February 25, 2019
President Trump tweeted his desire to see 6G in the U.S. “as soon as possible,” even as the advent of 5G has yet to make much of a dent. Although what motivated these tweets is unclear, some believe it is related to Trump’s concerns that Huawei and other Chinese companies will surpass the U.S. with 5G-network penetration. Last year, some sources reported that the U.S. government considered building a national 5G service to head off Chinese competition, although if this plan did exist, it was quickly abandoned.
The Verge reports that, “confusingly, Trump’s tweets seem to be at odds with actual U.S. policy,” in that, in one tweet, he said he wanted the U.S. to “win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies” at the same time his administration has been considering blocking Chinese 5G technologies. It’s also confusing because 6G is a “networking specification that doesn’t remotely exist even on the most basic, theoretical levels.”
When queried, the U.S. wireless trade association CTIA responded that, “with the Administration’s continued backing, the U.S. wireless industry can bring more robust 5G networks to more communities faster.”
Elsewhere, The Verge reports about Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, stating that it’s the “same basic thing,” but will be more efficient, speeding up Internet connections to about “9.6 Gbps … up from 3.5 Gbps on Wi-Fi 5.” Both those numbers, it adds, “are theoretical maximums that you’re unlikely to ever reach in real-world Wi-Fi use.”
The typical Wi-Fi download speed in the U.S. is “just 72 Mbps, or less than 1 percent of the theoretical maximum speed.” But that theoretical higher speed is aimed at “improving the network when a bunch of devices are connected,” in part, by allowing routers to “communicate with more devices at once … and send data to multiple devices in the same broadcast.”
The technologies behind this connectivity are MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) and OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access), which already are in use; Wi-Fi 6 will upgrade performance.
Wi-Fi 6 will also improve battery life, due to a feature dubbed Target Wake Time, “which lets routers schedule check-in times with devices” aimed at “smaller, already low-power Wi-Fi devices that just need to update their status every now and then.” Wi-Fi 6 will also provide the “biggest security update in a decade, with a new security protocol called WPA3,” which “makes it harder for hackers to crack passwords by constantly guessing them, and it makes some data less useful even if hackers manage to obtain it.”
Devices supporting Wi-Fi 6 are just hitting the market. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor offers support for Wi-Fi 6; Samsung’s Galaxy S10 is one of the first phones to use it. The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to launch its Wi-Fi 6 certification program this fall.