WiFi 6 – What’s in it for you?
The cost of WiFi 6 has dropped but is it worth upgrading yet? Here are some benefits and considerations:
Benefits of WiFi 6
- Multiple WiFi 6 (802.11ax) devices can communicate simultaneously, rather than contending for a connection, so it’s particularly suited to areas such as conference rooms, canteens and classrooms where many devices need access.
- WiFi 6 has a data rate 37% higher than WiFi 5 (802.11ac), so moving large files will be quicker.
- WiFi 6 now uses the 2.4Ghz Band as well as the 5Ghz band. This allows for better signal penetration through walls and general improved coverage with like-for-like antennas compared to WiFi 5.
- It’s better for latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video.
- WiFi 6 has features making it better for IoT devices, such as Zigbee that can be used to set up personal area networks and access points (APs) can host Bluetooth 5 low energy networks.
WiFi 6 Considerations
- Switches also need to provide PoE+ (802.3at) to any WIFI6 AP because, unlike WiFi 5 that would work in a lower power mode, most WiFi 6 APs will not enable their radios unless they have PoE+.
- With PoE+ the cabling has to be able to pass high currents without overheating. For this reason, we recommend Cat6a cabling.
- The higher wireless bandwidth of WiFi 6 could exceed the 1GB link or produce a bottleneck between the wired network and the AP. To combat this, most WiFi 6 APs support the Multi-Gig or Smart Port standard (IEEE 802.3bz). If the switch also supports it, the AP and switch port will sense the cable type, length and quality to support higher rate than 1GB. Supported rates include 2.5GBASE-T or 5GBASE-T across Cat5e and Cat6 cabling.
- The bandwidth of the trunk links between edge switches and the core may need to be increased with multiple 1GB links or 10GB links.
As always, we’re happy to give honest advice with no hard-sell.
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