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Is Your Small Business Ready for Wi-Fi 6?

People collaborating at a desk

Small businesses are asking more from their internet than ever before. It isn’t enough for the office broadband connection to support a Zoom meeting. It needs to support 10 Zoom meetings at once, plus the training video playing in the background—and don’t forget the smart lights overhead!

It can be tough for older internet connections to handle that much data from that many devices. But Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, is up to the challenge. It’s faster and more secure than the Wi-Fi standards that came before it. With Wi-Fi 6, your office can enjoy worry-free multi-gigabit internet.

To take advantage of the new technology, you need to get ready—by choosing a Wi-Fi 6–enabled router, for starters. Here’s what you need to know.

What are the 4 business benefits of Wi-Fi 6?

When learning about a new internet upgrade, the first question on everybody’s mind is most often: Is it faster? In the case of Wi-Fi 6, the answer is yes! And there’s more to the story.

1. Speed – The theoretical maximum speed of Wi-Fi 6 is 9.6 Gigabits per second (Gbps). That’s nearly triple Wi-Fi 5, at just 3.5 Gbps. A high theoretical maximum is great, but it’s also, well, theoretical. Actual speeds depend on a variety of factors, including your agreement with your internet service provider (ISP). Still, Wi-Fi 6 can easily provide 2 Gig internet, which more and more businesses are opting for.

2. Multiple connection support – What’s really impressive about Wi-Fi 6 is how fast it can be with multiple devices connected to it. At the office, in restaurants, in medical offices and in retail establishments, connectivity is rising, with more devices than ever contributing to everyday workflow. Using smart devices, technology and IoT devices are essential parts of your business. Wi-Fi 6 can support a greater number of connections without slowdowns than its predecessor.

3. Battery life – Basically, Wi-Fi 6 lets devices stay powered off until it’s time to connect. That doesn’t really make sense for, say, a laptop, but can be very useful for a battery-powered IoT sensor that needs to send regular updates.

4. Security – Wi-Fi 6 is more secure. All certified Wi-Fi 6 routers come with WPA3, an encryption protocol that makes it harder for hackers to compromise your network.

Why do I need a new router to connect to Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 isn’t as simple as a software update. To set up a Wi-Fi 6 network, you’ll need a Wi-Fi 6 router. That hardware includes the built-in technologies that make Wi-Fi 6 so fast for so many devices. Two key examples are OFDMA and MU-MIMO.

  • Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) – OFDMA allows one transmission to carry data to multiple devices at once.
  • Upgraded multi-user multi-input multi-output (MU-MIMO) – In the past, MU-MIMO allowed a router to communicate with four devices simultaneously; WiFi 6 allows a router to communicate with up to eight.

How do I choose the right multi-gig router?

A Wi-Fi 6 router will get you ready to up your gig speeds—to 2 Gig, even 10 Gig. There are many router options on the market today. Here are a few things you should ask yourself before choosing one of them:

  • What is the range? In other words, how far does the router claim to reach? Compare these specs to your office space.
  • How do you change settings? Some routers require using a mobile app to change key settings. Check before you buy!
  • Is it Wi-Fi 6E capable? If Wi-Fi 6 is cutting edge, Wi-Fi 6E is bleeding edge. If you want to be ready for the next big thing, you might want a 6E router.

Even armed with research, choosing the right router for your business can be overwhelming. Your ISP may be able to help. When you’re thinking of upgrading to a 2 Gig Wi-Fi 6 network, ask your ISP if they provide a router that will take you there.

How do I make the most of Wi-Fi 6?

Any Wi-Fi–enabled device can connect to a Wi-Fi 6 network. This doesn’t mean every device can take full advantage of it.

For maximum speeds, use Wi-Fi 6–enabled devices on your Wi-Fi 6 network. Many devices on shelves today are Wi-Fi 6–enabled. The list so far includes the iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and Dell XPS 13 laptop.

If you can’t upgrade your hardware right now, there are benefits to using Wi-Fi 5 devices on a Wi-Fi 6 network. You’ll still see fewer slowdowns with more devices, thanks to Wi-Fi 6’s router upgrades.

What does it mean to be ready for Wi-Fi 6?

The past year has shown us just how much fast, reliable broadband connections matter. Small businesses across the country have taken notice—and you may be taking the steps they need to future-proof your internet. The growth of Wi-Fi 6 and other multi-gigabit network options is evidence of this.

But you can’t do it alone. Yes, small businesses can secure a Wi-Fi 6–enabled router and the devices to go with it. To truly get ready for Wi-Fi 6, however, you need to partner with an ISP you can trust. They’re the ones who will connect your hardware to the internet, so they can help find the best plan for you.

With the right hardware and an expert ISP, your small business can use the network of the future—today.

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