America’s physical infrastructure may have seen better days, but our digital infrastructure has proven resilient enough to handle a seismic shift in internet traffic.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become a new norm for many people. Companies who were able to make the shift have taken their entire operations online, which has put significant strain on home networks. Tap or click here to see how at-home workers could slow your internet down.
Needless to say, the influx in traffic hasn’t destroyed the web or disabled it, despite the occasional slowdowns. People with older Wi-Fi devices, however, may be left out in the cold as more businesses move online. Luckily, the FCC has approved a brand new spectrum of Wi-FI to ease the burden on networks. Here’s what we know.
Meet Wi-Fi 6 (that’s 6GHz, mind you!)
The FCC has formally approved a new Wi-Fi spectrum designed to handle the increased network traffic from at-home workers and families running multiple devices in their homes.
Dubbed Wi-Fi 6, the new wireless band runs at 6GHz compared to 5GHz, which is found in most top-of-the-line routers you can buy today. Keep in mind that this is different than 5G, which is a separate type of wireless signal used for cellular communications, not local networks. Tap or click here to see when 5G is coming to your town.
With Wi-Fi 6, connected devices will experience significantly faster load times with little lag — comparable to being plugged directly into your router. Typically, an older Wi-Fi device will buckle under a slew of different gadgets sharing its connection. A wider signal band helps leave enough room for all your devices to thrive.
If you’ve ever noticed your internet slowing down in the evening, it’s usually not because of heavy traffic in your area. Instead, it’s the fact that you and the rest of your family are all home, and all of your phones, tablets, game consoles and smart home devices are all connected at once. With Wi-Fi 6, the hope is that this won’t be as much of an issue.
And speaking of smart home devices, Wi-Fi 6 couldn’t be coming at a better time. These useful gadgets are one of the fastest-growing segments in consumer technology, and a house full of smart home devices could easily overburden an older router. Tap or click here to see all the smart home tech on display at CES 2020.
When can I upgrade my Wi-Fi?
Since the FCC just approved Wi-Fi 6 as a standard, you can expect to see 6GHz devices in stores and online later on in the year. When devices are available, they’ll be marked with “Wi-Fi 6e” on the box, which means they’ll support both the latest Wi-Fi 6-compatible devices and older devices.
That’s the beauty of Wi-Fi. In many cases, it’s backward compatible. Older devices won’t run as fast as they possibly could if they had newer antennas, but they’ll still be able to share the airwaves with your favorite gadgets.
We’d anticipate these devices will be available to purchase by late summer or early fall. This is when a majority of students will be going back to school, and should social distancing still be in effect, American families will need the most powerful Wi-Fi they can get to handle the load.