A Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi 6 | T-Mobile 5G Home Internet (2024)

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From our smart TVs, appliances and printers—to our game consoles, tablets, home assistants and beyond—we love to stay connected. So, it's no surprise that the U.S. has the greatest number of smart homes in the world, about 41.3 million1, making the need for home connectivity and speed greater than ever before.

By now, you may have heard a little bit about Wi-Fi 6—which is an advanced generation of wireless technology—and how it will impact how we stay connected to all of these devices. So, what exactly is Wi-Fi 6? How is it different from past versions of Wi-Fi? How will it affect speeds? And what devices are compatible? We'll take a deeper dive into all things Wi-Fi 6 so you can get a better understanding of how it plays a role now and in the future of wireless connectivity.

What is Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi, as you probably know, is simply a wireless internet connection. At home, in order to get Wi-Fi, your modem receives data and is connected to your wireless router, which conveys a Wi-Fi signal through the air to all the connected devices on your home network (or you may have a modem/router combo called a gateway). Wi-Fi is different from wired connections that bypass your router and connect devices directly to your modem via an ethernet cable, for example.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi technology after Wi-Fi 5. The basic purpose is the same: keeping you connected wirelessly to the internet. But this technology aims to do a better job of it than previous generations. Think about it: when most homes first adopted Wi-Fi, the connection was only supporting maybe one or two devices. Thanks to the internet of things (IoT), which includes devices like smart washers/dryers, doorbells, garage door openers and security systems, just to name a few, the average American home has about 21 connected gadgets2. Trying to use old versions of Wi-Fi would cause problems since each of these devices takes up bandwidth. However, Wi-Fi 6 is designed to handle higher volumes of traffic. In other words: when a bunch of devices are connected, like smart appliances, TVs, home assistants, computers, gaming consoles, and so on—Wi-Fi 6 should be able to handle it all better than previous generations of Wi-Fi.

Which devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6?

Most new devices already have compatibility with Wi-Fi 6, including today's iPhones, Samsung devices and Google phones, as well as an array of tablets, laptops, routers, hotspots and beyond. But even if your current Wi-Fi devices are not compatible with Wi-Fi 6, they're likely backwards compatible, meaning they'll still work just like always. But to get the full benefits of Wi-Fi 6, you'll need a device that supports this wireless technology. For instance, T-Mobile's Home Internet 5G Gateway already does and you get it included when you sign up for Home Internet service (which we'll get to later).

What about Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7?

Just when you're starting to understand Wi-Fi 6, suddenly Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 are gaining traction. Don't worry. Right now, Wi-Fi 6 is still the most readily available standard—and it offers a solid improvement when it comes to keeping a lot of devices connected. But here's a quick look at what's ahead:

  • Wi-Fi 6E. While devices with Wi-Fi 6 utilize the 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums, Wi-Fi 6E has access to those, as well as 6GHz, which in theory should speed things up. Sounds great, right? Well, down the road that may be effective in keeping you nicely connected. But for plenty of techie reasons we won't get into here, 6E routers and access points are not a huge improvement on Wi-Fi 6. Plus, while Wi-Fi 6E is backward compatible with Wi-Fi 6, it may not offer backward compatibility to any earlier versions, like Wi-Fi 5. In other words: unless you happen to have a device (laptop, smartphone, tablet, router, etc.) that’s already Wi-Fi 6E-ready, you may be shelling out extra to upgrade to a new device for technology that may not be that much better yet3,4.
  • Wi-Fi 7. Like Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7 uses the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands but, with even more advanced features. Yes, it's touted as offering even more potential bandwidth than Wi-Fi 6E—and it will. Right now, only a handful of (pretty pricey) new devices are Wi-Fi 7 compatible. So, upgrading today may be premature and expensive5, 6.

T-Mobile, America's fastest growing Home Internet provider, utilizes a wireless 5G gateway that works in tandem with Wi-Fi 6 and is compatible with T-Mobile's nationwide 5G network. Right now, more than 50 million households are eligible for T-Mobile 5G Home Internet. You can check to see if it's available in your area now. If it is, take a 15-day test drive to see if it works for you.


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A Beginner's Guide to Wi-Fi 6 | T-Mobile 5G Home Internet (2024)
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