Difference Between WiFi 4, WiFi 5 & WiFi 6

The new WLAN standard WiFi 6 have become generally accepted. This article explains what distinguishes WiFi 6 from its predecessors WiFi 5 and WiFi 4.

WiFi 6, WiFi 5 and WiFi 4 – Explanation of Terms

The terms WLAN and WiFi are usually used synonymously. The differences are also very small. In principle, both stand for a wireless network.

To simplify the designations for the individual standards, the old WLAN designations have been replaced by the new WiFi terms.

In 2009 WLAN 802.11n appeared. This version is now called WiFi 4.

The successor version from 2014, then WLAN 802.11ac, is now called WiFi 5.

The new standard, which was to be called WLAN 802.11ax, will become WiFi 6.

What is New about WiFi 6

WiFi 6 is intended to make connections more stable on the one hand and to provide faster data rates on the other.

The maximum bandwidth for WiFi 6 should be 10 to 11 Gbit per second. In comparison, the maximum data rate of WiFi 5 was only 1.3 Gbit per second and WiFi 4 only managed 150 to 600 Megabit per second.

WiFi 6 distributes its maximum bandwidth over up to 8 channels. A router can thus theoretically communicate and exchange data with eight devices simultaneously.

The high data transfer in connection with the data exchange with several devices is achieved by a combination of various functions, which is hidden behind the somewhat cryptic name MU-MIMO – OFDMA.

MU-MIMO stands for “Multiple User – Multiple Input, Multiple Output”. This is to achieve a better use of the router antennas.

While with WiFi 5 the router only transmits the input and output to the respective device, routers with WiFi 6 should be able to send data to several devices at the same time. This WLAN standard also enables the router to receive data from different end devices.

The abbreviation OFDMA stands for “Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access”. This technology is used to support MU-MIMO.

This is achieved by distributing the incoming and outgoing signals better over the maximum 8 channels used by WiFi 6. This will make the WLAN network more stable, especially at high load.

In order to take advantage of the fast WiFi connection, however, both the router and the end device must support the new standard.