WiFi 6 is the latest wireless connectivity standard that is improving our connections to the Internet. For a year now, there are devices compatible with the standard, such as mobiles or routers. Among its improvements, we find a much higher maximum speed, in addition to greater stability. In the future, the band of 6 GHz for even higher speed, but there are some devices that are getting WiFi 6 certified without meeting the standard of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Last September, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the WiFi 6 certification program, logo included, explaining the requirements that a device had to meet before receiving the certificate. Among the functionalities that must include a router, a mobile phone, or any device compatible with the standard, the following functions must be found:
- Orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA): Responsible for channel sharing to increase network efficiency and reduce both upload and download latency in high traffic environments
- Multi-user multiple inputs multiple outputs (MU-MIMO): Functionality already present in WiFi 5, and which allows more download data to be transmitted simultaneously and to several devices at the same time
- 160 MHz channels, increasing bandwidth to improve performance and reduce latency
- Target Wake Time (TWT): It greatly improves the battery of devices, including mobile or IoT.
- 1024 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation Mode (1024-QAM): Improves the performance of WiFi transmissions by being able to transport more data in the same amount of spectrum.
- Transmit beamforming: Increased network capacity through reduced noise and signal orientation.
As we see, there are quite a few functions that all routers have to share, where the only difference should be the number of channels used to transmit information, such as 2 × 2, 4 × 4, 8 × 8, etc. Unfortunately, many routers are not meeting some of the specifications.
WiFi 6 requires 160 MHz channels, but some routers offer 80 MHz
Specifically, many WiFi 6 routers do not have 160 MHzbut they only accept 80 MHz as the maximum size of each channel. This is the case of Linksys MX5300, with a fairly high price of 399.99 USD. In its official certificate, It clearly states that it only accepts channels up to 80 MHz, and not 160 MHz as required by the standard. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be a widespread practice, and routers like the ASUS RT-AX92U They do offer 160 MHz channels. On the other hand, there are routers that may not offer OFDMA in all bands.
In addition to the 160 MHz channels and everything listed above, another function that we should be interested in having in our router is WPA3 compatibility to have the highest security and the best encryption in our connection. Luckily, the vast majority of routers with WiFi 6 support this protection, but it is good to check it in advance to avoid scares. In the case of ASUS, some routers do not put it on the sales tab, but on the official website, they explain how to activate it since many do it through firmware updates.
Looking ahead, it will certainly be very important to buy a router that supports 6 GHz bands (the so-called WiFi 6E), although there is still no router that is compatible. Although many devices are already supported, the standard is not yet finalized. Your final certification will take place at the beginning of the year.
Update: reviewing the specifications of the standard, we have found that the support of 160 MHz channels is not mandatory, but is optional. The mandatory support is for 80 MHz channels, which includes all WiFi 6 routers. The article message remains: please check the channel compatibility before buying a router to get the best speed with the 160 MHz ones.