WiFi Standards



WiFi Standards Comparison

WiFi 5 WiFi 6 WiFi 6e WiFi 7
Launch date 2013 2019 2021 2024
Standard name 802.11ac 802.11ax 802.11ax 802.11be
Power and battery life - Supports TWT

Security protocols WPA, WPA2 WPA, WPA2, WPA3 (OWE)

Modulation up to 256-QAM up to 1024-QAM
up to 4096-QAM
Beamforming up to four antennas up to eight antennas

Subcarriers (Resource units) - Supports OFDMA OFDMA OFDMA
Multi-RU - No No Yes
MU-MIMO up to 4x4
downlink unidirectional
up to 8x8
up to 8x8
up to 16×16
Frequency bands 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz
Channel width 20, 40, 80, 80+80, 160 MHz Same Same Up to 320 MHz
BSS coloring - Yes

Reduced if all devices using the network are WiFi 6 and above, due to the above features.


Target Wake Time (TWT)

TWT enables devices to determine when and how frequently they will wake up to send or receive data. Essentially, this allows 802.11ax access points to effectively increase device sleep time and significantly conserve battery life, a feature that is particularly important for the IoT. In addition to saving power on the client device side, Target Wake Time enables wireless access points and devices to negotiate and define specific times to access the medium. This helps optimize spectral efficiency by reducing contention and overlap between users.


The Target Wake Time mechanism first appeared in the IEEE 802.11ah “Wi-Fi HaLow” standard. Published in 2017, the low-power standard is specifically designed to support the large-scale deployment of IoT infrastructure – such as stations and sensors – that intelligently coordinate signal sharing. The TWT feature further evolved with the IEEE 802.11ax standard, as stations and sensors are now only required to wake and communicate with the specific Beacon(s) transmitting instructions for the TWT Broadcast sessions they belong to. This allows the wireless IEEE 802.11ax standard to optimize power saving for many devices, with more reliable, deterministic and LTE-like performance. As Maddalena Nurchis and Boris Bellalta of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona noted in a recent paper, TWT also “opens the door” to fully maximizing new MU capabilities in 802.11ax by supporting the scheduling of both MU-DL and MU-UL transmissions. In addition, TWT can be used to collect information from stations, such as channel sounding and buffers occupancy in pre-defined periods. Last, but certainly not least, TWT can potentially help multiple WLANs in dense deployment scenarios reach consensus on non-overlapping schedules to further improve Overlapping Basic Service Set (OBSS) co-existence.


WPA3 Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE)



Multi-User, Multiple Input, Multiple Outputs (MU-MIMO)



Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)

The Benefits of OFDMA for Wi-Fi 6 - A technology brief highlighting Qualcomm Technologies' competitive advantage

OFDM subdivides the Wi-Fi channel into smaller frequency allocations called resource
units. By partitioning the channel, parallel transmissions of smaller frames to multiple users occur
simultaneously. For example, a traditional 20 MHz channel might be partitioned into as many as
nine smaller channels. Using OFDMA, a Wi-Fi 6 AP could simultaneously transmit smaller frames
to nine Wi-Fi 6 clients.

The Wi-Fi Alliance Whitepaper further explains the difference between uplink and downlink OFDMA.

Frequency bands




Revision #1
Created 6 February 2024 17:15:05 by bluecrow76
Updated 6 February 2024 18:49:41 by bluecrow76