-Fi 6 is possible with eight antennae instead of the four available within Wi-Fi 5. Beamforming directs signals toward specific clients instead of in every direction at once. This improves data rates and extends range for client devices.
Typical outdoor deployment scenarios will see an improvement in long range distances with Wi-Fi 6. The Uplink Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (UL OFDMA) power boosting feature will also lead to improvements in indoor operation of wireless networks. UL OFDMA has the ability to achieve a 10dB gain for narrow 2MHz channels.
Wi-Fi 6 also offers gains over Wi-Fi 5 in an outdoor channel with a large delay spread (think wide open spaces like outdoor shopping centers or large spaces between outdoor factory buildings). This gain is possible due to the longer guard interval, which can compensate for distant reflections of the Wi-Fi signals. The guard interval of Wi-Fi 6 allows up to a 3.2 microsecond guard interval, while the data packet area has increased to 12.8 microseconds — a 4x improvement over Wi-Fi 5. This will make outdoor wireless communications more reliable.
Better performance in high-density deployments
OFDMA also enables Wi-Fi 6 networks to maintain better performance in high-density environments. Carrier sense multiple access (CSMA) protocols are commonly used in Wi-Fi 5 networks to avoid transmission collisions and to provide contention-free access to many clients for uplink and downlink communications.
The 802.11 CSMA protocols are known to be a major cause of inefficiency when a large number of access points and clients exist in a high-density deployment. Therefore, the use of OFDMA in 11ax networks offers an immediate gain in efficiency without the need for the CSMA protocols of Wi-Fi 5.
Reduced latency, greater reliability
Latency management is specifically addressed in Wi-Fi 6 in several ways. Wi-Fi 6 achieves reduced latency by utilizing Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO). MU-MIMO splits the available spatial streams (think communication paths) among several client devices for both transmit and receive communications.
When MU-MIMO is combined with OFDMA, multiple clients can simultaneously receive data during the same transmit opportunity. This will enable many low-bandwidth streams to transmit in parallel, thereby reducing latency and increasing the wireless network's reliability.
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By migrating to Wi-Fi 6 now, organizations can get longer battery life for their mobile devices, extended range in outdoor deployments, better performance in high-density deployments and an overall reduction in latency in high-density environments. Don't wait for the influx of Wi-Fi 6 clients on the horizon to drive your adoption — it's vital to prepare your network today.