In MetaGeek products, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) is supported to varying degrees, depending on the product. This depends largely on the technology used to perform data gathering and analysis.
Wi-Fi Scanning occurs when a standard Wi-Fi adapter listens for nearby wireless networks, and the information is displayed to the user in graphical or non-graphical form.
Most operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Android can ask a Wi-Fi adapter to scan for networks, and provide the returned scan data to applications for further analysis. Attached to each network is some basic information about it, such as what channel it is on, its signal strength, what type of security it uses, and some other information about it.
Access points advertise their existence and capabilities with Beacons, which is a type of Wi-Fi packet that advertises access point existence and capabilities.
To maintain backwards compatibility, beacons in the 2.4 GHz band are always broadcast at 802.11b or 802.11g data rates, so older devices can understand them. In the 5 GHz band, they are always broadcast at 802.11a data rates. This applies to 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4), 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5), and 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) networks - they always broadcast their beacons at legacy data rates.
As a result, Beacon Analysis on an 802.11ax network can be performed with an 802.11n or 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter with no limitations.
802.11ax in MetaGeek Wi-Fi Scanners
In the case of all MetaGeek products, there are no hardware limitations that restrict MetaGeek's ability to do 802.11ax Wi-Fi scanning. In some cases, products have not yet been updated to understand 802.11ax beacons, but full 802.11ax Wi-Fi scanning support is on the road map for all MetaGeek products. For current support, see the comparison table below.
Spectrum Analysis is the act of detecting and displaying raw radio frequency information. It requires a special piece of hardware called a spectrum analyzer. While most spectrum analyzers look similar to Wi-Fi adapters, they are wildly different pieces of hardware. The key difference is that while a Wi-Fi adapter can demodulate and understand Wi-Fi, a spectrum analyzer can show any type of radio frequency activity, no matter what kind of device it transmitting it. The disadvantage of a spectrum analyzer is that they cannot understand Wi-Fi data - they can only show that it is occurring.
802.11ax in MetaGeek Spectrum Analysis
Since spectrum analysis is performed without demodulating wireless traffic, so all currently MetaGeek spectrum analysis products fully support the viewing of 802.11ax activity. To see the MetaGeek products that support spectrum analysis, see the comparison table below.
Packet Capture and Analysis
Packet Capture is the act of using a Wi-Fi adapter to listen to channel, and capture all 802.11 frames from the channel. If an 802.11ac packet capture adapter is used to capture an 802.11ax client an access point conversation, it will capture control frames (such as ACK, Block ACK, RTS/CTS). If the AP and client use 802.11ax data rates (which is likely), then the PCAP adapter will not be able to demodulate and capture those frames. As a result, the 802.11ac adapter will only be able to capture the management overhead, but not the actual data frames and data payload.
Once the packets are captured, the software must be able to decode the results. This involves parsing each packet to discover who the transmitter was, who the intended receiver is, whether the frame is a retry or not, and other information about the packet. A packet analysis tool that doesn't support 802.11ax will not be able to properly parse 802.11ax frames.
Packet Capture in MetaGeek Products
MetaGeek currently relies on off-the-shelf USB Wi-Fi adapters to perform packet capture. There are currently no USB Wi-Fi adapters on the market that support 802.11ax.
Packet Analysis in MetaGeek Products
Eye P.A. does not currently support 802.11ax packet analysis, but support is on the MetaGeek Eye P.A. development roadmap, since it can open PCAP files generated from other sources (such as an 802.11ax access point).
inSSIDer 5 does not currently support 802.11ax packet analysis. Because inSSIDer 5 relies on live packet capture, USB 802.11ax packet capture must be available before inSSIDer 5 can perform 802.11ax packet analysis. We expect another product to succeed inSSIDer 5 before 802.11ax packet capture hardware is available, so we are not planning to support 802.11ax packet analysis in inSSIDer 5 at this time. Note that inSSIDer 5 does fully support 802.11ax beacon analysis.
802.11ax Support Comparison Table
|Spectrum Analysis||Beacon Analysis||Packet Capture||Packet Analysis|
|Eye P.A.||Pending hardware availability||On roadmap for future support|
|inSSIDer 5||Yes||Yes||Not planned for this product||Not planned for this product|