Wi-Fi 6 is revolutionizing the internet as we know it, and it’s going to change the modern home forever. Society’s hunger for faster speeds and more devices has been growing faster than Wi-Fi has been able to — until now.
Chances are, your home has at least one smart device connected such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, smart LED lights, and a range of other small smart devices. While these devices can be fun and useful, they are probably slowing your internet connection.
That’s where Wi-Fi 6 comes into play. It was created to solve all of our connectivity problems.
Let’s dive in.
The History of Wi-Fi
For younger people, it might be hard to recall a time when Wi-Fi wasn’t readily available almost everywhere when, in fact, the modern internet didn’t come into play until the ’90s, and max speeds were a mere 2 Mbps. Even up until 2003, max speeds didn’t reach higher than 54 Mbps.
Today, a 50 Mbps connection is hardly considered acceptable and wouldn’t be enough to support more than one streaming device. Today, Wi-Fi 6 brings the theoretical max speed of your internet up to 10,000 Mbps. Most people have internet somewhere under 1000 Mbps, but even 1000 Mbps is much faster than most people would ever need.
So, how did we get here?
Our Consulting Editor, Patrick Ward, sat down with Brian Wallace, Founder of NowSourcing, an award winning nationally recognized infographic design agency who has collaborated with Netgear on their Wi-Fi 6 initiatives, to discuss the History of Wi-Fi and what the future holds with Wi-Fi 6.
Are you a Journalist or Researcher writing about Wi-Fi 6?
Contact us and we’ll connect you with one of our tech experts who can provide insights and data to support your work.
Early Theories of What The Future Would Be Like
Surprisingly, in the early 1900s, people like Nikola Tesla imagined a world much like the one we are living in today. The speeds, smart devices, and connectivity that we have access to today are akin to nothing less than magic. We can send messages, hold calls, and transfer files across the world in no time at all.
You can walk into your home, tell “Alexa” to turn on the rainbow lights, put on your favorite song, and brew you a cup of joe, and it will all be done in an instant. We are living in the future.
But, what did early theorists think our lives would be like?
- Nikolas Tesla: “We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly…see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face…And the instruments through which we shall…a man will be able to carry in his vest pocket.”
- Paul Otlet: “From a distance, everyone will be able to read text…projected on an individual screen. In this way, everyone from his armchair will be able to contemplate creation, as a whole or in certain of its parts.”
- Vannevar Bush: “Consider a future device…in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications…mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility…an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.”
Clearly, they were on to something. It’s amazing to think that predictions made in the past would not only be met, but surpassed with the unbelievable advancements in technology. Only in Sci-Fi movies has anyone been able to predict the advancements, such as smart homes, all made possible by Wi-Fi 6.
The Internet’s Birth And Early Beginnings
Although we have come so far, it’s important to know where we have come from. The internet has advanced far beyond what the original creators ever intended, and its earliest stages hardly reflected the World Wide Web of today.
- 1941. Frequency-Hopping Spread-Spectrum (FHSS) technology is developed. It was created by a Hollywood actress named Hedy Lamarr, and it was designed to guide torpedoes during WWII without being detected. Although underappreciated in its time, FHSS would eventually be used in WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and more.
- 1969. The internet began as a network funded by the United States Department of Defense called “ARPANET.” It allowed for multiple computers to communicate on a network and is considered to be the first working prototype of the internet.
- 1983. ARPANET grew from a single network of computers into a “network of networks.” TCP/IP was created by DARPA scientists Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn and is considered the birth of the modern internet. At this time, though, it isn’t widely used or installed into residential homes.
- 1985. Industrial Scientific (ISM) Band released for public use. This prevented microwaves from interfering with FCC-control frequencies and sparked a new era of wireless connection using 2.4 GHz frequencies.
- 1988. WaveLAN is created by NVR and AT&T to connect cash register systems. These operated at speeds of 1-2 Mbps.
- 1990. The World-Wide Web is born. Invented by computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, what we know now as simply “the internet” finally allows people to remotely access online data through various websites. At this point, the internet starts to become popular among the general public.
- 1997. The first IEEE 802.11 Standard is released based on WaveLAN tech.
- 1999. “Wi-Fi” is officially trademarked by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
- 2009. Wi-Fi 4 is born. By this time, there have been a couple of other iterations of Wi-Fi that are generally referred to as Wi-Fi 2, and Wi-Fi 3. Even in 2009, Wi-Fi 4 could still only handle one device’s signal at a time.
- 2013. Wi-Fi 5 allows multiple devices to be streamed simultaneously and increases Wi-Fi’s theoretical max speed from 600 Mbps to 7,000 Mbps. A true Wi-Fi revolution.
However, even well into the 2010s, people had no idea that Wi-Fi 6 would blast their internet connectivity into the future.
What is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 is a new technology that splits each transmission to stream to up to 12 devices simultaneously. It was created to meet the increased demand for simultaneously connected devices created by the “Internet of Things,” or, IoT.
As mentioned earlier, most homes today contain at least one “smart” device, otherwise known as an IoT device. These devices connect to your Wi-Fi modem and can quickly cause congestion.
In 2020, the average home is projected to have more than 6 connected devices, which is more than enough to slow down today’s Wi-Fi router.
Wi-Fi 6 dramatically increases the max potential speed and actual speed of home Wi-Fi that has more than 4 connected devices. This breakthrough in internet technology paves the way for IoT connected homes without slowing down speeds for your streaming devices such as smart TVs and smartphones.
How Wi-Fi 6 Differs From Wi-Fi 5?
Wi-Fi 5 can reach amazing speeds, and it’s what most people have installed in their homes today.
If you only had one device connected to your modem, the speed difference between Wi-Fi 5 and 6 is probably not noticeable; it’s when you have more than 4 devices connected that Wi-Fi 6 begins to shine.
|Wi-Fi 5||Wi-Fi 6|
|Can reach speeds up to 7,0000 Mbps||Can reach speeds up to 10,000 Mbps|
|Handles up to 4 simultaneous streams||Handles up to 12 simultaneous streams|
Problems with Wi-Fi 5: Need for Speed
If you live with even one person other than yourself, the likelihood that you have more than 4 devices connected at the same time is very high. If you have a family, your bandwidth is no doubt being used up.
With a smart TV, one computer, a tablet, and a cellphone, you already are reaching the max capacity of a Wi-Fi 5 modem.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a Wi-Fi 6 modem, your home internet is already outdated and likely becomes congested, especially when everyone in your family is at home. Even with a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi 5 router that boasts lightning-fast speeds, if you have more than 4 devices connected, your entire network will be slowed across each device.
Why You Should Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6
Upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router is a way to “future-proof” your home connectivity. Your current Wi-Fi router is probably outdated and is struggling to meet your demands. New Wi-Fi technology has finally been able to meet our hunger for more connected devices — and it’s time to make the switch.
If you live with a family or plan to load your house up with IoT devices and create your own “smart home,” you will no doubt need to upgrade your router to reach Wi-Fi 6 speeds on all of your streaming devices.
With 20 billion IoT connected devices being anticipated for 2020, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6 is important for a number of reasons.
Increase your device’s battery life. As your devices struggle to share bandwidth, you might be surprised to know that it actually takes a toll on your battery. With Wi-Fi 6, your computers, cell phones, and tablets won’t have to compete for connectivity and therefore will last noticeably longer.
- Welcome 8k streaming into your home. With increased speeds, efficiency, and organization, your home will be equipped to easily handle multiple 4k streaming devices and will be able to handle 8k streaming devices when you get ahold of them.
- Fully outfit a smart home. An outdated Wi-Fi 5 router is hardly able to handle a small handful of devices, let alone a fully outfitted smart home. You will need a smart TV, Smart LED lights, and a number of smart plugs to hook up your other appliances.
- Increase your max speed to 10,000Mbps. While most homes don’t ever need to access a 10,000Mbps connection, with Wi-Fi 6, it’s possible. As internet speeds continue to soar, you may find that you want the potential of faster internet. This is another way of future-proofing your home.
Obviously, Wi-Fi 6 has some serious advantages over Wi-Fi 5. If you want to launch yourself into the future, or as we call it — the present — you will need to upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 router as soon as possible. Don’t let your speeds and batteries suffer under outdated technology; it’s time to upgrade today.
The Fastest Wi-Fi Speeds With Wi-Fi 6
Vice did a story in 2016 of the person who, then, had the fastest residential Wi-Fi in the United States, James Busch. Want to know how fast that was?
With an outdated router, those speeds aren’t even possible.
It’s important to note that most internet providers don’t even offer speeds over 1,000Mbps, but some of them do for people who are interested. They offer those speeds, not because they think you need them, but because they want you to understand that they can do it if you want it.
James Busch describes that with a full family streaming Netflix and a job that required him to download many gigabytes of data per month, they needed more than 1,000 Mbps. They found that they were reaching the limits of their outdated internet.
If you have a 5-person family and each person wants to stream Netflix, play video games, or download movies, all at the same time, you just won’t be able to do so with an outdated router — but with Wi-Fi 6 — you can do all of that at 10,000 Mbps speeds! (If you have an internet service provider that offers such a thing.)
How to Connect to Wi-Fi 6
Connecting to Wi-Fi 6 is as easy as switching up your router to a new Wi-Fi 6 compatible router. If your internet is congested or is delivering slower-than-advertised speeds, it’s probably due to an outdated Wi-Fi router. You can find a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router on Amazon.
Wi-Fi 6 For The Future
Unfortunately, if you don’t have Wi-Fi 6, you are already left in the dust by recent advancements in internet technology. Most people take their internet speeds very seriously. If you are paying for 1000 Mbps speeds, you want to get as close to those speeds as possible. However, once you connect more than 4 devices to your router at the same time, your speeds are suffering.
If you want to move into the future with Wi-Fi 6, you will be able to increase your speed as your internet service provider’s increase what they offer — all without suffering due to more connected devices.
Future-proof your home today by installing a new Wi-Fi 6 internet router and taking advantage of what it has to offer.
History & Future of Wi-Fi Infographic
Netgear and NowSourcing produced the following infographic on the history of Wi-Fi and what the Future holds with Wi-Fi 6.
Share with your friends
Patrick Ward is the Consulting Editor for High Speed Experts, a broadband connectivity search engine and IT industry education platform. A writer featured in Forbes and Ad Age, he has worked extensively across the insurance, real estate, finance, travel, and tech industries, with notable clients including Allianz, Cathay Pacific, and Fiji Airways.