Technology evolves every year, and fortunately for us, so do Wi-Fi specifications. Of course, Wi-Fi should not be mistaken for the Internet, though it’s easy to interchange the two.

In a previous post on ‘Internet vs. Wi-Fi’, we explained how the Internet refers to the network that we connect to. When you’re experiencing “slow Internet speeds,” this is actually because of the technology you use to connect to the Internet.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t higher quality streams or graphic-intensive apps that are to blame for slow Internet in your household; it’s the number of people that share your router’s bandwidth. In our rapid adoption of smart technologies, a study listed on The Verge notes that we’ll hit an average of 50 Internet-connected devices per household within “several years.” Your Wi-Fi router can only communicate with so many devices at once, so it’s this aggressive tug-of-war over the bandwidth that causes everyone’s connection to slow down. It’s also the main problem that Wi-Fi 6 aims to solve.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the newest wireless standard to date. It has three main benefits: more stable connectivity, greater speeds, and, most importantly, increased support for several high-bandwidth devices. Most of today’s commercial Wi-Fi 6 routers operate anywhere between 1 and 5.9 GHz frequency bands. This new technology boasts plenty of applications, depending on the industry. Here some of Wi-Fi 6’s biggest potential contributions.

This new technology boasts plenty of applications, depending on the industry.

Here some of Wi-Fi 6’s biggest potential contributions.

Enabling Wi-Fi Marketing for Retailers

Between wired Internet and mobile data, the latter is more expensive. Americans spend an average of $45 per month on mobile services, about 4 GB of high-speed LTE data. This is why people will take advantage of every free Wi-Fi hotspot possible. Leading digital marketing solutions company Aislelabs saw this as an opportunity to allow retailers to send personalized ads to potential customers.

Social Wi-Fi marketing is when store owners allow customers access to their Wi-Fi by having them log in via their Facebook, Twitter, or other social media accounts. This provides retailers with two valuable pieces of information: the customers’ email addresses to add to email marketing campaigns, and content preferences gathered via social media that they can use to make and show personalized ads. It’s a great initiative, but one that’s severely limited due to current router capacity. “Many individual wireless routers and other access points can support up to 250 connected devices,” says Bradley Mitchel, a computer science graduate from the University of Illinois. And that’s with poor Internet performance. While this is easily bypassed by having a lot of access points, a less expensive way to go about it is to simply have a few Wi-Fi 6-enabled routers in-store.

Allowing the Use of Digital Tools for Schools

It’s no secret that textbooks are slowly becoming obsolete, whether that’s due to their hefty price tags or our concerns for the environment.

The future of education is digital. It helps that a Gallup study points out that 57% of teachers believe that digital learning tools are more useful for teaching, with a large majority thinking that they are “more effective for engaging students with school and learning.” One great initiative born out of this understanding is the Digital World program introduced by Maryville University, where they distribute free iPads to all on-campus undergraduate students every year. Integrated with the university’s learning management system, instructors can incorporate these devices into the curriculum. Of course, Katie Geerling, a student taking Maryville University’s online cybersecurity program, emphasizes how good Wi-Fi has been essential to the success of this program:

Since it’s used on campus, the university will need routers capable of supporting thousands of devices at the same time. With Wi-Fi 6, that shouldn’t be a problem. When more schools start incorporating in-class Internet, too, Wi-Fi 6 will be the only standard that can support the needs of the modern educational institution.

Increasing Healthcare Support for Hospitals

More than any other place, Wi-Fi 6 has a lot to contribute to hospitals and other big medical facilities. A report on ZDNet highlights the system used by an ideal hospital, where mission-critical devices are segmented onto the 5 GHz band so they alone can monopolize the network speeds needed to save lives.

Furthermore, Karen Wolff, New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s former director of biomedical engineering, explains the importance of Wi-Fi real-time location system (RTLS) for hospitals:

Essentially, RTLS is responsible for tracking every device in a facility. For hospitals, these can be anything from multi-parameter patient monitors to IoT therapeutic devices. RTLS tells the staff where they are, if they’re active, and whether they’re experiencing system errors or not so they can be brought in for maintenance. The capacity to track so many devices at once is a job better suited for Wi-Fi 6’s bandwidth.

Preparing for the Future with Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 will guarantee industries a more seamless network experience anywhere, and at any time. It has even opened up a frequency that has never been accessed before. Not only will this make devices running on that band much faster, but it also makes room in lower frequencies for lower-accessing devices to experience faster speeds. Whether it’s for malls, apartment complexes, hospitals, or even a single home, it is worth upgrading to Wi-Fi 6.

Published: August 24, 2023 • Guest Author: Jane Bayfield