We have known about the impending arrival of WiFi 6 for some time now, namely as we wrote about the new wireless connectivity standard ever since it has first announced in October of last year.

Now WiFi 6 has taken its most significant step to becoming a reality, with the Wi-Fi Alliance launching its certification today.

For those thinking that all WiFi 6 is created equal, that is not the case, with the certification program helping to identify which devices and environments are optimised to deliver the full features that IEEE 802.11ax has to offer.

In particular the certification will aid in highlighting whether an environment with WiFi 6 provides the security and interoperability afforded to the standard.

“Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 provides significant capacity, performance, and latency improvements to the entire Wi-Fi ecosystem, while ensuring products across vendors to work well together to deliver greater innovation and opportunity,” the Wi-Fi Alliance explained in a press statement.

“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,” the entity adds.

To that end WiFi 6 delivers nearly four times the capacity of the previous generation, with a specific advantage being able to deliver noticeable connectivity improvements in dense environments, the Alliance confirms.

According to the organisation, the key aspects that WiFi 6 serves up is:

  • Orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA) – Effectively shares channels to increase network efficiency and lower latency for both uplink and downlink traffic in high demand environments.
  • Multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) – Allows more downlink data to be transferred at once and enables an access point to transmit data to a larger number of devices concurrently.
  • 160 MHz channels – Increases bandwidth to deliver greater performance with low latency.
  • Target wake time (TWT) – Significantly improves battery life in Wi-Fi devices, such as IoT devices.
  • 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM) – Increases throughput in Wi-Fi devices by encoding more data in the same amount of spectrum
  • Transmit beamforming – Enables higher data rates at a given range resulting in greater network capacity.

“Wi-Fi 6 brings greater speeds and more efficiency to Wi-Fi networks, expanding its role as a critical communication platform,” notes Phil Solis, research director at IDC.

“Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 drives a higher quality experience for all Wi-Fi’s many use cases, further propelling the Wi-Fi market and ensuring Wi-Fi maintains its strong position as the connectivity landscape evolves,” he concludes.

As for when consumers will be able to experience the value of WiFi 6, on a smartphone at least, the Alliance says the Galaxy Note 10 will be the first device to support it, followed swiftly by the Apple iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.

For now most of the connectivity will be focused on routers, but mobile devices should begin to pick up in terms of support in the coming year.