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  • Writer's pictureJacob Reek

WiFi 5 vs. WiFi 6 vs. WiFi 6e

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), and Wi-Fi 6E are different generations of wireless networking standards that offer varying levels of performance and capabilities. Here are the detailed differences between each of these standards:

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac):

  • Speed and capacity: Wi-Fi 5 provides maximum theoretical speeds of up to 3.5 Gbps (gigabits per second) in the 5 GHz frequency band.

  • Channel width: It supports channel widths of 20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz, and 160 MHz, allowing for higher data transfer rates.

  • MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output): Wi-Fi 5 supports up to 8 spatial streams, enabling better multi-device performance.

  • Backward compatibility: Wi-Fi 5 is backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards (802.11a/b/g/n).

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax):

  • Speed and capacity: Wi-Fi 6 offers maximum theoretical speeds of up to 9.6 Gbps, significantly faster than Wi-Fi 5.

  • Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA): It introduces OFDMA, allowing for more efficient data transmission by dividing each channel into smaller sub-channels.

  • MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output): Wi-Fi 6 supports MU-MIMO with up to 8 spatial streams, improving performance in crowded environments with multiple connected devices.

  • Target Wake Time (TWT): It introduces TWT, which allows devices to schedule their Wi-Fi communication, reducing power consumption and improving battery life for connected devices.

  • Improved range: Wi-Fi 6 provides better range and coverage compared to Wi-Fi 5.

  • Backward compatibility: Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards.

Wi-Fi 6E:

  • Additional spectrum: Wi-Fi 6E expands the available frequency spectrum by utilizing the 6 GHz band, in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands used by Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6.

  • Increased bandwidth: With the additional spectrum, Wi-Fi 6E provides more available channels and wider bandwidth, reducing congestion and improving performance.

  • Lower interference: The 6 GHz band offers less interference from other devices, as it is relatively unoccupied compared to the crowded 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

  • Enhanced speed and capacity: Wi-Fi 6E supports the same features as Wi-Fi 6 but with the added benefit of increased bandwidth, resulting in higher speeds and improved capacity.

In summary, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E offer significant improvements over Wi-Fi 5 in terms of speed, capacity, efficiency, and range. Wi-Fi 6E takes it a step further by introducing a new spectrum, providing even more bandwidth and reducing interference, resulting in better overall performance and user experience.

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