Wi-Fi 6E gadgets would be the quickest but. Here is why

Wi-Fi 6E gadgets would be the quickest but. Here is why

The Wi-Fi Alliance wants you to look for the Wi-Fi 6 logo.

Wi-Fi 6 is barely a toddler — now, Wi-Fi 6E is ready to provide the speedy commonplace an unique and big swath of bandwidth.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

2019 introduced us a more moderen, quicker model of Wi-Fi known as 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6. Now, after a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Federal Communications Fee is opening up a whole new band of spectrum to accommodate next-gen Wi-Fi 6 gadgets able to tapping into it. The Wi-Fi Alliance, an trade group that manages Wi-Fi nomenclature, branded this new spectrum and the gadgets able to benefiting from it beneath a brand new title: Wi-Fi 6E.

In different phrases, it has been a really busy couple of years for Wi-Fi — and the arrival of Wi-Fi 6E may be probably the most vital growth but. Here is some context that can assist you wrap your head round it. 

Let’s discuss 6GHz

Final yr, I wrote a publish about Wi-Fi 6 that explains the brand new capabilities it brings to next-gen routers. In a nutshell, it is a quicker, extra environment friendly model of Wi-Fi that enables wi-fi entry factors like routers to higher handle networks crowded with numerous customers and consumer gadgets. My convoluted metaphor for all of that was a four-armed bartender able to effectively serving drinks to a number of patrons directly.

Enter Wi-Fi 6E. It is not a brand new model of Wi-Fi like Wi-Fi 6, however reasonably, a time period that identifies Wi-Fi 6 gadgets which might be outfitted with the chips and radios wanted to function in that new mass of spectrum the FCC simply opened up.

That spectrum sits within the 6GHz band, a band that wasn’t beforehand allotted for unlicensed Wi-Fi use like the two.four and 5GHz bands already had been. So what’s so nice about 6GHz?

All about bandwidth

For instance that you’ve a gallon of milk sitting in your kitchen counter, and that the milk represents all the spectrum of radio frequencies. You’re taking a needle, jab it into the aspect of the carton, after which pull it out. A really skinny stream of milk begins to jet out a number of toes. Then, you’re taking one thing slightly thicker, like a nail, and poke one other gap into the aspect of the container. Extra milk shoots out this time as a result of the outlet is slightly wider — nevertheless it would not go as far.

You possibly can consider these two holes as the two.four and 5GHz bands. With a frequency vary of simply 70MHz, the two.4GHz band is the narrower of the 2. Just like the needle-poked gap taking pictures milk throughout your kitchen, it will probably ship knowledge at an inexpensive distance, however with such a small opening, there is a restrict to how a lot it will probably ship. With 500MHz of bandwidth, the 5GHz band represents a bigger-sized gap within the milk carton. It may ship extra knowledge directly — however it will probably’t ship it fairly as far.

That brings us to Wi-Fi 6E’s 6GHz band and its 1,200MHz of extra bandwidth. It is such as you’ve punched a gap within the milk carton the dimensions of 1 / 4. Tons of milk comes gushing out, nevertheless it gushes downward and would not journey very far in any respect.

The takeaway is that the 6GHz band will likely be greatest suited to short-range connections, ideally between gadgets which might be in the identical room as each other. In conditions like that, the 2 gadgets ought to be capable of cross enormous quantities of knowledge backwards and forwards with the complete effectivity of Wi-Fi 6.

ExtremeNetworks’ Perry Correll, who sits on each the IEEE 11ax and Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi 6 job teams, means that the quick vary of the 6GHz band and its better variety of channels is definitely “an amazing benefit” in dense, difficult environments like transportation hubs, residence models, sports activities arenas and enterprise complexes.

“In the event you’re sitting in a packed stadium with 70,000 different individuals, the arrival of Wi-Fi 6E means you are not going to be competing for bandwidth in the identical approach you used to,” Correll says. “Will probably be considerably simpler to stream the occasion to mates, order concessions by way of app, and even to seek out out which toilet has the shortest strains.”

Wi-Fi’s VIP part

“AR/VR and gaming is one other nice use case for the 6GHz band,” Correll says. “Many do not notice the high-end VR units that require probably the most bandwidth are literally tethered with cables. With Wi-Fi 6E, you not solely get extra bandwidth however cleaner bandwidth — which means it is ready to wirelessly present the upper knowledge charges required together with true mobility.”  

Wi-Fi 6 is de facto the important thing to that cleaner bandwidth, as a result of there will not be any earlier-gen Wi-Fi gadgets which might be able to tapping into the 6GHz band. That implies that Wi-Fi 6E gadgets will not have to fret about older devices slowing them down.

Let’s return to that analogy I sketched out earlier. If Wi-Fi 6 is a greater bartender that may serve numerous drinks directly, then Wi-Fi 6E is the bar itself — and it is an unique, members-only type of joint. The one patrons ordering cocktails are Wi-Fi 6E patrons which might be able to being there, and all of them help Wi-Fi 6. 

In different phrases, no person’s casting any bizarre, confused seems on the four-armed bartender as he arms out drinks, as a result of they’ve all received 4 arms, too. It is not as crowded or as noisy as different bars, and everybody’s outfitted to take full benefit of the bartender’s capabilities. It is the quickest, best nightspot on the town.


In the present day’s Wi-Fi 6 routers, just like the Asus ZenWifi AX mesh system seen right here, are a few of the most superior in the marketplace — however they will not be capable of entry the 6GHz band in any respect. Routers that may ought to start arriving on the finish of 2020.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

However will I want (one other) new router?

There’s the rub. Like that metaphorical bar’s exclusivity may counsel, you may must be a member as a way to enter. Particularly, you may want Wi-Fi 6E gadgets outfitted with new chipsets constructed to ship alerts within the 6GHz band.

Translation? Sure, you may want a brand new router — and new consumer gadgets like telephones and laptops — as a way to take pleasure in the advantages of Wi-Fi 6E.

“We’re anticipating the primary set of gadgets to return to market within the second half of this yr,” mentioned Vijay Nagarajan, vp of promoting for Broadcom’s wi-fi communications and connectivity division. “You may see a complete slew of gadgets, each on the infrastructure aspect and on the consumer aspect, and way more in a way more accelerated method in 2021.”

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That is most likely irritating for anybody who jumped in early and acquired a brand new Wi-Fi 6 router within the final yr, however do not be too laborious on your self. It is nonetheless very early for Wi-Fi 6E, and the rollout will take a while. Wi-Fi 6 solely just lately penetrated the mainstream with public deployments and help from high-profile gadgets just like the iPhone SE and the Samsung Galaxy S10. Units like people who help Wi-Fi 6E won’t develop into extensively obtainable till 2021.

In different phrases, that Wi-Fi 6 router that you just purchased on Black Friday will proceed to be a top-of-the line entry level for one more yr or so, and it’ll proceed to be an excellent router after that because of all the pieces that Wi-Fi 6 brings to the desk. The truth is, ready to improve till Wi-Fi 6E is extra extensively carried out and polished may be the perfect method.

As in your consumer gadgets — these telephones and laptops — your older-gen Wi-Fi devices will nonetheless work with routers that help Wi-Fi 6E, as a result of Wi-Fi 6 is totally backwards suitable with earlier variations of Wi-Fi. They only will not be capable of function in that unique 6GHz band.

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