The Wi-Fi Alliance announced Wi-Fi Certified 6 Release 2 on January 5, 2022. The new state of the art standard for wireless communication evolves Wi-Fi 6, a standard announced in 2018 and Wi-Fi 6E, another improved version of the standard.
The Wi-Fi Alliance changed the naming scheme with the release of Wi-Fi 6 to make things easier for customers. Previously customers had to look up the supported standards of a Wi-Fi supporting device, such as a router or modem, to find out which it supported.
This changed with the switch to numerical versions: Wi-Fi 6 certified devices support 802.11ax technology, while Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 devices only 802.11ac and 802.n technologies respectively.
Then came the release of Wi-Fi 6E, which unlocked 6 GHz for Wi-Fi devices (opposed to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz for Wi-Fi 6).
The announcement of Wi-Fi Certified 6 Release 2 introduces another Wi-Fi technology that users have consider when buying routers and other devices. While it is the newest right now, devices with Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are still being sold, and it will take a while before the first devices with support for Wi-Fi Certified 6 Release 2 become available.
Wi-Fi Certified 6 Release 2 has several improvements when compared to the two previous Wi-Fi 6 standards. The press release highlights the improvements in the following way:
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2 adds support for uplink multi-user multiple input, multiple output (multi-user MIMO) to deliver smoother streaming services and video conferencing, faster uploads, and more reliable gaming. Additionally, three power management features improve Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 power efficiency, benefitting enterprise, industrial, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications. New features apply across all bands supported by Wi-Fi 6 – 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz – bringing capacity, efficiency, coverage and performance benefits to residential, enterprise, and large public networks. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 delivers the best experience with advanced applications, while providing strong WPA3™ security and promoting interoperability between Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ devices.
Wi-Fi Certified 6 Release 2 includes support for 6 GHz, which means that it supersedes both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. New features include improved Wi-Fi uplink performance by adding support for uplink multi-user MIMO. The addition enables “devices to upload content concurrently to an access point”.
Uplink multi-user MIMO improves network performance and reduces latency while video conferencing, uploading documents, and any other mission-critical applications that require greater uplink capacity.
The new version of the standard improves power management as well by introducing new power management features and improvements in Enterprise and IoT environments.
New low power and sleep mode enhancements – including broadcast target wake time (TWT), extended sleep time, and dynamic multi-user spatial multiplexing power save (SMPS)– enable power optimization of multiple battery powered devices. This trio of features allow multiple devices to receive extended sleep periods, allow for specific “wake up” times for transmitting data, and enable dynamic shut off of redundant receive chains to optimize power consumption in Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2 networks.
Internet users who are looking for a new router or other Wi-Fi powered device currently may want to wait until devices that support the new standard are released. Certification is already happening and first devices that support the new standard are expected later this year. It is unclear whether existing devices may receive firmware updates to support the new standard.