Wi-Fi 6 is what gamers have been waiting for
The latest version of Wi-Fi, based on IEEE 802.11ax and known simply as Wi-Fi 6, is big news across the Internet of Things (IoT) for several reasons. To begin with, Wi-Fi 6 is, like its cellular counterpart, 5G, designed for the ways we’re using data today and how we’re planning to use it over time.
More specifically, Wi-Fi 6 brings WLANs into the era where everything is connected, and where internet gateways service far more devices, demanding far more bandwidth, than ever before. For example, Wi-Fi 6 improves network speed by as much as 4x. It also does a much better job of managing network congestion and reducing latency, so there are fewer lost connections and people can enjoy dramatically better experiences when using their IoT-connected devices.
Wi-Fi 6 is designed for the ways we’re using data today and how we’re planning to use it over time. More specifically, Wi-Fi 6 brings WLANs into the era where everything is connected, and where internet gateways have far more devices to manage, demanding far more bandwidth, than ever before.
Wi-Fi 6 and the gaming experience
Support for local connectivity, at the edge of the network, means Wi-Fi 6 brings next-level performance and capabilities to a wide range of applications in the IoT, but especially in those areas that consumers experience directly. In home automation, for example, Wi-Fi 6 enables industrial-grade features in private residences, with things like outdoor, IP-enabled security cameras that can run on battery power while delivering real-time monitoring in HD/4k resolution. In home entertainment, Wi-Fi 6 delivers cinema-quality performance in home theaters, with 4k/8k video streaming, high-end wireless speakers, and video-enabled smart assistants especially in those areas – such as home automation and home entertainment – where consumers are part of the device interaction.
But if there’s one corner of the IoT where Wi-Fi 6 basically redefines the experience, it’s gaming. Simply put, all the things gamers have been waiting for are finally possible with Wi-Fi 6:
Untethered, truly immersive AV/VR experiences
With Wi-Fi 6, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AV/VR) technology can finally catch up with the artistry of what content creators and gamers envision. There’s little to no latency, so there’s a tighter relationship between your movements and what’s happening with the headset. Truly immersive experiences, without a wire, add a new level of freedom and interaction to headsets and other AV/VR gear.
Gaming consoles with seamless streaming
Game files are bigger than ever (100 GB per title is not unusual), which means gamers who don’t have fast download speeds can be forced to wait for long periods of time before they can start playing. With Wi-Fi 6 for game streaming, there’s no more waiting. What’s more, if someone in the next room starts streaming a 4k-resolution video, your gaming experience won’t take a hit.
Cloud gaming as it should be
Games that are hosted in the cloud give on-demand satisfaction, since there’s no need to download the latest updates or content. But when everything associated with the game, including saved data, is delivered and managed by a remote server, there needs to be a persistent internet connection that keeps up with the content. Wi-Fi 6 provides that reliable, optimized, persistent connection, so you can enjoy games that, in the past, you wouldn’t have been able to run on your local console, TV, mobile phone, tablet, or computer.
Wi-Fi 6 features that deliver the ultimate in gaming
So how, exactly, does Wi-Fi 6 transform the gaming experience? By using a pretty long list of enhancements that make Wi-Fi 6 a big step forward for WLAN. Here are some of the features that take gaming to the next level:
Higher throughput with 1024-QAM
Wi-Fi networks (and other wireless data transmission formats, including AM radios and cell phones), use a technique, called Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), to pack more information into a given signal. Wi-Fi 6 uses 1024-QAM, which transmits at 10 bits per symbol. That’s a 25% increase in data throughput compared to the previous version of Wi-Fi (which uses 256-QAM), and the kind of high-speed transmission needed for 4K video streaming and AV/VR.
Simultaneous access with OFDMA
Another way Wi-Fi 6 enhances the gaming experience is by leveraging advanced techniques to improve network utilization and minimize latency. Wi-Fi 6 provides network access using Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which lets multiple users, with varying bandwidth needs, use the channel simultaneously. That way, everyone can enjoy faster, more efficient service.
Less waiting with MU-MIMO
Another feature, a communication format called Multiuser, Multiple-Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), works alongside OFDMA to expand capacity, improve coverage, and increase performance in ultra-high-density environments. With OFDMA and MU-MIMO working in tandem, each access point can transmit to a larger number of concurrent clients at once, so there’s less waiting for each receiving device and the quality of the connection goes up even though there are more users.
Higher network capacity with beamforming
Wi-Fi 6 uses a transmission technique, called beamforming, to create a faster, more reliable connection. Transmit beamforming enables higher data rates at a given range, resulting in greater network capacity. So a single WLAN gateway can handle more devices at once, and gaming devices don’t take away performance from other devices connecting to the gateway. Transmit beamforming is already part of Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi 6 increases the number of beamforming streams from four to eight, and as a result substantially increases network range and throughput.
Longer battery life with TWT for low-power standby
Using a power-efficient scheduling mechanism, called Target Wake Time (TWT), a Wi-Fi 6 access point can schedule the wake time for each client, based on individual devices requirements and expected traffic activity. For battery-powered gaming devices, the use of TWT and other power-saving features means gamers can go longer between battery charges.
Industry certification for global interoperability
One of the hallmarks of Wi-Fi is that it delivers a consistent experience, everywhere. That’s because it uses standardized operation, backed by comprehensive certification programs created by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the widely backed industry organization dedicated to Wi-Fi interoperability. With 802.11ax, the Wi-Fi Alliance has, as usual, established a certification program, called Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6. Any gaming device that carries the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 logo has proven that it thrives in the diverse, densely populated environments supported by Wi-Fi6.
Put it all together, and Wi-Fi 6 can enable dozens of client devices communicating simultaneously with a single access point, using either the 2.4 or 5 GHz band. Those access points can, in turn, communicate quickly with multiple clients. The result is better service in a crowded network environment, with fewer network disruptions.
Don’t Be Late
Wi-Fi 6 is a pivotal technology for gaming, and now is the time to start putting it to work. Time-to-market is an important factor here, and nobody wants to be later than they have to be to meet consumer demand.