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84 PCB007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 The pros of 802.11ac are that it has the fast- est maximum speed and best signal range and can be on par with some slower wired connec- tions. Meanwhile, the cons of 802.11ac include that it's the most expensive to implement, and performance improvements are only notice- able in high-bandwidth applications. Again, 802.11 ac is now being referred to Wi- Fi 5, so if you have a router using this stan- dard, you know that you are presently using Wi-Fi 5. There is also 802.11n, which was im- plemented to improve supported bandwidth by using multiple signals and antennas and is now being referred to as Wi-Fi 4. What is now referred to as Wi-Fi 3 is much older, and while still in use, it barely used any longer; it was called standard 802.11g, and before that, there was 802.11a and b (Wi-Fi 1 and 2). In addition to the general-purpose Wi-Fi standards, there are other wireless network technologies, such as Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a low-bandwidth, short-range connection stan- dard that is very different but extremely ap- plicable for wireless device-to-device connec- tions, such as smartphones to automobiles or headsets to phones, etc. One advantage of Bluetooth is its low manufacturing cost. Wi-Fi 6 Now that we have the basic comparisons and background out of the way, let's focus on the upcoming and greatly improved Wi-Fi 6 stan- dard. With Wi-Fi 6, we get huge improvements in coverage and data transfer speeds, up to 4X presently available. This comes just in time for 5G, so getting more data, faster into your network, and then getting it faster and more reliability to your wirelessly networked devic- es seems to be perfectly in sync. Lionel Paris, director of product marketing for Netgear, re- cently stated, " …the new [Wi-Fi 6] standard is much better equipped to deal with the modern home full of connected devices. The average home predicted to have as many as 50 con- nected devices by 2023, so it's crucial to bring in a standard has the capacity to deliver great performance under increasing demand." As of the last month, all the major router brands have Wi-Fi 6 units announced, and some are now available. Netgear seems to be going all out for Wi-Fi 6 with their new Night- hawk AX8, offering eight wireless streams and 6,000 Mb/s throughput. It is not cheap at $400 and seems to already be overshadowed by their AX12, which is just available for the same price. Some of the mesh network systems are now being updated to the new standard and are re- ported to be capable of gigabit speeds across the network. Others who are offering very promising Wi-Fi 6 devices include TP-Link and D-Link. D-Link was one of the first to offer Wi- Fi 6 routers almost a year ago. If you use your smartphone over your Wi-Fi, you may often be aware that very few existing smartphones sup- port Wi-Fi 6 yet. Samsung seems to be the first to go all-in for Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. With smart- phones being the most Wi-Fi connected device, this gives them a significant advantage; how- ever, that advantage is limited to their higher tier phones for now. The new iPhone 11 is also Wi-Fi 6 capable, but not 5G-capable, but we can be sure that next year's model will be. Even though my smartphone is now almost three years old, I will wait for another year. While having one more lens on my phone camera is not that im- portant to me, having both Wi-Fi 6 and 5G support is something that I feel will be use- ful, and with most phones having both avail- able in the next year, prices for the then-out- dated models will start to come down. If you are thinking about a new phone, you just may want to wait. If you are not interested in Wi-Fi TP-Link Wi-Fi-6 router.

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