Promising a “new Wi-Fi era,” the nonprofit Wi-Fi Alliance industry group launched the Wi-Fi Certified 6 program Monday. The program aims to hold devices that use next-gen 802.11ax Wi-Fi radios to an established set of standards.
IEEE 802.11ax, marketed as Wi-Fi 6 by Wi-Fi Alliance, is one of the two Wi-Fi specifications standards of IEEE 802.11, the other is IEEE 802.11ay. They can be thought of as High-Efficiency Wireless.
The Wi-Fi Certified 6 program verifies that devices support all of the individual upgrades that make Wi-Fi 6 up to 40% faster than Wi-Fi 5. Manufacturers that participate get to put a little certification badge on their packaging. The badge is important because it lets you know that the device supports Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi Alliance is a non-profit organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and certifies Wi-Fi products for conformity to certain standards of interoperability. Not every IEEE 802.11-compliant device is submitted for certification to the Wi-Fi Alliance, sometimes because of costs associated with the certification process. However, the lack of the Wi-Fi logo does not necessarily imply a device is incompatible with Wi-Fi devices.
“With the adoption of the latest Wi-Fi generation increasing, product vendors and service providers can trust Wi-Fi Certified will distinguish Wi-Fi 6 products and networks that meet the highest standards for security and interoperability,” says the Wi-Fi Alliance.
WiFi 6 is better at simultaneously transferring data to a large number of users. Furthermore, it uses TWT (target wake time) to improve battery life in WiFi devices including IoT (Internet of Things). The features like orthogonal frequency division multiple access, allows Wi-Fi 6 routers to serve multiple clients simultaneously within a single channel. Wi-Fi 6 is also expected to offer support for cellular networks and to “deliver many advanced 5G services.”
“Wi-Fi Certified 6 supports a more diverse set of devices and applications, from those requiring peak performance in demanding enterprise environments to those requiring low power and low latency in smart homes or industrial IoT scenarios. Wi-Fi Certified 6 delivers nearly four times the capacity of Wi-Fi 5 and is an evolutionary advancement for Wi-Fi’s ability to deliver high-performance infrastructure and optimized connectivity to all devices on a network simultaneously – bringing noticeable improvements in densely connected Wi-Fi environments.”
Wi-Fi will operate on a higher frequency band as compared to its predecessor. However, operating on higher frequency bands does improve theoretical speeds but it also reduces the range of the WiFi network at the same time, making it difficult to penetrate through walls.
As far as security is concerned, the Wi-Fi Alliance also states that the certification for Wi-Fi 6 “requires the latest generation of Wi-Fi security, Wi-Fi Certified WPA3.” For individual customers, that will most likely mean using a version of WPA3 called WPA3-Personal. With WPA3-Personal, customers can primarily expect to have the ability to use easier-to-remember Wi-Fi passwords because of a technology that is “resistant to offline dictionary attacks where an adversary attempts to determine a network password by trying possible passwords without further network interaction.”