The new Wi-Fi 6E standard and what it means for wireless networks in homes and offices across the United States should be understood before shopping for a new router or another Wi-Fi device.
IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) goods supporting a 6GHz wireless spectrum will be given the Wi-Fi 6E designation in 2020 by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a group of Wi-Fi platform suppliers that cooperate with the FCC and electronics manufacturers to develop Wi-Fi standards. Wireless 6E, as the name suggests, provides twice the speed and half the latency of Wi-Fi 6 and prior versions.
What’s the difference between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E?
Initially, the IEEE 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) standard was confined by law to a wireless spectrum that included the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ranges. There are only three non-overlapping channels in a 2.4GHz band, and you, your family, and your neighbors all share that bandwidth.
Spectrum congestion is likely to blame if you’ve ever had trouble staying connected to a Zoom call or had the latest episode of The Mandalorian buffer. If there are too many devices vying for bandwidth on the same wireless channel, some signals will be lost.
More than just the number of family members using your home’s Wi-Fi network is at stake here. There are only a limited number of channels available for use by all nearby Wi-Fi networks, including the one emanating from your neighbor’s wireless router.
Unlicensed usage of the 6GHz spectrum will begin in April 2020, after the FCC agreed overwhelmingly to do so. With that policy shift, routers now have access to much more available airways for transmitting Wi-Fi signals, which is a huge development.
The 6GHz band is Wi-most Fi’s significant new spectrum addition since 1989. The increase in frequency from 5GHz to 6GHz may not seem like much, but it effectively quadruples the number of channels accessible to routers and smart devices (14 new 80MHz channels and seven additional 160MHz channels). Less signal interference is the result.
For example, the first batch of routers that support Wi-Fi 6 are limited to 2.4GHz and 5GHz, whereas Wi-Fi 6E-compliant devices will be able to use all the available 6GHz bandwidth.
Wi-Fi 6E Has Several Advantages.
What’s the most basic reason to use Wi-Fi 6E? Internet rates of more than 1Gbps are possible over the 6GHz frequency. More bandwidth also means faster response times (less than a millisecond) for virtual computing sessions like online gaming and video conferencing, as well as virtual computer sessions in general. (For additional information on our testing procedures for wireless routers, please see the following link.)
Even though Wi-Fi 6E offers quicker connectivity, you’ll likely only notice its benefits when it comes to expanding your home network’s capacity, i.e., by reducing spectrum congestion. Until now, the next-generation computing experiences we’ve only seen in places like vendor showcases or trade shows were only available to those who could afford gigabit Wi-Fi across their entire home. To put it another way, imagine being able to stream Netflix or watch YouTube without having your connection slowed down by other family members or neighbors streaming their own content in virtual reality, or taking part in augmented reality business presentations.
How does Wi-Fi 6E stack up against the competition?
Any new technology that appears too good to be true generally has a “gotcha” lurking in the shadows. Because the 6GHz wireless band is shorter, Wi-Fi 6E suffers from a weakness. Longer distances and solid walls and floors of a structure can interfere with short wavelengths, making them less efficient in transmitting data over long distances.
The 6GHz and 5GHz bands are likely to be used in a real-world Wi-Fi 6E network to provide fast and stable connectivity throughout a home or business building, respectively. Also, it’s likely that future Wi-Fi 6E networks will use one or more repeaters to construct a wireless mesh network that offers the promised performance of Wi-Fi 6E even in big residences or office buildings with many barriers, such as walls and ceilings.
Additionally, Wi-Fi 6E networks will have to take precautions to minimize interference with existing licensed users on the 6GHz spectrum in the US. The Wi-Fi 6E router uses automatic frequency control to prevent interference with other 6GHz band users, so you won’t have a difficulty connecting from the backyard to your Wi-Fi network.
When you’re outside, your Wi-Fi performance is likely to be limited to the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands.
Wireless 6E Setup
Here are several ways you may get your hands on Wi-Fi 6E now that you know it is a must-have technology for the future. The 6GHz band has previously been opened to commercial use in nations like the United States, Brazil, and Korea, but many other countries have been more reluctant to do so. It is therefore likely you will see a lot of Wi-Fi 6E devices offered to US customers from now until the end of the year.
As long as you have a router and a client device that support the new 6GHz channels, you’ll have full backward compatibility with Wi-Fi 6 and other Wi-Fi standards (meaning computers, phones, smart home devices, and other gadgets that support Wi-Fi 6E). Even if your Wi-Fi 6 router is only a few years old, you’ll still need the newer, faster Wi-Fi 6E model to keep up.
While the first Wi-Fi 6E router, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, is an excellent starting point for a home Wi-Fi 6E network, you won’t be able to take full use of that cutting-edge speed unless you upgrade your devices. A Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra served as the test device for our RAXE500 device. Qualcomm’s FastConnect 6700 and FastConnect 6900 will be able to utilise the 6GHz band in any new phone that uses these technologies.
The Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (Gig+) adapter is starting to appear in a few Intel-based laptops, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 and the MSI GE76 Raider. The vast majority of modern models, on the other hand, only enable Wi-Fi 6.
Is Wi-Fi 6E Worth the Upgrade?
For the vast majority of people, the answer to this question is no. There is a significant price for being an early adopter of Wi-Fi 6E routers, as there is for any new technology. Next year, the cost of Wi-Fi 6E-enabled devices is expected to fall significantly, and the number of devices that can be connected to your router is expected to increase.
The Wi-Fi 6E router, on the other hand, isn’t going to help you much if you want to extend your work-from-home capabilities to your garden.
The bottom line is that Wi-Fi 6E routers are well worth the extra cost if you’re in the market for a new one and don’t mind spending a little more. Everyone else can hold off on an upgrade at least until next year.