Wi-Fi 6 Plays Key Role In Smart Homes

Guest written by Sarah Markham, WBA 2019


Building and retrofitting homes today is vastly different than any other time in history, as homeowners increasingly want their homes to be smart. What “smart” looks like varies across demographics and geographies, ranging from a home equipped with a number of devices that automate tasks normally handled by humans to a home in which technology is built into the structure itself, linking myriad devices while also enabling humans to operate them with voice commands or even artificial intelligence (AI).


The United States has the strongest smart home market, estimated currently to be worth more than $28 million. By 2023, that number jumps to more than $43 million per year, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12 percent. Not surprisingly, smart home penetration also is expected to continue increasing, from about 33 percent this year to more than 53 percent by 2023.


One factor that will help drive that growth is Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, which will be released later this year. Wi-Fi 6 is an upgraded standard that compatible devices, particularly routers, can use to transmit Wi-Fi signals more efficiently. Wi-Fi 6 supports speeds that are roughly 30 percent faster than Wi-Fi 5, with maximum transfer speeds of 10 Gbps.


That speed increase is made possible by combining the 2.4GHx and 5GHz spectrum bands and employing MU-MIMO technology for both uplink and downlink data transfers. The ability of Wi-Fi 6 to work on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands enables it to support existing access points (APs) – such as Wi-Fi 5 routers – while also supporting future iterations of technology.


What does that look like in the smart home? With Wi-Fi 6, a single device will be able to achieve up to 40 percent faster data transfer than is possible with Wi-Fi 5. Even 2.4GHz networks will experience increased speeds when using a Wi-Fi 6 router. Additionally, Wi-Fi 6 allows network APs to communicate more efficiently with more users and devices at once while using less power. Wi-Fi 6 routers – which already are on the market from companies like Cisco – pack more information into each signal they send, enabling them to communicate with devices faster and more efficiently.


Ultimately, Wi-Fi 6 boosts total network capacity and reliability, improving speed, performance and capacity for wireless home networking. Sales of smart home devices – think wireless security systems, voice assistants, smart thermostats, smart speakers and whole-home Wi-Fi networks – already are skyrocketing. More than 832 million smart home devices will ship this year; by 2023, that number will grow to 1.6 billion devices per year.


Furthermore, the average person today has about 4 devices, and that number is expected to grow to more than 9 devices per person by 2025. The enhanced capacity of Wi-Fi 6 ensures outstanding performance across all of those devices, while also enabling smart homes to seamlessly connect to and provide appropriate bandwidth for each device.

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