Wi-Fi Alliance launches Wi-Fi Certified 6 program

The Wi-Fi industry expects wider adoption of Wi-Fi 6 with the advent of the certification program. (Pixabay)

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced that its Wi-Fi Certified 6 certification program is now available, ensuring products that successfully go through the program meet the highest standards for security and interoperability.

Wi-Fi Certified 6 delivers nearly four times the capacity of Wi-Fi 5, and includes other advancements, including orthogonal frequency division multiple access (OFDMA), multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO), target wake time and 1024 QAM.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is the first Wi-Fi Certified 6 smartphone, and the alliance expects most leading phones and access points will support the latest generation of Wi-Fi. Certification from the alliance is not required for companies to sell products, but it provides a level of confidence that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

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The momentum has been building for quite some time and like previous iterations of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Certified 6 will serve as an inflection point for broader adoption of the technology, according to Kevin Robinson, vice president of marketing for Wi-Fi Alliance.

“Wi-Fi 6 delivers some of the greatest advancements in Wi-Fi in the past 20 some years,” Robinson said in an interview. With previous generations, speed was a big deal, but Wi-Fi 6 is more focused on the aggregate performance of the network and making sure all gadgets on the network are getting the level of service they need. The collection of features—OFMDA, target wake-up time and more—really let the network serve the diverse set of devices it’s likely to see in the most optimal way, he said.

Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), whose members include AT&T, BT and Google, said his organization is offering Wi-Fi 6 deployment guidelines to smooth the transition.

“This is the point at which Wi-Fi 6 starts to become mainstream - it's the end of the beginning,” Rodrigues said in a statement. “Up until now, Wi-Fi 6 has been the domain of pioneers and pilots, including some of our members like Korea Telekom, SK Telekom, Cisco and Boingo Wireless. Those pilots and early deployments have been happening for some time, but now with the launch of Wi-Fi 6 Certified, a much larger volume of wireless operators and enterprises will be more confident investing in Wi-Fi 6 devices and infrastructure, which ultimately benefits businesses and consumers. This will likely create a virtuous circle, where hardware manufacturers and service providers will likewise become more focused on addressing the growing appetite for Wi-Fi 6.”

AT&T, Boingo Wireless, Qualcomm Technologies, Broadcom, Ruckus, Cisco, Intel, Samsung and Comcast are among the companies voicing their support for the new certification program.

While some suppliers already introduced Wi-Fi 6 to the market, a great deal of them wait for the certification program to be available before releasing their products.

The latest iPhones, unveiled last week, include Wi-Fi 6. Apple in the past has certified some of its devices but it’s not certain what it plans to certify going forward.

RELATED: Wi-Fi Alliance debuts Wi-Fi 6 to identify 802.11ax products

About that name: The question occasionally comes up as to whether the Wi-Fi industry coined the “6” to get a leg up on cellular’s 5G. Robinson said the fact of the matter is, Wi-Fi was on its sixth version of the technology, and that’s all there is to it. The Wi-Fi Alliance last year introduced Wi-Fi 6 as the industry designation for products and networks that support the generation of Wi-Fi based on 802.11ax technology.