What is Wi-Fi 6E? – The Ultimate Overview

Wi-Fi 6E is the latest Wi-Fi standard, being the first to support the 6GHz band. It offers faster download speeds and more bandwidth compared to previous Wi-Fi standards but has a shorter range.

If you have a Gigabit Internet plan from your ISP or over 50 smart home devices, it’s advisable to consider a Wi-Fi 6E router. Otherwise, a Wi-Fi 6 router should be sufficient for your needs.

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E, introduced by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is the forthcoming standard that extends Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax). It enables the operation of features in the unlicensed 6 GHz band, in addition to the currently supported 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

Wi-Fi 6E devices benefit from an additional 1200 MHz of spectrum available for use in the 6 GHz band, enabling operation in 14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels. This expanded spectrum streamlines network design, providing optimal Wi-Fi performance with increased throughput and wider channels. Moreover, it eliminates the necessity to support legacy devices, reducing network congestion.

Leveraging the extended-spectrum capacity in the 6 GHz band holds the promising potential for ongoing innovation in Wi-Fi user experience and connected devices. The Wi-Fi 6E standard enhances the 802.11ax network user experience by providing faster and more reliable Wi-Fi networks. These networks are specifically designed to handle increased device densities and support high-bandwidth applications like video streaming, videoconferencing, and voice calls.

Improving User Experience with Wi-Fi 6E

As the demand for connecting more devices to the network continues to rise, Wi-Fi 6E will empower enterprises and service providers to accommodate new and emerging applications. This ensures that each connected device performs at an optimum level.

The introduction of Wi-Fi 6E tackles the spectrum shortage challenges by offering additional and contiguous channel bandwidth. This support facilitates the connection of an ever-growing number of devices at unprecedented speeds. The inclusion of an additional 1200 MHz in the 6 GHz band empowers enterprises to establish faster and more reliable Wi-Fi networks. These networks will be highly scalable and resilient, featuring simplified architectures that enhance their capacity to support more users at multigigabit speeds. This holds true even in congested environments with numerous mobile and IoT devices.

Wi-Fi 6E further increases the network capacity and efficiency for demanding and mission-critical applications that require higher throughput, such as enterprise video streaming and video conference. The initial generation of Wi-Fi 6E chipsets is now available for vendors to start the development of both access points and mobile devices. Wi-Fi 6E products will be available in the next two years. As client devices (which often lag chipset development) become more widely available, organizations whose requirements go beyond the reach of 802.11ax are likely to initiate migration projects.

How Does Wi-Fi 6E Work?

Wi-Fi 6E encompasses all the features and capabilities of 802.11ax, operating specifically in the 6 GHz band. 802.11ax not only enhances network speed but also integrates innovative technologies to enhance overall network performance, especially when connecting a large number of devices engaged in high-bandwidth, low-latency applications.

Wi-Fi 6E networks will offer enhanced capacity by utilizing the 6 GHz band, incorporating 14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels. This utilization builds upon the existing features of 802.11ax.

  • 8×8 uplink/downlink MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and BSS Color to provide up to four times more capacity to handle more devices.
  • Target wake time (TWT) to improve network efficiency and device battery life, including that of IoT devices.
  • 1024 quadrature amplitude modulation mode (1024-QAM) to increase throughput for emerging, bandwidth-intensive uses by transmitting more data in the same amount of spectrum.

Realizing the Benefits of Multigigabit Internet

The primary advantage of Wi-Fi 6E lies in its potential to consistently deliver faster speeds, thanks to the extensive spectrum that Wi-Fi 6E devices can access.

The most significant distinction is that Wi-Fi 6E devices utilize a dedicated 6E spectrum, offering up to seven additional 160 MHz channels. In contrast, Wi-Fi 6 devices share the congested spectrum with only two 160 MHz channels, alongside other legacy Wi-Fi 4, 5, and 6 devices, as explained on Intel’s website. This grants Wi-Fi 6E devices a distinct advantage, allowing them to more easily achieve gigabit speeds. Wi-Fi 6 devices cannot capitalize on the benefits of the 6 GHz spectrum employed by Wi-Fi 6E.

These characteristics facilitate the smoother use of more bandwidth-intensive applications. Netgear emphasizes that having more available high-bandwidth channels translates to increased capacity for applications such as 4K and 8K streaming, virtual reality gaming, and high-definition video conferencing.

Wi-Fi 6E is set to unlock hundreds of channels, a significant increase from the current 24 available channels. Jay Myers, a wireless solution architect at CDW, describes this development in a blog post, stating that it will substantially enhance throughput. In essence, it transforms the existing two-lane country road into a four-lane highway.

An essential consideration for IT decision-makers is that Wi-Fi 6E will not maintain backward compatibility, unlike most previous Wi-Fi generations, according to Myers. He mentions, “Some vendors are contemplating chipsets that can function with both old and new access points, but we’ll still have to address the power requirements associated with those APs.

Additionally, Vallance highlights that “6E will support 802.11ax only and drop 802.11a/b/g/n/ac devices entirely.” He positions this as a benefit, emphasizing that the previous necessity to maintain backward compatibility with former generations has frequently hindered the implementation of new efficiencies.

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Using a slightly dated but well-known example, Vallance explains that clients relying on 802.11b can significantly slow down the network due to modulation changes and increased time on air. He further states, “Without these shackles, 6E will have little problem leveraging OFDMA and other capabilities that come with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)

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