A faster network is always in demand especially when more bandwidth-demanding apps and devices keep rolling out. Looking to update your wireless network for better performance and less congestion? Wanna a network upgrade? WiFi 6 is ready to boost your home Internet! It’s the next-generation WiFi standard that brings more than just an increase in network speed but a more reliable network connection. Compared with the legacy WiFi standards, WiFi 6 can handle a larger amount of traffic to accommodate the heavy bandwidth requirements in gaming, VR streaming, high-resolution video surveillance and real-time video conferencing.
This ‘new’ WiFi technology may sound unfamiliar to most of you. In fact, it was already made public in 2013 and its popularity started exploding in 2019, but it’s until 2020 that WiFi 6 products made their way into the hands of end-users and average customers. Considering that it’s a rather new technology, many still don’t know how to retrofit their legacy network to a newer one. But is WiFi 6 really worthy? Is it the time to take advantage upgrading to a faster network? And how do we set up a Gigabit-speed network with WiFi 6 products? Well, before we dive into it, let’s take a look at this superb WiFi technology, and then your questions and confusion will be all cleared.
WiFi 6: Better, Faster Network
WiFi 6 promises new changes to every industry, a leap from the Gigabit network to a ‘multi-Gigabit’ network. It expands on the previous generations and guarantees a faster speed and less bandwidth congestion in data networking. But its impacts are more nuanced: it’s a future-proof technology that makes sure your home network never gets out of date or speed a few years down the road. It helps optimize your home Internet without sacrificing the network scale and its performance. Oftentimes, when you connect multiple devices to the router or modem, it’ll soon become overwhelmed by requests from a multitude of network loads, and as a compromise, the transfer speed will gradually slow down considering there’s not enough bandwidth to support all connected devices to work at their optimum.
However, instead of simply boosting the speed for individual devices, WiFi 6 is introduced to mitigate the issues in network congestion and improve the overall performance of your Internet when a bunch of devices is connected. Its superiority may not seem immediately obvious to average users since it doesn’t show any substantial advantages over its WiFi 5 counterpart when hooked up to only one device since the top speed of each device won’t necessarily be boosted in the process. The truth is a WiFi 6 access point connected to a WiFi 6 router is only slightly faster than a WiFi 5 access point connected to a WiFi 5 router. In fact, it’s its ability to let routers communicate with more devices at once and broadcast the data in the same stream that keeps the connections stronger even when dealing with tons of incoming traffic. It’s very useful in a home where one’s on Skyping or Zoom meeting, one’s streaming Netflix and another is playing VR games, with no device’s performance being sacrificed to reimburse the other.
How is WiFi 6 Different?
Undoubtedly, WiFi 6 is a substantial, unprecedented upgrade in the wireless technology and networking standard. It brings faster throughput speed and makes sure each connected device maintains its top speed even in a busier network. It won’t necessarily accelerate the network speed, but please rest assured that each unit will be guaranteed to operate at full capacity or ‘near-optimum’. But as previously mentioned, WiFi 6 is no better than WiFi 5 when connecting to one single device. How does it stand out from all these WiFi standards? Is it only because of its large capacity when compared to the previous generations or is it because of something else? To answer these questions, I’ve summarized some highlights that distinguish WiFi 6 from other wireless standards.
• The first big change is a faster network speed.
Theoretically, its maximum speed can reach up to 9.6 Gbps, while the WiFi 5 can only reach 3.5Gbps, but both of them are only available in theory which you’re unlikely to reach in the real world. And you won’t possibly use it in your daily lives (the typical upload speed for YouTube streaming is merely 50Mbps), but it’ll be of great help in both commercial and industrial applications, in which a multitude of bandwidth-consuming devices are to be connected. And because that maximum is shared across multiple devices, even if they don’t reach their top speeds, they’ll experience severe data rate drops midway. WiFi 6 can account for up to 70% less latency. It can handle a large amount of traffic more efficiently to guarantee faster download and upload speeds for video game streaming.
• WiFi 6 promises a wider channel width.
WiFi can operate freely in both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz ranges to support up to 12 channels in total, eight in the 5Ghz frequency and four in the 2.4Ghz band, while WiFi 5 only sticks to one particular spectrum, i.e. the 5Ghz range. Normally, the 5Ghz channel allows you to aggregate the 20Mhz channel into 40Mhz and 80Mhz channels when needed. But WiFi 6 opens up a brand new world to 160Mhz channel, allowing substantially faster speeds in data networking. But remember 160Mhz can only work in a single network like a home network, when multiple wired or wireless access points (multiple network segments) are connected, you’ll definitely meet some interference when the demands increase. Furthermore, WiFi 6 can automatically switch among 20, 40, 80 and 160Mhz channels as the environment changes.
Should You Upgrade to WiFi 6 Now?
The short answer is definitely yes if your network devices cannot keep up with the increasing demands of a bunch of bandwidth-consuming Internet of Things. And even if your mobiles or other devices are running on WiFi 4 or 5, you’re totally recommended to take a little time to consider investing in more powerful and future-facing WiFi technology. What’s more, WiFi 6 products have become more affordable for average users with enhanced capabilities that go beyond the basic features offered by the previous WiFi standards. It can offer better network performance in crowded areas, battle network congestion more effectively, guarantee more efficient bandwidth sharing and secure a better battery life by putting certain devices’ WiFi to ‘sleep’ when it’s not being used. WiFi 6 also offers you various options: you can choose a standalone WiFi 6 router to which you can directly hook up, wired or wirelessly, once configured or a wireless mesh system (multiple access points will work as a single network) to optimize your home network.
How Do I Bring WiFi 6 Home?
Well, you’ll need to buy new devices. And most importantly, you’ll need a new WiFi 6 router or some WiFi 6 access points if you want full coverage in every corner. It’s important to know that WiFi 6 relies on hardware rather than software for upgrades. If your current networking device doesn’t support any WiFi features, then you’ll need to replace your older devices with newer ones that include the latest version of WiFi. And similarly, if your router isn’t WiFi 6-supported, trust me, no matter how many WiFi 6 devices you connect, you won’t see any progress or benefits. Replacing your gadgets all at once may seem implausible, but investing in a new WiFi 6 router or access point helps make sure that your network is ready for new devices with WiFi 6 sooner than later. But there are a few questions you’ve to figure out before taking another step.
Question 1: Can My Older Devices Work with WiFi 6? Do I Need An Upgrade?
The interoperability between WiFi 6-certified devices and legacy network devices seems to be a big problem for many. But rest assured that WiFi 6 will be 100% backward compatible with older WiFi standards, meaning the WiFi 6 devices will work with your existing WiFi 5 or older-generation WiFi routers with no problem. Similarly, older WiFi devices will be able to connect to WiFi 6 routers while you may not be able to experience WiFi 6 from day one, for the reason that only WiFi 6-certified devices like Apple M1 MacBook Air, Lenovo Yoga c940, Samsung Galaxy S10/S20 series, etc., can enjoy the faster WiFi 6 speeds, and you won’t be able to use any WiFi 6 features without a new WiFi 6 router.
Question 2: 2.4GHz? 5GHz? Which Frequency Should I Use?
If you’re using a dual-band WiFi 6 router or access points, you can connect the devices to either the 2.4Ghz band or 5Ghz band. As previously stated, most WiFi 6 routers can support 160Mhz channels across the 5GHz band, which offers higher data rates than 2.4GHz channels do. If you only need a faster connection speed for gaming and video streaming, then stick to 5Ghz. It’s designed to offer better networking performance at shorter ranges. However, if you want to get the best coverage from a router, to cover a larger area and an extended distance, 2.4Ghz is a clearly better fit. Even though the 5Ghz router supports a faster network speed, it uses a narrower wavelength to broadcast the signals and it’s more susceptible to physical obstructions, which means it cannot penetrate the wall, door, or desk as well as the 2.4Ghz band does. Moreover, 2.4Ghz is better at delivering signals at a greater distance to give your more freedom on where to place the access points. Also, if your neighbors are also using the 5Ghz frequency, changing your WiFi 6 router’s channel will allow it to operate on a different frequency so as to clear up the interference issue.
What Do You Need to Set Up a Fast-Speed WiFi 6 Network?
The introduction of new equipment always entails the potential difficulty of installation. For someone who always has a hard time with electronics, Fastcabling’s here to walk you through all the necessary steps to set up a fast-speed WiFi 6 network with access points. Below are some general guidelines on how to set up an access point and what is necessary for the setup.
And here are the necessities you’ll need to set up the access points:
1) a WiFi 6 router or network switch
2) wireless/wired access points
3) Ethernet cables
4) a power adapter
5) a computer or laptop
1) Test Your Signal Strength
Before rushing into the next step, you’ve to decide which areas you need to cover and check if you have any signal strength issues. The data rate is largely determined by signal strength, so once you have a good idea of the area you want to cover, you need to evaluate the signal strength of that area and determine where it might be possible to place the access points. You can test your signal strength with your smartphone: Open the Settings on your phone and go straight to the WiFi settings to see the WiFi strength of your network. Or download an app such as WiFi Analyzer where the signal strength will be shown precisely in dBm to help you pick up the ideal installation site. Anything between -67 and -30 dBm will be enough, but once it goes lower than -70 dBm, its performance will start to degrade.
2) Placement and Setup
First, you’ve to find a good spot for your access points since solid obstructions like walls and doors can impede the WiFi signals, so the more obstructions you have between your access points and router, the weaker the signal will be. Ensuring a clear line of sight between the router and access points is the best way to ensure optimal coverage and minimize interference levels. And remember whether you’re using a wired or wireless access point, they still need to be powered up. So you’d better locate them near the power outlets so you won’t bother to install new AC outlets. Once you find the right place for your router, connect it to the power outlet and switch it on. If you’re using a wireless access point, place it in a location where its wireless signal would have minimum or no interference with other wireless devices within the same network, but if the connection is accomplished with a wired LAN, you have to connect the access points with the WiFi 6 router using Ethernet cables. If the access point can be powered by an adapter, then plug it into an electrical socket directly, but if the device only supports a PoE connection, then you can power it by a PoE injector where power and data can be sent to the connected device simultaneously through the same network cable. But beware the PoE injector must be able to support the maximum speeds of WiFi 6 devices since only when the WiFi access points connect to a 10G Internet, will it begin to deliver.
Recommended Product: 10G PoE+ Midspan Injector
The 10 Gigabit PoE injector supports 1G/2.5G/5G/10 Gigabit Ethernet network speed, ideal for environments where the highest possible data transfer speed is essential. This PoE injector can handle a diverse range of applications including high-speed security cameras, 802.11ac WAPs, ITS-traffic monitoring systems, automated production lines, 5G networks, NBASE-T connectivity, etc. Fastcabling’s 10 Gigabit PoE injectors provide various power budgets (30W and 95W) to satisfy the increasing power consumption of today’s IP devices. Compliant with the IEEE 802.3bt standard, the 10 Gigabit 95W BT PoE Injector ensures that high-power and data-intensive applications can be handled properly with a seamlessly faster network speed.
To configure your router settings, use an Ethernet cable to connect the router to the computer. With the user name and password set, you can log into the system to configure its settings and features as you like. You can also turn on Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize the upstream and downstream traffic on your network so as to boost the performance of certain services. Moreover, you can enable the guest network to keep all the personal data and files out of unapproved hands. Since most routers have this feature disabled by default, so you need to activate it manually from the wireless settings. If you’re using a dual-band WiFi 6 router, you can also limit the guest network to either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band to improve the security levels of your home network and block unauthorized access more effectively.
Simplify Network Installation Outdoors
Installing wireless access points is a great option in outdoor deployments to provide data connectivity wirelessly to areas that need access to security cameras, building access controls, etc. You’ve to make sure the access points you use can withstand severe weather conditions. Another major problem is the power supply since the power outlet is not always available in outdoor environments. Installing a new electrical infrastructure normally costs more because the basic power outlet cannot even stand the abnormal current exchange outdoors.
1) Choose a Waterproof Model
One of the common reasons for network failures is water ingress. If you need outdoor coverage for an extensive area, you may also want to choose a system that includes a weatherproof model. Rain can be extremely harmful to your mesh units when moisture gets into the connection between the devices and Ethernet cable. You need to choose an access point that features a high IP rating. The IP ratings are used to define how capable a network device can withstand the intrusion and ingress of dust, moisture, chemicals and other foreign particulates. The higher the number, the more protection you’ll get. For example, IP65 stands for complete protection against dust and low-pressure water jest, while IP54 stands for protection against limited dust ingress and water splashes. And the access point should be rated as at least IP66 to survive the inclement weather in harsh environments.
2) Power the Outdoor APs with Outdoor PoE Injectors
The outdoor PoE injector is a PoE injector that is housed in a waterproof casing to protect the device from water damage. If properly installed, it can also be buried under the ground The PoE injector offers a practical and economical solution to transfer both power and data to the powered devices (PDs) on a twisted-pair cabling system at a maximum distance of 100 meters, eliminating the need for additional power cabling. Compared with the PoE switch, it offers a greater level of flexibility to install the network device in places where there is an AC outlet available. And the PoE injector can also be an excellent power supply unit in the mesh network setup. Once connected to a power source, it will simultaneously convert the received energy to DC power and send it to the mesh node. Since it shares the same working principle as the majority of PoE devices, it can identify whether the connected device is PoE-compatible or not and decide how much power is required by a power handshake.