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Trends in Wi-Fi Technology

Wi-Fi – one of those technologies we all use every single day. We also probably all operate our own Wi-Fi networks at our place of business or at home – and we all typically do not even think about it for a second. Until … it’s not working as it should. If you are experiencing (frustrating) issues with your Wi-Fi network, there are two relatively new technological developments worth a closer look: Wi-Fi 6 (or, going with the official name of the underlying standard, IEEE 802.11ax) and Mesh technology (also called WMN, wireless mesh network).

If you are in need for more Wi-Fi speed / bandwidth, starting to migrate to Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax) might be of interest to you. Without going into the underlying technical details, Wi-Fi 6 offers a theoretical throughput of almost 10Gbps (Giga bits per second), compared to a maximum speed of about 3Gbps for Wi-Fi 5 (IEEE 802.11ac). As those theoretical values can only be achieved under ideal lab conditions, several well-known technology editors (including CNET and PCMag) are regularly testing new Wi-Fi 6 networking products under real-life conditions. You can find some detailed reports here and here, but in summary network speeds between 300 and 800Mbps can be achieved with Wi-Fi 6 in real-life applications, roughly some 20 to 70% more than with Wi-Fi 5. But please note, that while 802.11ax routers are backwards compatible with 802.11ac, you will only be able to achieve the higher throughput when both, router and computer or mobile device, already support the new standard.

If not bandwidth but coverage is your main concern, and you are experiencing areas with poor Wi-Fi reception in your business or residence, a Mesh Wi-Fi router may be worth the investment. These routers come with a main unit (the router itself) and – depending on the product variant – up to 2 additional units (called access points, extenders or satellites), which you can place anywhere in your house. Contrary to conventional setups consisting of routers and individual Wi-Fi extenders, the individual units of mesh systems build one consistent Wi-Fi network covering your whole house, that’s why they are also called Whole-Home routers. While you move around, your computer will always automatically (and seamlessly) connect to the nearest unit of the router system. Basically all major providers of network equipment now also offer Mesh systems, including Amazon Eero, Asus ZenWiFi, Google Nest WiFi, Netgear Orbi, TP-Link Deco and others – some of them even already providing the new Wi-Fi 6 standard (see above).

Bottom line: if you are experiencing slow Wi-Fi connectivity or even dead spots, a new router supporting the new Wi-Fi 6 standard and/or implementing the mesh technology might be the solution you are looking for…

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