Understanding the Basics of Wi-Fi 6

February 12, 2024

In the past several years, our connectivity demands have evolved with Wi-Fi 6 emerging, bringing efficiency and speed, paving the way for augmented reality, 8K streaming, and high-definition video conferencing. In this article, we delve into two key technologies within Wi-Fi 6 – Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) and Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) – to understand how they orchestrate the dance of data in the world of wireless connectivity.

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM): Unleashing the Power of Signals

Let’s start with the basics – signals. Imagine a wireless signal as Morse Code, a fundamental language of communication. However, Morse Code, in its unmodulated state, limits the data it can transmit. To overcome this, QAM modulates the amplitude or power of the signal, creating depth and allowing for the encoding of more data.

As Wi-Fi has evolved, QAM has undergone significant advancements. From 64-bit QAM in earlier standards to 256-bit in 802.11ac, and now an impressive 1024-bit QAM in Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), the density within the radio symbol has skyrocketed. This technological leap enables Wi-Fi 6 to achieve speeds of up to 1.2 gigabits per second, laying the foundation for bandwidth-hungry applications like 8K video and augmented reality.

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM): Upping the Game for Data Transmission

OFDM takes a different approach by breaking down the traditional Wi-Fi channel into carriers or “trucks.” In the past, a single channel could transmit one frame of data per user at a time. However, OFDM revolutionized this by dividing the channel into carriers, each capable of carrying its own set of data.

While OFDM enhanced efficiency, the introduction of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) in Wi-Fi 6 took it to the next level. OFDMA further divides these carriers into subcarriers, allowing for more efficient use of the available bandwidth. This breakthrough is crucial in addressing the challenge of a high number of wireless devices, as it not only enables more data but also facilitates multiple users transmitting simultaneously.

Efficiencies, Densities, and Wi-Fi 6 Advancements

The marriage of QAM and OFDMA technologies in Wi-Fi 6 has ushered in a new era of efficiency and density. With the ability to transmit more data and accommodate multiple users concurrently, Wi-Fi 6 doesn’t just meet but exceeds the demands of modern connectivity.

These technologies are the tip of the iceberg. Wi-Fi 6 continues to evolve with features like Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and the introduction of the 6 GHz range in Wi-Fi 6E. These advancements collectively position Wi-Fi 6 as a powerhouse, enabling us to stay connected in a world where the hunger for data knows no bounds.

Wi-Fi 6, fueled by QAM and OFDMA, is not merely an incremental upgrade; it’s a technological leap that transforms the way we experience connectivity. As we embrace the era of augmented reality, high-resolution streaming, and collaborative video conferencing, the efficiency and speed offered by Wi-Fi 6 lay the groundwork for a future where connectivity is limitless.

Want to learn more on Wi-Fi 6?
Troy Baietto

Troy Baietto

ANM Solutions Architect

Troy is the Solutions Architect for Arizona with ANM, helping clients align technology solutions to business needs. Prior to ANM, he was at Cisco for 19 years starting in IT as an intern and eventually becoming the systems engineer for healthcare in Arizona.



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