What’s on the Horizon For Wi-Fi?

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It’s difficult to think of a technology more utilized than Wi-Fi, especially in a year that’s brought a sweeping transition to work-from-home and put a microscope on everyone’s home networks.

Plenty of families have been sent scrambling, trying to figure out how to have enough bandwidth for mom taking a Zoom meeting, children doing remote learning and dad streaming a show at the same time. But, a lot of times, it seems like the current setup is as good as it gets.

While it’s easy to see Wi-Fi as a static technology since it has become so ubiquitous in its current form, Christopher Li, Product Manager for Antennas at TE Connectivity, said big advances are coming.

“There are actually significant changes coming to Wi-Fi, but these changes you should think of as additions. The latest Wi-Fi standard typically will be backward-compatible with previous generations,” he said. “The next step will be Wi-Fi 6E – E stands for extended.”

That will allow for multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output technology, with a router able to communicate with devices at the same time in a way that should boost speeds on a network.

While that is exciting, Li cautioned the technology won’t be here tomorrow, so people considering a router upgrade should go ahead and take that step rather than hold out for a wide rollout of the next generation.

“It’ll probably become more common in 2022. To experience the 6-gigahertz band, we’ll need 6E enabled devices and access points,” he said. “There’s always going to be new technology around the corner, but we should probably decide based on our current and projected needs.”

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