UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has increased the spectrum range available for Wi-Fi routers to 6GHz, opening the door for much faster wireless connections in the home.
This frees-up a further 500MHz of radio frequency for our phones, tablets, smart TVs and smart home devices to connect to, but notably for the first time will allow households access to Wi-Fi 6, which is the latest — and therefore fastest — generation of wireless broadband.
The new frequency will only be achievable on these Wi-Fi 6 routers, which have started rolling out commercially but are only now just becoming available to the regular consumer. However once they’re a little more widespread, this combination could withstand broadband speeds all the way up to 10Gbps — which would easily future-proof in-home wireless technology for a generation.
Currently, you may have noticed that many Wi-Fi routers display two options when you connect to them — 2.4GHz and 5GHz. These are separate radio bands offered by the router to help free-up space for enough devices to seamlessly connect to the router at once. Choosing different frequencies helps reduce congestion and keeps the latency low, allowing your connection to the router to be faster and more reliable as a result.
Also, the higher the frequency, the faster the connection. 5GHz is faster because it can transfer more data to the router in a given time period than the 2.4GHz option — though it’s not as penetrative through walls, doors and floors as a result. The exact same can be said for 6GHz vs 5GHz.
It might seem counterproductive that the faster frequency can’t reach as far as the slower ones, but it comes with its benefits. It makes the signal more secure for your home and there’s less chance of it becoming congested with other nearby Wi-Fi signals, giving you a smoother experience overall.
Right now it’s very difficult to achieve the highest full fibre broadband speeds through a wireless connection. Due to the limited capabilities of most existing routers, the only way to truly experience broadband speeds of 1Gbps in the home is to plug your device into them using a wired ethernet connection.
As mentioned above, this looks set to change with the introduction of 6GHz-capable, Wi-Fi 6 routers. Once installed, you should no longer have to run a long cable all the way through your home if you want to achieve gigabit broadband speeds.
Essentially, because it’s time. There comes a point where the level of demand for it makes it a worthwhile investment for UK telecoms providers, and that point is now fast approaching.
As Ofcom mentioned in its consultation doc in January 2020:
“Nearly 87% of UK adults have internet access in the home (as shown by Ofcom’s Technology Tracker, March 2019) and Wi-Fi plays a significant role in enabling wireless connectivity. It provides the final link between people’s routers and the increasing number of wireless-enabled electronics devices in their homes including TVs, smart appliances and connected consoles.
“The increasing availability and adoption of ultrafast and fibre broadband services, together with the growing number of wirelessly-connected devices, is driving Wi-Fi demand. Individuals’ and businesses’ expectation using Wi-Fi is rising, including the need for a consistent and seamless experience across different devices and locations.”
As the number of Wi-Fi connected devices in our homes increases each year, and as more home appliances start offering wireless connectivity, this decade is set to see a boom in the amount of internet traffic per household. The 6GHz radio band, along with Wi-Fi 6 technology, will be a welcome avenue for all of our new devices to connect to smoothly and swiftly.
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