Which WiFi standard to choose?

Etienne DETRIE (UK)
01 Feb 2022

WiFi standards evolve regularly, approximately every 4 years, where the frequency, range, and speed of the WiFi service is improved. With strange names like 802.11n or 802.11ac, it is no surprise that changes to the WiFi standards didn’t go noticed by the general user in the past.  Now that the standard name is more digestible (WiFi 1, WiFi 2, ...WiFi 6), WiFi all of a sudden becomes a really good way to enhance your offer.


WiFi 6: the latest certified standard

WiFi 6 (or 802.11ax) was certified in 2019. It is the latest certified standard that offers, not surprisingly, better bandwidth than WiFi 5:

  • Maximum theoretical rate of bandwidth is 10.5 Gbps
  • Better efficiency in very dense environments
  • Less energy consuming WiFi with Target Wake Time technology
  • More support for IoT devices and higher AP capacity

So, if you are thinking of deploying a brand new WiFi network for your site, there is a good chance that you will want to learn about the WiFi 6 infrastructure, as it will certainly be the best product on the market.  However, each problem has its own solution so it will be up to your current operator to advise if your property is suited for the new WiFi 6 standard!

Should we all be switching to WiFi 6? 

As with many decisions, it's a question of balance, with several considerations to take into account: 

  1. The expected functionality/service level : WiFi 6 will be really relevant to support very heavy traffic (full Giga infrastructure) in dense environments such as company headquarters or industrial sites.  You don't need to buy a 4x4 if you only drive in the city. 

  2. The customer's budget : when financial balance is a key element of the deployment, using 100% reconditioned professional equipment (WiFi 5 high density AP’s , for example) can be the right answer.  In fact, the added value of an "as a service" network infrastructure lies, above all, in the know-how and the software layers built by the operator. Let's also remember that each WiFi 4 AP can deliver between 300 and 600 Mbps,  which still meets a lot of user needs.

  3. Responsible digital awareness: continuously releasing new WiFi standards, just like Apple does every year, is no longer appropriate as it is in contradiction with the ecological shift you’re seeing in many telecom companies. In fact, the network's intelligence should encourage a controlled impact on the planet. Competitiveness and performance are no longer incompatible with ecological improvement!

I also want to point out that the issues with quality are not so much with the WiFi standards as they are with the level of expertise during implementation, configuration and supervision of the network. This approach allows us to pollute less while offering our customers a high performance multi-service WiFi in line with their needs and budget.

Should we wait for WiFi 6E ? What about WiFi 7 ?

You might also want to wait for the next standards already in the pipeline before investing. WiFi 6E will be available as soon as the 6GHz frequency band is released by European countries. Waiting for WiFi 6E is, for example, the choice made by several WiFi box providers!

Plus, WiFi 7 is already on the horizon for 2024...