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Wi-Fi 6E Explained




Faster internet is constantly in demand, especially as we consume more bandwidth-demanding apps, games, and videos with our laptops and phones. If your current Wi-Fi connection isn’t strong enough to support your growing number of devices, you might be on the lookout for a better solution.

You may have heard of Wi-Fi 6, which arrived in 2019. It still does the same basic thing — connect you to the internet. But it does this with a bunch of additional technologies that increase efficiency, speeding up connections in the process.

These new technologies help mitigate the issues that come with putting dozens of Wi-Fi devices on a single network. It lets routers communicate with more devices at once, send data to multiple devices in one broadcast, and lets Wi-Fi devices schedule check-ins with the router. Together, those features should keep connections strong even as more and more devices start demanding data.

As devices become more complex and internet connections evolve, the process of delivering wireless connections also changes. That means that Wi-Fi standards — the technical specifications that manufacturers use to create Wi-Fi, need to be periodically updated so that new technology can flourish and everything can remain compatible.

So, the Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group that manages Wi-Fi nomenclature, has branded this new spectrum and the devices that can take advantage of it under a new name: Wi-Fi 6E.

WHAT IS Wi-Fi 6E?

Photo by Wi-Fi Alliance

In a nutshell, Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of Wi-Fi 6 that operates in the new 6 GHz frequency band instead of the traditional 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

It has all the characteristics of Wi-Fi 6, including Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT). The standard speed caps remain too. You’ll get 600 Mbps per stream via an 80 MHz channel, or 1200 Mbps via a 160 MHz channel.

ADVANTAGES OF Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi 6E uses the capabilities of 6 GHz to enable high-bandwidth applications that require faster data throughout, like streaming video in HD and 4K, and online or virtual reality gaming. It will also allow businesses valuable options for the expansion of their networks and networking devices.


Photo by Wi-Fi Alliance

  • It offers speeds in the gigabit range.
  • It supports up to 1.2 GHz more Wi-Fi spectrum in the 6 GHz band.
  • Up to 2 Gbps speeds are achievable in mobile phones.
  • It offers extremely low latency (< 1 ms ).
  • It offers higher capacity, hence a higher number of users are supported by Wi-Fi 6E compared to traditional Wi-Fi.
  • Less interference as this frequency spectrum is not common to any wireless household devices.
  • It supports wider channels in 80 MHz and 160 MHz BW (Bandwidth).

LIMITATIONS

Photo by Wi-Fi Alliance

To use the new 6 GHz band, you’ll need a new broadcaster (router, access point) and clients (phones, laptops, etc.) that support it. It also does not support any legacy device operation in 6 GHz, however these legacy devices are supported in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

SHOULD YOU CARE?

If you’re going to buy a gadget that will be released this year, and you’re eyeing flagship specs (whether for a phone or a laptop), there’s a big chance that it will support Wi-Fi 6E, but you also have to consider replacing your router if you really want to take advantage of the benefits of the new standard.

Photo by Wi-Fi Alliance

Your new Wi-Fi 6E compliant gadgets will work with older standards, but expect that they will also encounter the same limitations of the older standards.

The Wi-Fi Alliance launched its Wi-Fi 6E certification program on January 7, 2021, ahead of the anticipated CES 2021 and coinciding with the official release of Wi-Fi 6/6E. New devices with this standard will indicate “Wi-Fi 6/6E” or the Wi-Fi 6 logo on the packaging, advertisements, labels, and so on.

Phones that come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor support this new standard, with the US version of the Samsung Galaxy S21 being one of the first devices available. ASUS has also announced the Rapture GT-AXE11000 router, which boasts of being the first router to support such a standard. TP-Link also announced a full lineup of new routers for this year which includes multiple Wi-Fi 6E options, as well as a new Wi-Fi 6 mesh router with built-in Alexa voice control functionality.

As with any generational leap, it takes time to propagate, especially as consumers hold on to their devices longer than any previous years, but it provides some piece of mind to know that technology is prepared to meet the challenge as more Internet connected devices come online and our homes become smarter, more intelligent and interconnected.



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