What is Wi-Fi 6?

The new wireless standard is poised to make big waves. Here's what you need to know. 

It's all about access

Access to applications. Access to data. Access to services. Your network has the power to reliably deliver access to data and applications to the right users across your organization. But what happens when the demand for mobility continues to increase? New advances in technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and Wi-Fi 6 are addressing the need for more mobile access. As a result, the way we’ve built networks in the past is changing for businesses of every size.

Wi-Fi 6 is leading the charge

Wi-Fi 6  (802.11ax)  is opening up new possibilities for wireless. Improved speed, capacity, and control will not only support existing applications with greater performance and improved experiences but also drive new innovations that will change the way people work. 

In order to take advantage of all of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, you will need a Wi-Fi 6 capable network. This includes both access points and Wi-Fi 6 clients. The market will soon start seeing large numbers of mobile devices that support Wi-Fi 6. Therefore, it is important to prepare your network for the new standard so you will be ready to gain all the benefits that Wi-Fi 6 offers.

What's the big deal?

Wi-Fi 6 gives you more of what you want. It will deliver speeds up to four times faster than 802.11ac with four times the capacity, enabling next-generation applications such as 4K/8K streaming HD, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) video and more device and IoT capacity for high-density environments such as university lecture halls, malls, stadiums, and manufacturing facilities.

Wi-Fi 6 also promises reduced latency, greater reliability, and improved power efficiency. With higher performance for mobile devices and the ability to support IoT on a massive scale, Wi-Fi 6 will improve experiences across the board.

Moving to Wi-Fi 6 will allow your wireless network to benefit from the following:

  • Higher capacity: Attach up to four times more devices than under previous standards through features such as orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) and multiuser multiple-input multiple-output (MU-MIMO).

  • Improved power efficiency: Using target wake time (TWT), client devices that support the Wi-Fi 6 standard will consume two-thirds less power.

  • Reduced data latency by optimizing packet scheduling - ideal for voice, video and gaming applications.

  • Greater IoT coverage by bringing the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 to the 2.4- GHz band.

  • Increased speed: 4x increase in average throughput in congested wireless environments.

  • Improved security: WPA3 certified.

Cisco Wi-Fi 6 solutions

Cisco RF ASICs

Programmable RF application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) provide you with real-time analytics as well as a platform for future innovation and capabilities. Combined with Cisco DNA Assurance, this gives you radio frequency visibility and intelligence to help you run your networks better. 

IoT gateway support

Cisco offers multilingual support and application hosting of IoT protocols to better support IoT service and expansion.

Intelligent Capture

Built-in Intelligent Capture provides enhanced issue detection and root cause analysis, real-time troubleshooting, and in-service access point monitoring with over-the-air packet capture.

Cisco DNA Assurance with Active Sensor

Cisco DNA Assurance with Active Sensor is a compact wireless device that lets you test real-world client experiences to validate wireless performance for any situation.

Flexible Radio Assignment

Cisco's Flexible Radio Assignment provides a better mobile user experience for high-density networks by automatically detecting when a large number of devices are connected to a network and adjusting its dual radios to serve more clients.

Cisco CleanAir technology

Cisco CleanAir? technology provides proactive protection against radio frequency interference and takes automatic action to avoid current and future interference.

Mission-critical network

The network is creating new opportunities for changing the way we work to become more efficient. Forward-thinking organizations are investing in wireless network to facilitate those opportunities for efficiency, innovation, and growth. As they transition to digital-ready networks, they require advanced features and security.

Ready to take full advantage of the newest opportunities in wireless networking? Cisco’s latest solutions guide you through the two-step process.

Mission-critical networks require advanced capabilities

The approach of Wi-Fi 6 is creating anticipation for what’s possible. And we want you to be able to tackle all of the excitement head-on. When you upgrade your wireless network to the latest Cisco? solutions, you’ll be prepared for Wi-Fi 6 so you can support more bandwidth-intensive applications, more IoT devices and more clients. You’ll also be able to offer advanced wireless capabilities that go well beyond traditional networking.

Automated, secure onboarding across the entire network

Cisco Software-Defined Access (SD-Access) gives you a single network fabric from edge to cloud, and allows you to set identity-based policy for users, devices, and things. Provide access to any application, without compromising on security, while also gaining insight into any attempt to access your network. Automatic segmentation of users, devices, and applications means you can deploy and secure services faster. 

Business insights

You’re already invested in wireless. Cisco DNA Spaces takes it one step further to combine wireless connectivity with location-based insights. Cisco DNA Spaces provides a simple, scalable, and standardized approach to support wireless users with location analytics, business insights, customer engagement toolkits, asset management, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) management, and location data APIs. 

Frictionless roaming

Cisco is a founding member of the OpenRoaming consortium. OpenRoaming will let mobile users automatically and seamlessly roam between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, including Wi-Fi 6 and 5G. OpenRoaming is part of efforts by Cisco, together with other industry leaders to break down the barriers between Wi-Fi 6 and 5G to support connection everywhere, seamless onboarding, more choices for access, and more secure connections.  

Cisco DNA Center

How does an intent-based network supports mission-critical deployment? Cisco DNA Center is the network management and command center for your intent-based network- both wired and wireless. Combining management, automation, analytics, and security, Cisco DNA Center simplifies network management and speeds innovation.

Cisco DNA Assurance

Your network is full of all the data you need to optimize it and manage it better. Cisco DNA Assurance lets you put that data to work without a complete network overhaul. And Cisco DNA Wireless Assurance gives you complete network visibility and troubleshooting, time savings and efficiency, and insights based on real-time and historical data to make predictions and resolve issues.

  • Cisco DNA Assurance makes it easy to troubleshoot issues and provides insight into your network through analytics.
  • Cisco DNA Center provides a single-pane-of-glass command center for both your wired and wireless network.
  • Encrypted Traffic Analytics provides visibility into the traffic crossing your network—even the encrypted traffic—to spot hidden threats.
  • Cisco SD-Access provides automated, policy-based segmentation across your access network

Cisco DNA Automation

Cisco DNA Center allows you to automate a variety of network tasks to simplify network management and achieve intent-based networking potential. Some automation capabilities include software upgrades and image management, zero-touch device provisioning, enterprise network function virtualization (ENFV), and easy quality of service automation.

Advanced solutions

The power of the network lies in its infrastructure. When you build a strong infrastructure foundation with the right products, you'll be prepared to innovate and adapt to new capabilities. 


As we approach the deployment of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G, IT is going to experience a sudden leap in wireless networking capabilities. Cisco is making it easy to refresh your wireless infrastructure, prepare to take advantage of everything Wi-Fi 6 has to offer, and go beyond the standards with additional capabilities.

Get started today, or learn more about Cisco Wi-Fi 6 solutions and products.

Cisco DNA Assurance Demo50% off Cisco Catalyst 9800 SeriesCisco Catalyst 9800 Series Deployment Guide