There’s been a lot of buzz around the newest Wi-Fi standard dubbed 802.11ax. What is it and how does it compare to previous generations of Wi-Fi? Let’s discuss.
What is 802.11ax?
802.11ax is the newest Wi-Fi standard, officially rolling out in the second half of 2019. The successor to 802.11ac and 802.11n before that, the new standard promises faster speeds, better range, and lower latency as well as a host of other technical improvements. In short, it’s the newest, fastest Wi-Fi.
How fast is it?
Anyone who’s ever connected to a Wi-Fi network knows there are a ton of variables which determine overall speed like number other connections to the network and channel. It’s safe to say though, that no matter the scenario, 802.11ax is FAST, like 4x times faster current 802.11ac speeds. That’s around 3.5Gbps. In laboratory settings, 802.11ax has even produced speeds of 10Gbps+. Though not something we’d expect in real world scenarios, that’s still pretty stunning. And maybe the best part, since 802.11ax is designed to operate on all ISM bands, it will have more available channels, meaning 802.11ax will thrive in dense environments like stadium, airports, and apartment buildings, so no more choked networks in those crowded places.
802.11ax vs Wi-Fi 6
These are two different names for the same thing, so you’ll likely see them used interchangeably. The Wi-Fi Alliance – the non-profit organization who owns the trademark and regulates all things Wi-Fi – simply deemed this too big a leap to market the new standard exclusively under the old naming convention. So you may see some devices pushing Wi-Fi 6 and others 802.11ax but just know there’s no difference.
When will devices be available?
802.11ax has officially launched as of late this year, but as always, it takes the hardware manufacturers some time to ramp up production where the tech will be ubiquitous. Adapters and internal PCIe cards like the Intel AX2000 are already popping up in retail if you feel the need for speed and have to upgrade today. Devices like laptops with 802.11ax already fully integrated should start to become more widespread in early 2020 (stay tuned for ours available soon!) and a few smartphones were announced earlier this year. Remember though, to take advantage of these faster speeds with your new device, you’ll also need a router that supports them. And while 802.11ax routers are on the market, they’re not cheap – usually $300+. But like all tech, we’d expect that price to tumble soon.
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