Step By Step

posted on May. 07, 2019, at 9:00 a.m.

NKBA Staff

To take advantage of the latest 5G technology, homeowners first need better Wi-Fi. By Ed Wenck, CEDIA

The marketing pitches (and news coverage) of fifth-generation cellular technology are seemingly everywhere. The advent of 5G, blazing speeds and all, is great news for those in rural America who won’t otherwise see decent internet connections. But, as some providers have suggested, will it actually replace the modem/router and Wi-Fi system in your home?

The primary drawback — for now, anyway — is that consumers aren’t likely going to run out and buy a bunch of new 5G-ready devices (especially when connected “kitchen hubs” are just now making a splash). While a wired network in a home is a best-case scenario, a lot of folks are hanging more and more devices (beyond just phones and tablets) on their current Wi-Fi network, which can make those networks unstable.

Enter a new standard called “Wi-Fi 6.”

As former integrator Geoff Meads (now with Presto Web Design) explains, “Wi-Fi 6 is a rebranding of the next standard of Wi-Fi, which previously was expressed using a confounding string of digits and letters, namely, ‘802.11ax.’ You’ll see numbers — 4, 5 or 6 — appearing as part of the slice-of-concentric-circles Wi-Fi logo soon on a connected device near you.”

Wi-Fi 6 is an efficient use of present residential gear — for example, there’s a technique called “beamforming” that 6 can implement: using multiple directional antennas (instead of spreading a signal everywhere, like a radio tower) it can “direct a beam” to a specific point.

But ultimately, as Eric Bodley of Future Ready Solutions notes, “Whether it’s a new Wi-Fi standard or 5G, the most reliable connection right now in any home is cable, whether it’s copper or fiber.”

Kitchen and bath designers and remodelers looking to collaborate with CEDIA integrators who can offer solutions and deeper explanations of smart-home communications can find local experts at www.cedia.com.

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