Wi-Fi Cable Modem Routers Explained: Benefits of 802.11ax Wi-Fi vs 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Learn > Cable Modem & Routers > WiFi Cable Modem Routers explained: Benefits of 802.11ax WiFi vs 802.11ac WiFi

A cable modem router, also known as a gateway, is a combination device that performs both the modem and the router functions. This means that the cable modem router communicates with Internet service providers (ISP) for an Internet connection and distributes the translated digital signal (or Wi-Fi signal) to your devices. 

The modem part of the device uses a cable to connect to your ISP. But also, just like with a standalone router, your cable modem router deals with different Wi-Fi protocols. The most relevant Wi-Fi protocols you will encounter today are 802.11ax and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. These Wi-Fi standards are important to know when you are setting up your home network because they determine devices that you will need, which features they support, and your overall Wi-Fi performance. Let’s break them down. 


What is 802.11ax Wi-Fi? 

The 802.11ax Wi-Fi protocol is most commonly known as Wi-Fi 6. This is the latest Wi-Fi standard and therefore the highest performing. Not all devices support Wi-Fi 6 since it is still phasing into the mainstream, however, it is something to consider investing in since it is the newest and highest performing Wi-Fi standard on the market. 

Benefits of a cable modem router (gateway) with Wi-Fi 6:

  • Ultra-fast broadband Internet speeds
  • Enhanced MU-MIMO allows all devices to receive signal simultaneously 
  • Reliable coverage for your entire smart home
  • Lag-free gaming and video streaming experiences
  • Reliable video conferencing for working from home or remote
  • Reliable connection for online classes and learning

If 802.11ax is so great, then why do we even need to talk about 802.11ac? Because the 802.11ax standard is still so new and not all devices support the standard yet. Therefore, many of us will still encounter the 802.11ac standard regularly. 


What is 802.11ac Wi-Fi? 

The 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol is most commonly known as Wi-Fi 5. This is still a common Wi-Fi standard as Wi-Fi 6 phases into our lives and still offers good Wi-Fi performance. With Wi-Fi 5 you don’t get all of the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 but you can still enjoy wireless Internet activities on the Wi-Fi 5 standard. 

Are there benefits to having a cable modem router (gateway) that only supports Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard?

Yes! The benefits of Wi-Fi 5 cable modem routers are mostly the same as the benefits above. You can still get fast Wi-Fi speeds, reliable connection, and great gaming and video streaming experiences.

The difference is that Wi-Fi 6 is designed to cut through congestion and therefore inherently faster. Wi-Fi 6 also has a better multi-user (MU-MIMO). Wi-Fi 5 MU-MIMO capabilities require each device to take its turn receiving the Wi-Fi signal, which slows things down. The upgraded MU-MIMO with Wi-Fi 6 removes this delay by allowing your router to talk to and respond to all devices simultaneously. 

While Wi-Fi 6 is the future, you can still experience amazing Wi-Fi in your home with Wi-Fi 5 today. Especially since most of our devices are still only designed to support Wi-Fi 5. 

Whichever Wi-Fi standard want in your home, Hitron’s family of cable gateways has your covered. Get a cable modem router with the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology to help you create an ultra-powerful home network. Ask your ISP about Hitron’s Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6-enabled cable modem routers today. 

For more information on home networking solutions check out Hitron’s Learn Page.

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