Remember when the 802.11 b/g/n was the best WiFi you could get? We say “best” because once 802.11ac (or WiFi 5 as it was later renamed) was released 802.11 b/g/n really showing its age.

As with many things, folks have recently seen talk of WiFi 6 and become excited for better WiFi. While the standard will bring higher bandwidth and lower latency, the real value of WiFi 6 isn’t known to many.

WiFi 6 was first proposed back in 2017 as a way to allow for the wireless streaming of 4K content, virtual reality and other commercial applications.

But more than that, WiFi 6 could very well be a viable alternative to being hardwired into a network.

Key benefits of WiFi 6 according to the WiFi Alliance are:

  • Higher data rates
  • Increased capacity
  • Performance in environments with many connected devices
  • Improved power efficiency

One of the firms leading the charge for WiFi 6 is Huawei. Earlier this year the firm showed off its WiFi AX3 router and while it’s not the first router to feature WiFi 6, Huawei has the benefit of having a smartphone that can make use of the tech, namely the forthcoming P40.

But WiFi 6 is not just an enabler for 4K streaming, it has valuable business applications as well.

“The rapid iteration of standards, combined by the skyrocketing growth of use cases, has seen enterprise-class WiFi transform from the early ‘expansion of a fixed network’ to a total network solution that features access control servers, agile controllers, authentication systems and network management systems. Wi-Fi needs to do more than meet the demand for mobile Internet access, as it has become the backbone that supports digital transformation, streamlines production and boosts efficiency in all industries,” explains executive for the Huawei Business Unit at Pinnacle ICT, Fred Saayman.

“Wi-Fi 6 products can hugely improve the bandwidth and capacity as well as shorten the latency of traditional wireless networks. With the appropriate wireless network planning and design, any organisation can implement a cost-effective and efficient wireless network that has the ability to meet the application requirements of the future,” the executive continues.

Low latency, improved bandwidth – sounds a lot like another wireless standard, namely 5G.

Together, 5G and WiFi 6 can potentially enable things like remote mining, more efficient smart cities and other applications we can’t even dream up yet.

Huawei deployed its AirEngine WiFi 6 solution in Shanghai in 2018. The technology boasts latency of just 10ms. For comparison, our WiFi 5 router on the 5GHz band hits an average of 14 – 30ms depending on a number of factors.

Huawei’s tech is primed for schools, retail locations, airports and smart cities and its not the only firm exploring this space.

Last year we reviewed a WiFi 6 router and said that the time to invest in this technology was still a ways off of widespread adoption.

This year we’re seeing more smartphones launch with the tech including the Samsung Galaxy S20 range.

So is it time to invest in the tech?

For home users we’re going to say not yet. For enterprise and businesses, that answer depends wholly on the operation and how important connectivity is to it.

At the very least a network upgrade should be brimming in your mind, especially if connectivity is currently a bug bear.

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.