The speed of the average Wi-Fi connection has increased considerably during the last decade, but our reliance on Wi-Fi grew as well. Today, most people are used to watching high-definition video content on their mobile devices, playing online games without any noticeable lag, and downloading large files without waiting for ages. Last year, the Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes Wi-Fi technology and certifies Wi-Fi products, debuted the next-generation standard in Wi-Fi technology (Wi-Fi 6) to satisfy the demands of hyper-connected users, and this article explains everything you need to know about it.
What Is Wi-Fi 6?
Most people who are not tech geeks or don’t work with wireless networks for a living find the names of Wi-Fi standards utterly confusing. The Wi-Fi Alliance had been aware of this issue for quite some time, which is why they decided to come up with a more memorable name for their next Wi-Fi standard.
So why did they choose 6 and not 3 or 10? Because the Wi-Fi Alliance is also retroactively renaming the previous standards to bring some consistency into their naming scheme:
- 11b is now called Wi-Fi 1
- 11a is now called Wi-Fi 2
- 11g is now called Wi-Fi 3
- 11n is now called Wi-Fi 4
- 11ac is now called Wi-Fi 5
- 11ax is now called Wi-Fi 6
That’s right, Wi-Fi 6 is the same standard as 802.11ax, which is how many people in the industry referred to it in the past. Even today, you can still see some writers and vendors using the two terms interchangeably.
What Are The Main Benefits Of Wi-Fi 6?
Okay, we’ve established that Wi-Fi 6 is the next-generation standard in Wi-Fi technology and the successor to 802.11ac, but what are its main benefits? Do we even need a new Wi-Fi standard given that the current one allows us to do just about anything we want?
On its website, the Wi-Fi Alliance mentions the following key benefits:
- Higher data rates: The most commonly supported Wi-Fi standard today, 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), offers up to an impressive 6.97 Gbps of bandwidth for 8 streams. Wi-Fi 6 bumps the maximum data rate to 9.607 Gbps thanks to its support for the 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) modulation, which essentially allows it to send more information with each transmission.
- Increased capacity: There’s a chance that your current Wi-Fi router supports multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), a technology that makes it possible for the router to serve multiple users in parallel. Wi-Fi 6 introduces an improved version of MU-MIMO, enabling routers to not only transmit concurrently to multiple devices but also simultaneously receive information from them.
- Performance in environments with many connected devices: These days, Wi-Fi networks are everywhere, and the number of devices that connect to them is growing at a rapid pace. To improve performance in environments with many connected devices, Wi-Fi 6 is introducing support for spatial frequency reuse. With this technology, it’s possible to differentiate transmissions in their own network from transmissions in neighboring networks.
- Improved power efficiency: Most Wi-Fi devices rely on battery power, and Wi-Fi 6 aims to improve their efficiency by making it possible for them to wake up at other periods than the beacon transmission period. This new feature is called Target Wake Time, and it basically turns your router into a traffic cop.
Overall, Wi-Fi 6 is ready for a world where all kinds of devices — from personal computers to smartphones to smart home products — connect to the internet wirelessly. It offers greater theoretical speeds, increased capacity, and improved power efficiency, among other things.
Do My Devices Support Wi-Fi 6?
Any device purchased before 2019 is unlikely to support Wi-Fi 6 because the Wi-Fi Alliance has been officially certifying devices only since mid-September 2019.
The first smartphone in the world to receive official certification was the Samsung Galaxy Note 10, which was released on August 7, 2019. Other smartphones that support Wi-Fi 6 include the Huawei P40 Pro, iPhone 11, LG V60 ThinQ, OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy Fold, just to name a few.
There are currently not many laptops with Wi-Fi 6 support, but you can expect to start seeing them in the near future. Your best options at the moment include the Dell XPS 13 (2020), HP Spectre x360, Lenovo Yoga c940, and LG Gram 17.
Of course, buying a device that supports Wi-Fi 6 won’t provide any benefits unless you also buy a Wi-Fi 6 router. If you have a large budget, then you can go for the Asus ZenWifi AX, a powerful mesh Wi-Fi system, but there are also much less expensive options, such as the TP-Link Archer AX10, a dual-band router with full support.
The new standard or Wi-Fi is finally here, and there are already quite a few devices that support it. By connecting a device to a router that supports the new standard, you can enjoy faster connection speeds, greater capacity, and improved power efficiency, among other things.
5G In Lebanon – Everything You Need To Know
Despite its many problems, Lebanon has always seen itself as a technology hub where movers and shakers from the entire MENA region gather to change the world and make it a better place. That’s why the country has always been willing to spend money on its telecommunications infrastructure in order to support the needs of its nearly 5 million mobile users.
Currently, Lebanon is preparing to upgrade its infrastructure to 5G, which promises greater transmission speeds, lower latency, and much larger capacity. Officials, as well as businesses and their employees, have realized that the wheels of the Lebanese economy (in a world where Covid-19 is still a major threat) can only keep on turning if there is a modern telecommunications infrastructure in place, ready to enable remote working arrangements.
But what is the current state of 5G in Lebanon? Is it almost ready to be deployed country-wide, or will it still take several years for people living in Lebanon to see the 5G icon on their mobile devices? The answer to these questions may surprise you.
Major Lebanese Telcos Are Preparing For A 5G Future
Near the end of 2018, Touch, one of the two mobile telephony and data operators in Lebanon, partnered with Huawei to perform the first commercial 5G trial in the nation. The trial took place at the Grand Serail in Beirut under the patronage of the Prime Minister Designate Saad Hariri.
“At the Ministry of Telecommunications, we are determined to modernize the existing infrastructure to accommodate the latest technology advancements,” addressed the Caretaker Minister of Telecommunication Jamal Jarrah the audience, which included ministers, ambassadors, academics, and economy experts. “We began to deploy fiber optics across Lebanon, to benefit the Lebanese citizens with modern technology, in addition to expanding mobile networks to keep up with developments,” he added.
According to Touch Chief Executive Officer Emre Gurkan, the trial was a momentous milestone for the operator, moving it one step closer to achieving its long-term goal of improving the quality of life for everyone in Lebanon. Huawei was also pleased with the results of the trial, stating that the collaboration with Touch was another example of how the company is committed to working with local partners to provide tailored solutions that meet local requirements.
Not even a year after Touch and Huawei joined forces to perform the first commercial 5G trial in Lebanon, the other major operator in the country, Alfa, performed a live 5G trial at Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit Beirut, where it showcased, in partnership with Nokia and Ericsson, what its data network is capable of when combined with the latest technologies and devices.
Alfa called the live trail “the final step to 5G in Lebanon” and said that it’s ready to go live with the technology later the same year. “We are only steps away from the official 5G launch. We have established official partnerships for this pioneering 5G network deployment since 2017 with our network suppliers which are of the top worldwide,” said Marwan Hayek, the Chief Executive Officer of Alfa, during an exclusive interview with Telecom Review.
First 5G Networks Available In Lebanon
In September 2019, Touch issued a press release, announcing the launch of the country’s first 5G mobile site. In the press release, the operator claimed that it had been able to achieve data speeds of up to 1.4 Gbps at the site, with a latency of less than just 6 ms.
“Last year, we officially conducted Lebanon’s first commercial 5G trial and today we are proud to be the first mobile operator to launch the first 5G site in Lebanon, a crucial step that will soon allow us to offer the most innovative products and services to our customers in consumer, business, IoT, and smart cities sectors,” said Touch CEO Emre Gurkan.
The only problem is that the mobile site is located at the operator’s headquarters in downtown Beirut, where it’s used exclusively for internal testing and technical demonstrations. Regular Touch customers who would like to experience the benefits of 5G are out of luck, and it’s not certain for how long.
The good news is that people living in Lebanon don’t have to wait for Touch or Alfa to finally make 5G publicly available because they can simply travel to Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport and connect to its 5G fixed wireless service, which Ogero, the fixed infrastructure operator in Lebanon, launched under the patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers Mr. Saad Hariri.
“Beirut’s airport is the first in the region to provide 5G service for its passengers,” said Minister of Telecommunications Mohammed Choucair. “We thank the General Manager of Ogero and the Middle East Airlines. We hope to see an improvement not only at the airport but throughout Lebanon,” he added as he announced the news from the airport.
The launch of the 5G fixed wireless service at the airport was met with mixed reactions, with many people pointing out that the country has other things to spend money on, many of which are more important than 5G service for passengers.
Does Lebanon Even Need 5G?
The Lebanese government sees technology as one of the keys to unlocking a more prosperous future, and it believes that 5G can help foster a digital ecosystem in the country and attract successful businesses. Unsurprisingly, not everyone shares the same viewpoint, but the fact remains that there’s a growing body of research supporting the position of the Lebanese government.
For example, the GSM Association, an industry organization that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, published a study on the socio-economic benefits of 5G services, which states that the mmWave spectrum alone (one radio frequency spectrum used to provision 5G services) may generate $15.4 billion in the MENA region and contribute 1.1 percent of GDP growth.
The study also mentions several less quantifiable benefits of 5G, including improved health & longer lifespan, increase independence & autonomy, reduced pollution, increased access to education, increased access to healthcare, improved public safety/emergency response, and shorter commute times.
Clearly, 5G is an important enabler of growth that can contribute significantly to the country’s economic activity, even if there are many other areas of potential improvement the Lebanese government can focus on. By embracing 5G as early as possible, Lebanon can maintain its status of a regional innovation hub and further bolster its digital startup ecosystem, giving the country’s brightest minds one more reason to stay.