Just like cell networks have different generations, like 3G, 4G, 5G, wireless router connection technology does as well. It’s been about 5 years since Wi-Fi 5 came out, also known as 802.11ac, and due to be released before the end of 2019, is Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax).

What does this mean for your business?

It means you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the differences between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to upgrade when the next generation is released.

A company’s wireless network and the encryption and security protocols it’s using can make a big difference in the security of your network and data. At Managed IT Asia, we take a holistic approach to managed IT security, looking at all potential breach points of a network, including router protections, to help keep our clients defended from online threats. 55% of surveyed small businesses say they’ve experienced a cyberattack within the last 12 months. While the Wi-Fi version itself was last updated in 2014, the most important update coming with Wi-Fi 6 is the update to the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security protocol, which was last updated 15 years ago. (That’s two years before Twitter was launched!).

What’s Changing with Wi-Fi 6?

The WPA security protocols that govern the security mechanisms of all wireless device connections are arguably one of the most important changes happening with Wi-Fi 6. WPA was first introduced in 2003, had an upgrade a year later to WPA2, and have not been updated since, until now. With Wi-Fi 6, the new security standard that will also be released is WPA3, and it offers some marked differences from its predecessor. Here’s a timeline of the WPA and Wi-Fi technologies that have rolled out this century:

  • 2003: Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g & WPA
  • 2004: WPA2
  • 2009: Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n
  • 2014: Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac
  • 2019: Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax & WPA3

When a new version of any particular technology comes out, whether it’s an operating system or mobile technology, many companies wonder if they should just stay with what they have or upgrade. Here are some of the key updates coming with Wi-Fi 6, and they make a strong case for upgrading to this new wireless router and device technology as soon as it becomes available.

Offline Password Hacking

With the current WPA2 protocol in Wi-Fi 5, hackers have the ability to download a network’s cryptographic hash and run password cracking programs on it offline. WPA3 will protect against this. Wi-Fi 6 will use what’s called a Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (aka Dragonfly handshake) that requires user authentication at each login and makes a network resistant to these dictionary attacks and offline hacking attempts.

Automatic Encryption

The use of Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE) is one of the Wi-Fi 6 and WPA3 updates that people using public Wi-Fi will notice the most. With the current Wi-Fi 5 and WPA2 protocol, hackers with the right tools can spy on traffic connected to the same wireless network. OWE will secure this vulnerability, automating the encryption process for users to keep their data secure and additionally improving security for IoT devices connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Speed Improvements

If you’re a fan of better wireless speeds, then you’ll appreciate the speed improvements coming with Wi-Fi 6 that promise to be 20%-25% better than Wi-Fi 5. This is achieved in two ways:

  • Devices will be able to send more data in a single transmission
  • Higher order modulation, which improves the efficiency and speed of data transmission

Better Ability to Handle Multiple Devices

A technology that is used in the current Wi-Fi 5 is called multi-user, multiple input, multiple output, or MU-MIMO for short. This technology allows your router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. Wi-Fi 6 will also use the MU-MIMO technology, but it will be able to handle more devices. Routers using MU-MIMO with Wi-Fi 5 have a four-stream capability to handle different devices at a time effectively. Wi-Fi 6 increases this capability to eight-stream, significantly improving the ability to handle the increasing number of devices being connected to a single wireless network. By 2020, each person around the globe is expected to have 6.58 connected devices. (Statista) Another improvement in the way Wi-Fi 6 will handle wireless connections at the same time for multiple devices is through a feature called Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA). This technology reduces the time between data transmissions, allowing your router to utilize bandwidth more efficiently. OFDMA also allows 20MHz devices to reach longer distances.

Better Device Battery Life

A bonus feature of Wi-Fi 6 is called Target Wake Time (TWT). This feature allows your router to schedule check-in times with your devices, so they’re not continually using battery power to check in with the wireless router. This improves both battery life and helps reduce energy consumption.

Get Ready for a Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade with Managed IT Asia!

The security improvements alone make it important for businesses to upgrade to the Wi-Fi 6 technology. And, of course, the speed and multi-device handling will also help improve the efficiency of any organization’s online connections. Contact Managed IT Asia today to get an upgrade plan together now so you’ll be ready when the technology is launched later this year. Contact us today at +65 6748 8776 or through our contact form.

UPDATE: For further reading, please check out 50 Essential Cyber Security Facts for Business Owners

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