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The Karma is a very small revolution in tech: it’s a gadget with a data plan that makes sense, is transparent, and doesn’t try to screw you. This should not be a crazy great thing. And yet it is.

Portable Wi-Fi hotspots are, for the most part, great to use and awful to pay for. They’re tiny little devices that gives you fast internet access no matter where you are, by tapping into the same fast networks used by Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Until all our laptops have little SIM-card slots in them, this is the best way to get online in places without a Wi-Fi connection. Great! Except it costs an arm and a leg, and requires a contract, and forces you to ration yourself every tiny little megabyte. So, yeah, Wi-Fi hotspots are trying to screw you.

Karma isn’t the most high-tech hotspot out there, but unless somebody else is footing the bill, it’s the one I’d recommend, because not only is it not trying to screw you, it actually rewards you for un-screwing (AKA helping) other people. That help? Free data, both for you (for being nice enough to share your connection with someone) and for the lucky person who’s found your generous connection. Hence, “karma,” kind of.

The Hardware

The Karma is probably the best-looking Wi-Fi hotspot on the market–since it’s independent of all of the carriers, it doesn’t have to have violent branding from Verizon or AT&T or whoever, and the three Dutch founders were all formerly designers. It’s very small and light, a rounded-off square like a reverse Oreo, with a white top and bottom sandwiching black plastic. On the back is a standard microUSB port for charging–that’s the same cable that your Android phone, Windows phone, Kindle, and about a billion other devices use.

Karma says the battery lasts between 6 and 8 hours. Compare that to the Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE MiFi 4620L, one of the best hotspots on the market, which, with its standard battery, only gets 3 hours of battery life. And, of course, since the Karma charges over USB, you can plug it into your laptop and keep it going that way.

Speed: The Karma uses Clearwire’s 4G network, just like Sprint. It’s not an LTE network, like Verizon’s or AT&T’s, but it was fast enough for my uses, averaging about 8.35Mbps download speeds in Manhattan and around 3.0Mbps in Brooklyn. My home internet, for the record, gets between 12Mbps and 15Mbps, so this isn’t quite as fast, but in practice, I didn’t find the speed to be a problem at all. That said, an LTE network can easily hit speeds of 15Mbps.

Free of Contracts

Verizon’s Jetpack 4G LTE MiFi 4620L (lord, what a name) is faster than the Karma, yes. But it’ll cost you a lot; it’s designed specifically for people who will be using it all the time, and even then, it’s expensive as all hell. You’ll sign up for a two-year contract, then pay $50 for the hotspot, then you’ll pay a minimum of $50 per month for 4GB of service. If you use 1GB of that in March, you still pay $50. If you use 6GB in April, Verizon will charge you $70, since you went over your limit–even though those two months average out to less than your limit.

See? Verizon’s trying to screw you.

Here’s how Karma works. You pay $80 up front. It comes with 1GB free, just for buying it. Then it’s pay-as-you go. No contracts at all. No minimum to buy. Your service rolls over; if you buy 5GB in February and only use 1GB? You’ll have 4GB left to use in March. Or April. Or whenever. It’s a flat fee; since it never expires, it doesn’t really make sense for Karma to offer it in bulk. But it’s reasonably priced, at $14 per GB. That means 4GB of service costs $56, compared to $50 at Verizon, but you’ll save money in the long run, since you’ll only pay for the data you use and none will go to waste on less data-heavy months.

Karma is not trying to screw you. Robert Gaal, one of the founders of the company, told me that the goal was to create a “simple and honest mobile provider.” As anyone who’s dealt extensively with Verizon and AT&T can tell you, that’s a totally different approach than most carriers. The idea of just paying for what you use–it’s refreshing and crystal-clear, and, even better, will almost certainly work out to cheaper in the long run for almost every user.

Karma Hotspot Site

That “Karma” Thing

So the reason it’s called “Karma” is due to some built-in sharing features. Your Karma network is unprotected, always. Other people are encouraged to use it: they sign in using Facebook, and they’ll get 100MB of free data. Even better, you’ll get 100MB of free data whenever someone new signs in this way. It’s a Silicon Valley startup’s idea of karma, I guess. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how much free data you can get, so walking into a Starbucks and shouting “Hey everyone, sign into my Wi-Fi network!” would seem to be a way to get out of ever paying for internet again. (Though you can only host eight connections simultaneously.)

I was concerned about security; this is by default an open network. Gaal noted that most major sites–all Google, Facebook, any modern email sites, media sites like Netflix and Rdio–all use HTTPS, a secure communications protocol. Sharing is completely disabled, so you you don’t have to worry about anyone swiping your files. Basically, it’s about as secure as your local coffee shop’s unprotected Wi-Fi network–which is to say, moderately secure, assuming nobody really wants to hack you.

How Does It Work?

Really well. Super seamless and easy to set up, the billing system couldn’t be more simple, the hardware is tiny and attractive and easy to use, and the speeds were reliably solid. The “YourKarma” site that tracks your data use is very pretty and clear; it lets me know whenever anyone logged into my hotspot and gifted me with some data (though it doesn’t let you see any Facebook info you couldn’t already see) and how much data I have left. You’ll also get an email when you’re nearly out of data, which is nice.

Karma Hotspot Back

But overall, the Karma is easily my favorite Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s reasonably priced, good-looking, and doesn’t seem like it’s trying to pull a fast one on me, which is more than I can say for any of the hotspots you might find at your Verizon or AT&T shop. The “karma” element is kind of gimmicky and silly, but it’s not hurting anyone. Matter of fact, all it does is give free stuff away, so I find it hard to have too much of a problem with it.

I think contract-free is always the way to go with something you won’t necessarily use every day. The Karma is a great thing to pick up just in case; you can drop $70 on 5GB of data for a rainy day, and then the next time you’re stuck without Wi-Fi–even if it’s months later–you’ve got some data in the tank. It’s great.

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Finally A Good Tv Guide Application

I’ve been waiting for this since June 29, 2007; a good, useful, TV application for iPhone! It seems that chúng tôi [iTunes Link] made my wish come true, and even more…

Before chúng tôi (pronounce “i dot tv”), I used the mobile version of chúng tôi and although it served its purpose, it was a very unpractical web app. Then came What’s On, for which I had big hopes. My hopes just remained hopes as What’s On wouldn’t have some basic features such as setting channels as “Favorites”.

All my past frustrations are now long gone thanks to chúng tôi I downloaded this FREE app this morning from the App Store and instantly fell in love with it. According to the company’s website:

i.TV is a TV and movie guide for the iPhone and iPod touch.

i.TV helps users discover entertainment options by providing up-to-date information on television shows and movies. Users also benefit from feedback and information provided by other chúng tôi users who utilize i.TV’s community-focused features. These features enable customers to write reviews and give star ratings to visual media. In addition to this, chúng tôi allows users to directly access entertainment such as television previews and movie trailers through their iPhone or iPod Touch.

Let’s see how it works…

When launching chúng tôi it will ask you if you want to create an account. You don’t have to create an account but doing so will give you access to more features. After giving some basic information about you, it will automatically detect your location, and provide you a list of TV programs available in your area. The Zip Code detected by chúng tôi was not correct for me (it gave 92116 instead of 92106) and it wouldn’t show my Cable provider. So I manually edited my Zip Code and chúng tôi automatically refreshed the list of providers. Cox Communications was now showing up! Sweet! I chose my provider and it then loaded the TV listings of programs that were playing now.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of channels listings available so I went directly to the “settings” to create my list of favorite channels. I have about 100 channels but I only watch maybe 10 of them… I used the “hide channel” feature to hide the channels I didn’t want (goodbye MTV and other VH1 crap) and went back to the TV listing screen and here were my favorites.

I have to say that’s all I expect from a good TV listing application. I don’t need more than being able to set up my favorite channels but chúng tôi does much more than that. I’ve explored the app for a few minutes and found out about other cool features. You can rate and recommend shows and channels, write reviews, create email alerts and more.

As if that wasn’t enough, chúng tôi also allows you to browse through movies that are currently playing in theaters around you. You can search by movie title or by theater and even watch movie trailers

Although this first version offers more than I could expect, future developments in the work will bring even more with remote DVR programming, DVD rentals, movie ticket purchases and even the ability to watch full TV shows streamed directly from the source.

Alright, why are you still reading this? Go the App Store and download chúng tôi for free!

Dell Xps 13 9300 Review: The Bezel Is Finally Dead

Dell’s XPS 13 9300 takes a step back in performance, but its beautiful screen, small footprint, and near-perfect size still make it one of the best ultraportable laptops.

With Dell’s XPS 13 9300, you can mark a momentous date in laptop history: the death of the laptop bezel. Previous models killed the top and sides, but that last useless part has stuck around until now.

The story of the XPS 13 is a long and storied one at this point. When the first “InfinityBezel” version hit the scene in 2023, it set the trend for what could be done in a tiny laptop, forcing competitors to reevaluate their designs. The latest XPS 13 9300 ($1,749 at chúng tôi may not move the ball forward much in performance, but its 16:10 aspect-ratio InfinityBezel touch screen and dual biometric inputs still make a difference.

This review is part of of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing models and how we tested them. 


Dell’s 2023 XPS 13 9300 achieves full no-bezel.

Why thin bezels matter

Lest you think we’re raving about an inconsequential feature, you just have to look back to 2023, when companies were still selling laptops with so much bezel, you could sell billboard space on them. Apple’s 2023-era MacBook Air, for example, looks about as fashion-correct as disco-era bell-bottom pants and wide-lapel paisley shirts would seem during the grunge era.

Best Buy

The 2023 MacBook Air 13’s big bezel epitomized the wasted space of laptops of yore, and it looks ridiculously out of date and huge in this day and age.

For the new XPS 13 9300, Dell wisely eschews the common, narrow 16:9 aspect ratio that lowers the overall height of the screen. The company instead goes with a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for the 13.4-inch screen. The top of the screen is about the same height as that of a more conventional 16:9 laptop, such as the HP Elite Dragonfly, giving you more screen real estate without increasing the size of the laptop.

The screen itself is a beautiful 450-nit IPS touchscreen. When we say IPS, we mean actual Sharp IPS too, not the “IPS-like” or “wide-viewing angle” language companies use to describe copycat versions. This is a beautiful, top-quality display that will help you stay productive. 

Dell XPS 13 9300 Specs and Features

While the display is clearly the star of the XPS 13 9300’s configuration, it offers plenty more top-shelf parts in its slender chassis. Here are the details.

CPU: 10th gen Core i7-1065G7

GPU: Intel integrated Iris Plus

RAM: 16GB LPDDR4X/3733

Storage: 512GB Intel 760P NVMe SSD

Display: 13.4-inch 1920×1200 Sharp IPS 

Biometric Support: Realtek biometric camera in top bezel, Goodix finger print reader integrated into power button.

Ports: The XPS 13 9300 features one Thunderbolt 3 port on each side, a microSD reader on the left side, and an analog combo audio jack on the right side. Compared to the previous model, you’re losing one USB-C port and the wedge-lock port. As with the prior model there is no USB-A port. If you retain any legacy USB-A devices or just need more connectivity, it’s time to buy a USB-C hub.

Gordon Mah Ung

Ports on the XPS 13 9300 are pretty easy. Each side features a Thunderbolt 3 port. The left side has a microSD reader. The right side adds an analog combo audio jack.

Networking: Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650, Bluetooth 5

Size and weight: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.27 inches, 2.9 pounds without AC adapter

Upgradability: “Upgrades” on modern ultraportable laptops are always very limited, but Dell keeps it down to earth with a standard M.2 slot for the Intel SSD inside of it. This may seem like no big deal, but the XPS 13 2-in-1 7390 soldered its SSD. Dell’s reason (like Apple’s) is to save space and make the laptop thinner, but many have roasted the company for the move.

Gordon Mah Ung

The keyboard in the XPS 13 9300 is good ol’ traditional dome, and it feels great.

Keyboard, Trackpad and Webcam

Gordon Mah Ung

Dell’s new XPS 13 13 9300 features a single thick heat pipe, two fans plus a standard M.2 slot.

The keys are about 0.75mm wider than the keys from the previous XPS 13 7390’s. They also seem to be a little flatter. Overall, we think it’s an improvement. The trackpad is glass-smooth and support Microsoft’s Precision touchpad drivers. We essentially have no complaints here.

Gordon Mah Ung

The XPS 13 9300’s webcam is fair and far from the worst we’ve seen.

So yes, webcam performance suddenly matters again. Most models you’ll find use the 720p resolution, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Some vendors, including Dell, may employ software tricks to enhance 720p video quality. Others, including Apple, appear to be caught flat-footed with inferior 720p output. While a 1080p webcam may seems like a desirable upgrade, remember that the higher resolution creates a larger data file—which may end up getting compressed by applications such as Zoom anyway. 

Dell XPS 13 9300 Performance

For the newest XPS 13 9300, Dell takes an interesting approach for the CPU, which is actually somewhat of a step back in performance. You read that right: The performance of the newest XPS 13 9300 is step back compared to the XPS 13 7390, which features a 6-core CPU. We’ll get into how to navigate that later on.

Cinebench multi-thread and single-thread

We’ll kick off the benchmarks with Maxon’s Cinebench R15. It’s a standalone benchmark that measures CPU performance while rendering a 3D image. While it’s not a task many will do on an ultraportable laptop, it’s still a good way to gauge multi-core performance.

The keyword is multi-core, because the quad-core 10th gen Core i7-1065G7 isn’t going to beat the six-core 10th-gen Core i7-10710U that’s used in the XPS 13 7390, even if the latter CPU is a little older. Those concerned about multi-core performance in an XPS 13 may want to nab the older XPS 13 7390 instead of the XPS 13 9300.


In multi-core performance, the XPS 13 9300 takes a step back from the older XPS 13 7390. Both Default and Performance modes are shown here.


Single-threaded performance is pretty close between the earlier XPS 13 7390 model and the current XPS 13 9300.


One issue with Cinebench and other similar tests is the short run times. Because modern CPUs rely on boosting clock speeds for short periods, a benchmark that’s too brief doesn’t tell you how a laptop might run on a lengthy all-core load.

To test that, we use the free HandBrake encoder to convert a 30GB movie file using the Android tablet preset. On most quad-cores, you’re looking at 50 minutes of running the CPU hard. Performance of the XPS 13 9300 is in line with that of most 10th-gen Core i7-1065G7 laptops.


HandBrake can take 50 minutes to run on an ultraportable laptop with a quad-core CPU.

As we said before: Unless you really need to hammer an all-core workload all the time, the performance doesn’t matter that much. For example, if all you do is drive Office and a browser all day, multi-core performance doesn’t matter.

PCMark 8 Work


PCMark 8 Work tell us the CPU doesn’t really matter much if all you do is drive a browser and Office.


The new Iris Plus graphics cores in the XPS 13 9300 easily outrun the older XPS 13 7390’s UHD.

Battery life

The most important metric of any ultraportable laptop is likely its battery life. For our test, we loop a 4K video file using Windows’ Movies & TV app. We set up the laptop as if it were playing a movie on a cross-country flight. We put it into airplane mode and attach earbuds with the volume set to its midpoint. We set the screen brightness to 250 to 260 nits, which is a comfortably bright settting for an office or airplane’s daylight settings.

The overall performance of the XPS 13 9300 is quite good, with playback lasting just over 12 hours. It’s not quite as good as HP’s Spectre x360 13t, which runs to nearly 16 hours, but the Spectre has a larger battery and a “1-watt” panel.


The XPS 13 9300’s battery lasts just over 12 hours during video playback.


The Dell XPS 13 9300 enters 2023 with more competition than ever. In 2023, 360-degree designs were still unproven and very rough. Today’s versions, such as the XPS 13 2-in-1, give up nothing while also offering tablet and pen functionality. The utility of those designs are so good these days, we wonder whether the days of pure clamshell laptops are reaching their end. 

If we are truly coming to the end of clamshell laptops as the preference, we recognize that Dell’s XPS 13 9300 just might be the pinnacle of what can be done. It’s small, thin, and light, with a beautiful display and nearly flawless features. The addition of Iris Plus graphics erases a weakness with its predecessor. It’s one of the best laptops we’ve ever tested. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the XPS 13 7390 as the XPS 13 2-in-1 7390. PCWorld regrets the error.

Apple @ Work: Why Wi

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Kolide, the device trust solution that ensures that if a device isn’t secure, it can’t access your cloud apps.  If you have Okta, Kolide can help you get your fleet to 100% compliance.  They’re Zero Trust for Okta. Learn more or request a demo today.

For IT professionals, supporting remote workers can be a difficult task when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity. In many cases, employees may run into Wi-Fi issues that are nearly impossible for IT professionals to diagnose and resolve. This is because IT professionals don’t have insight into the radio frequency (RF) environment of the employee’s home, making it difficult to determine the source of the problem. Since Wi-Fi is a shared medium, there are plenty of other issues that can crop up for end users.

One example of this is when an employee’s Wi-Fi connection is slow or drops frequently. This could be due to interference from other devices in the home, such as a microwave or a smart home device that operates on the same frequency as the Wi-Fi network. It could also be from overlap with other Wi-Fi signals in the area – especially in a multi-dwelling environment. Without access to the employee’s home environment, IT professionals may have a hard time pinpointing the exact cause of the problem and finding a solution.

Another example is when an employee’s Wi-Fi network is not providing enough coverage throughout their home. This could be due to a weak Wi-Fi signal or a lack of access points in the home. IT professionals may not be able to determine the exact cause of the problem without visiting the employee’s home or having access to information about the layout of the home and the design of the Wi-Fi network. These challenges demonstrate the need for a solution that provides a reliable Wi-Fi connection for remote workers that is free of interference.

How Wi-Fi 6E and the latest Apple Devices Solve the Problem

IT professionals can now support remote workers with confidence, knowing that their Wi-Fi networks will provide the speed and reliability needed for work-related tasks. By making Wi-Fi 6E routers the standard for remote employees along with devices that support Wi-Fi 6E, IT professionals can ensure that their remote workers have the best possible home Wi-Fi experience.

Wi-Fi 6E and the latest MacBook Pros and Mac minis provide a solution to the challenges faced by remote workers and IT professionals. With improved performance and reduced interference, remote workers can now work from home with confidence, knowing that their Wi-Fi networks will provide the speed and reliability they need to be productive. Wi-Fi 6E is a brand new day for Wi-Fi, and in my 15 years of IT experience, it’s the biggest upgrade to Wi-Fi since it originally launched.

What Apple devices support Wi-Fi 6E?

To access a Wi-Fi 6E network, you’ll need one of the following Apple devices:

To set up a Wi-Fi 6E network, you’ll need a Wi-Fi router like the eero Pro 6E or a similar product that supports Wi-Fi 6E and has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands enabled. For optimal performance, it’s recommended to use a single network name (SSID) across all bands, including the 6GHz band.

For the best experience with Apple devices, your Wi-Fi router should have a single network name that covers all wireless bands: 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E. This ensures that the network provides seamless and consistent performance.

Apple @ Work is brought to you by Kolide, the device trust solution that ensures that if a device isn’t secure, it can’t access your cloud apps.  If you have Okta, Kolide can help you get your fleet to 100% compliance.  They’re Zero Trust for Okta. Learn more or request a demo today.

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A New Climate Report Finally Highlights The Importance Of Our Decisions

While the goals of the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report have been more or less the same since its inception in the 1990s—to underline “the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation”—its exact content has varied throughout the years. The last iteration of the report, released in 2014, listed population growth as one of the major factors behind climate change, something the scientific community now adamantly rejects.

This week, the IPCC released the third and final part of the latest version of the report, which focuses on the mitigation of climate change. It brings something new to the table: the importance of shifting society’s demand for products and services, and how that can lower emissions. This is the first time that the report has zeroed in on how people’s behavior can make a difference.

“This assessment report shows that many people care about nature, the environment and other people and are motivated to engage in climate actions,” says Linda Steg, an IPCC author and professor of environmental psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “Yet they may face barriers to act, which can be removed by actions, for example, by industry, businesses, and governments.”

Demand-side mitigation, explained

While a lot of discussion about climate change and energy use is centered around replacing the energy we use currently with a cleaner substitute, the new report shows that by 2050, demand-side strategies (or ideas and technologies that could lower how much energy is required to keep the world up and running) could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by a huge chunk. 

The report analyzed 60 actions that could reduce individual carbon footprints, and found that the largest potential existed in individual motility—demonstrating that switching from a car to walking or cycling could save two tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita per year. Other choices, such as reducing air travel, shifting to public transport, and shifting  toward plant-based diets also make an impact. Of course, none of this is particularly groundbreaking—nevertheless, it still can be expensive and incredibly difficult for individuals to take these steps without support.

[Related: Climate action is a ‘now or never’ situation, IPCC warns.]

Lowering our demand on energy also has a lot of positive outcomes. The report found that Decent Living Standards (DLS), described first in the 1993’s Human Development Report as “capability of living a healthy life, guaranteeing physical and social mobility, communicating and participating in the life of the community (including consumption),” is entirely possible under a less energy-demanding system. For people in poverty or in low-income nations, demand-side reductions could also help increase access to low-emissions energy and better housing standards.

Another crucial thing about demand-side reduction mitigation is that it’s also within “planetary boundaries,” meaning the environmental risks are significantly smaller when we’re reducing a footprint versus building the infrastructure needed to keep supplying demand, according to the report. This could potentially even make certain technologies meant for removing carbon dioxide, like Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage, less relevant, the report states.

Of course, societal changes don’t happen overnight—and in reality, people need policies and support to make climate-friendly choices easy. 

We need policies to get us there

“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behavior can result in a 40-70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla in a statement. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”

[Related: Why is it so expensive to eat sustainably?]

Still, the report leaves out a chunk of Chapter 5 that had been leaked previously to the Guardian that included information on the social science side of climate change—or basically, how politics and high-carbon industries have made it more strenuous to take climate action. Their findings demonstrate how “vested interests,” such as the fossil fuel industry, have been pushing back against climate change policy through factors like “structural barriers, an incremental rather than systemic approach, lack of coordination, inertia, lock-in to infrastructure and assets, and lock-in as a consequence of vested interests, regulatory inertia, and lack of technological capabilities and human resources.” Basically, big players know plenty about the climate problem—it’s just that they haven’t done anything about it. 

“Back in the 80s, we believed in the information deficit model of social change, and that if we could only get the information to policymakers they would do the right thing,” atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira, senior scientist for Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy, told The Guardian. “And now we see that really it’s not about information deficit, it’s about power relations, and people wanting to keep economic and political power. And so just telling people some more climate science isn’t going to help anything.”

Making The Grade: How Wi

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) promises to bring a lot of changes to enterprise networking in 2023 and beyond. While none of Apple’s devices yet support it, it’s just a matter of time, and it’s important for IT administrators to begin planning for how the latest 802.11 standard from the IEEE will impact networks. While 802.11ac was focused on raw speed, Wi-Fi 6 and 802.11ax is focused on capacity and optimization. I’ll refer to the technology as Wi-Fi 6 for the remainder of the article, but it’s simply the marketing name the Wi-Fi Alliance has given 802.11ax.

Apple is traditionally a year behind a lot of the industry in adopting the latest Wi-Fi chips and other networking standards, and I don’t expect Wi-Fi 6 support across the Mac, iPad, and iPhone lineup until 2023 (but I’d love to be surprised). I believe this is largely due to Apple’s scale at purchasing, lead time for manufacturing, and waiting for additional optimizations from chip manufacturers.

With that being said, I do think it’s important to be thinking about Wi-Fi 6 if you are building a new network using E-rate funds or building a new campus. When I am building a Wi-Fi network, I like to plan for at least four years of use, so planning ahead for the latest Wi-Fi spec is ideal.

Why Wi-Fi 6 is Needed

802.11ac brought immense speed increases to our Wi-Fi networks. For the first time, we were getting wired networking type speeds over Wi-Fi. It has served us extremely well. I can’t remember the last time I actually plugged into a wired ethernet connection. A well designed 802.11ac network blew away anything that 802.11n could offer. 802.11ac was conceived before the rapid growth of mobile devices, though. While it worked very well with smartphones and tablets, there was a lot still to be done.

Wi-Fi 6 Brings Capacity

Wi-Fi 6 addresses some key problems with Wi-Fi connections. One of the main ones is increasing capacity for dense environments. Setting up a Wi-Fi connection in your home is relatively easy. Unless you live in a multi-dwelling unit, it’s really one thing you can’t really screw up.

Designing Wi-Fi for the enterprise is entirely another process. You have to be concerned with co-channel interference, roaming, and other complicated issues. One of the biggest challenges at the moment is designing for capacity. As I write this article, I am at a hotel with my family. Between all five of us, we have eight Wi-Fi enabled devices. If you multiply this out by every guest in a hotel, you get a picture of capacity concerns. So how does Wi-Fi 6 address capacity?

OFDMA is one of the key pieces of technology in Wi-Fi 6. A 20 MHz channel can be partitioned into as many as nine smaller channels in Wi-Fi 6. Using OFDMA, a Wi-Fi 6 access point could simultaneously transmit small frames to nine 802.11ax enabled clients. One thing to remember as well is that Wi-Fi 6 brings back 2.4 GHz support. 802.11ac was 5 GHz only. While I do prefer the 5 GHz band (a minimum of 19 non-overlapping channels vs 3 for 2.4 GHz), 2.4 GHz is still popular due to its low cost and battery life.

How Wi-Fi 6 Helps Connected Devices

Another key piece of the Wi-Fi 6 puzzle is called Target Wake Time (TWT). TWT allows clients to negotiate when and how often they will wake up to send or receive data. TWT increases device sleep time and, in turn, substantially improves battery life. Target Wake Time (TWT) will be very useful for both mobile devices and IoT devices (smart home). IoT style Wi-Fi 6 clients could potentially sleep for hours/days at a time to conserve battery life.

When Should You Upgrade to Wi-Fi 6?

If you are building a new network for your enterprise, I would recommend to start purchasing Wi-Fi 6/802.11ax access points today. While many clients haven’t been released yet, it still makes sense to begin planning ahead. If you design a network to last four to five years, you’ll be getting ahead of the curve. I expect 2023 to be a year when clients start to trickle out, and 2023 when it explodes.

For home users, we started to see news of routers with Wi-Fi 6 technology announced late last year. I expect more news in the coming months. It’ll be interesting to see when upgraded Google WiFi and eero systems hit the market.

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