Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2: What You Need to Know

Wireless communication
March 2, 2022
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On January 5, 2022, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2. Here’s what you need to know about this announcement.

What are the new features in Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2?
The new features include uplink multi-user MIMO and three power management features.

What is uplink multi-user MIMO?
MIMO stands for multiple input, multiple output. While  the previous Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ certification program supported downlink multi-user MIMO, which enables an access point to deliver data to multiple client devices simultaneously,  Release 2 adds support for uplink multi-user MIMO that allows multiple devices to simultaneously upload data to an access point.

Imagine you have multiple individuals connected to Wi-Fi participating in a Zoom conference, an increasingly common scenario. Without uplink MIMO, each device uploads data individually, in rotation, which can introduce latency and interruptions. With uplink MIMO, all devices can upload simultaneously, which decreases latency and interruptions.

Uplink MIMO (and all new certified features) work over all bands supported by Wi-Fi 6 – 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz, enhancing the performance gains delivered by Wi-Fi 6 and 6E.

What are the power-management features?
There are three primary enhancements, broadcast target wake time (TWT), extended sleep time, and dynamic multi-user spatial multiplexing power save (SMPS), which are primarily targeted towards Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Broadcast target wake time (TWT) - Target wake time is a feature introduced by 802.11ah and included as well in Wi-Fi 6 in an improved version. This feature allows a device to “sleep” for extended periods, preserving battery life, and then wake and communicate with the access point. Broadcast target wake time allows a network to coordinate target wait times with multiple devices in the same wakeup window.

Extended sleep time - Clients may stay asleep even longer if they wish. Before 11ax, TWT clients would sleep for some milliseconds and then wake up, exchange data and go back to sleep for some milliseconds and repeat. With enhanced TWT, clients may sleep for seconds, minutes, or even hours. Some IoT devices only need to communicate back to the network once per day. In theory, they could sleep for 23 hours and 59 minutes and just wake up and do a transmission, then go back to sleep for another day. These efforts greatly improve battery life.

Dynamic multi-user spatial multiplexing power save (SMPS) - allows devices to dynamically power down and power up antennas to save power.

Will Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2 devices work with my existing Wi-Fi devices?
Yes, all Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2 devices are backward compatible, so they can communicate with existing Wi-Fi technologies. To access the new features identified above, however, both the access point and client device must be Wi-Fi CERTIFED 6 Release 2 compatible.

How can I tell if a device conforms to Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 Release 2?
You can check on the Wi-Fi Alliance website here.

What is the Wi-Fi Alliance?

The Wi-Fi Alliance is a worldwide network of companies that promotes the evolution and adaption of Wi-Fi through a variety of activities, including the certification process, which ensures that products are interoperable with other Wi-Fi certified products supporting the same standard and meets other requirements.

What is Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 is the most recent generation of Wi-Fi technology that conforms to the IEEE 802.11ax standard. It delivers multiple new features that improve performance and efficiency in crowded Wi-Fi environments and for IoT applications.

Funding Wi-Fi Innovation
As consumer, enterprise and IoT usage continues to push the envelope for new features and improved performance and reliability in increasingly challenging environments, the Wi-Fi development community continues to invest in R&D to meet and exceed these requirements. As a patent pool administrator, Sisvel helps companies that fund this R&D recoup their investment so they can perform more research to deliver even more benefits in future versions.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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