It's the new(ish) wireless standard that's got everybody talking. First announced back in 2018, Wi-Fi 6 promises higher speeds, better network stability, and vastly-improved efficiency. It's that last one that'll really count, especially where smart homes and mesh networks are concerned.
The average American household now has more than 10 connected devices. As smart home technology continues to become more affordable, efficient, and widespread, this number is set to skyrocket.
Wi-Fi 6 and the internet of things – a match made in heaven
Here's where we run into a bit of a problem. The current wireless standard, Wi-Fi 5, simply isn't designed to support a network laden with connected endpoints and smart devices. As a result, the higher the number of concurrent connections, the more your performance is likely to start lagging.
Even current mesh networks suffer from this shortcoming, albeit to a significantly reduced degree.
Wi-Fi 6 exists to address that.
It's a new wireless standard seemingly designed with the Internet of Things front-of-mind. In addition to offering a top speed of more than double Wi-Fi 5, it supports twice the amount of simultaneous connected devices along with the capacity to concurrently broadcast data to multiple endpoints. Automatic check-in scheduling only further sweetens the deal, reducing both battery usage and network congestion.
We've not even gotten to the best part. Wi-Fi 6 also offers significantly improved performance at an access point's maximum range. What that means is that with the new standard, your mesh network just became even more expansive.
There's also the issue of network security, a constant concern where IoT is concerned. Although it doesn't solve all the security shortcomings of connected endpoints, Wi-Fi 6 nevertheless represents a huge leap forward with the release of WPA3, a huge upgrade to the existing WPA2 encryption protocol.
But why upgrade now?
As you've probably guessed, Wi-Fi 6 is still in its early stages. Although devices that support it are becoming gradually more common (and considerably less expensive), Wi-Fi 5 is, at the time of writing, still the reigning king. With that in mind, you're probably wondering why you should upgrade – why not just wait?
A few reasons.
First, although it's true that some of Wi-Fi 6's functionality requires both devices to be equipped with the necessary hardware, it's still backwards compatible with existing Wi-Fi 5 devices. That means that, even if you don't have a ton of new hardware in your smart home, installing a Wi-Fi 6 mesh network still represents a considerable upturn in performance and efficiency. Your network will still be capable of supporting more simultaneous connections without any lag or reduction in overall performance.
Second, although Wi-Fi 6 isn't the de-facto standard now, in the very near future, it will be. Far better to get your new mesh network up and running now rather than waiting until you start upgrading your smart tech. Far better to make sure you have the infrastructure you need before you really need it.
eero can help in that regard. Its recently-released eero 6 line of mesh Wi-Fi products offer full support for Wi-Fi 6, while also offering a ton of performance enhancements over existing mesh networks. Better yet, they're fully backwards-compatible with existing eero hardware, meaning you can upgrade your network one gateway at a time.