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The Wi-Fi 6 attributes that mean a new generation of secure, robust IoT connectivity

Wi-Fi 6 has attributes that make it far easier for homes and enterprise to connect to new IoT services

Wi-Fi 6 represents a substantial uplift in performance over Wi-Fi 5, offering four times higher throughput capacity and the ability to serve multiple devices with different bandwidth needs simultaneously. In addition, Wi-Fi 6 can use both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for a range of use cases. These attributes make it a viable alternative to cellular connectivity and provide users with a choice between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G.

For many, this will not be an either-or situation and they will be able to select both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 modules for inclusion in products. By doing so, an unmatched blend of low latency, high speed and continuous connectivity will be achieved. However, where there are cost or power consumption constraints or unclear needs for high end 5G performance, Wi-Fi 6 looks likely to be an optimal choice for the majority of use cases. Analyst firm Counterpoint Research sees this, stating that it believes a significant number of IoT devices will come with only a Wi-Fi module included.

For IoT scenarios, Wi-Fi 6 has further attractions and introduces its own IoT operating mode. The Wi-Fi 6 IoT operating mode has the capability to separate low power, low bandwidth devices from a Wi-Fi 6 access point using a 20MHz-only channel that works in either the 2.4 or 5.0GHz bands. This makes it ideal for connecting IoT endpoints such as sensors in automation and medical devices.

Additional Wi-Fi 6 attributes and strengths

Wi-Fi 6 has additional strengths in its mature ecosystem and the improved security it provides. The Wi-Fi 6 ecosystem is essentially an extension of previous generations of Wi-Fi so a wide range of Wi-Fi 6 routers and gateways are available, along with Wi-Fi 6 enabled smartphones. These devices are rapidly being added to, so users should feel confident that the device ecosystem is ready for Wi-Fi 6.

On the security front, Wi-Fi 6 introduces Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) which adds to the capabilities of previous version WPA2. It addresses several network security concerns for enterprises and consumers. WPA3 makes it necessary to use Protected Frames Management (PMF) which was optional in WPA2. In addition, WPA3 utilizes the Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) exchange protocol to replace the Pre-Shared Key (PSK) protocol used in WPA2. SAE is a more secure protocol for managing the initial key exchange.

Wi-Fi 6 has a significant role to play as a companion technology to 5G and between the two technologies billions of devices in enterprises, industrial, retail and smart infrastructure will connect using both cellular 5G and non-cellular Wi-Fi 6. Sometimes both technologies will be embedded into IoT devices while in other situations one or other of the technologies will be adopted.

The capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 are explored in the recent Quectel Masterclass titled ‘The benefits of Wi-Fi and other short-range technologies in IoT applications’. The Masterclass, presented by Shawn Xiao, a senior product manager at Quectel, details Quectel’s new range of Wi-Fi 6 modules and shares how they can benefit deployments. The session also explains how Wi-Fi 6 can be adopted in combination with Quectel’s 5G modules to offer superior 5G and Wi-Fi 6 performance for MiFi and CPE that are designed to ensure high-speed connections are available. To view the Masterclass visit:

Relevant resources

Wi-Fi HaLow white paper

Wi-Fi HaLow white paper

Wi-Fi 6 white paper

Wi-Fi 6 white paper