The Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing new terminology to distinguish forthcoming Wi-Fi 6 devices that are capable of 6 GHz operation, an important portion of unlicensed spectrum that may soon be made available by regulators around the world.
Wi-Fi 6E brings a common industry name for Wi-Fi users to identify devices that will offer the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 – including higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates – extended into the 6 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to become available following 6 GHz regulatory approvals, utilizing this additional spectrum.
Wi-Fi is ready to utilize 6 GHz spectrum as it becomes available around the world. Wi-Fi Alliance continues to support international advocacy efforts to make this additional spectrum available to Wi-Fi users, while also protecting existing devices in the band. Wi-Fi has been recognized as a necessary complement to delivering 5G. 6 GHz is well suited to facilitate Wi-Fi’s continued growth in these areas due to its adjacency to 5 GHz where Wi-Fi already operates, greater availability of wider channel sizes, and accessibility to clear spectrum with less interference from legacy Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 devices.
Once 6 GHz is made available by regulators, analysts predict the first Wi-Fi devices to use the band will include Wi-Fi 6E consumer access points and smartphones, followed by enterprise-grade access points. Industrial environments are also expected to see strong adoption from Wi-Fi 6E to deliver applications including machine analytics, remote maintenance, or virtual employee training. Wi-Fi 6E will utilize 6 GHz to deliver augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) use cases for consumer, enterprise, and industrial environments.
“6 GHz will help address the growing need for Wi-Fi spectrum capacity to ensure Wi-Fi users continue to receive the same great user experience with their devices,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance. “Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing Wi-Fi 6E now to ensure the industry aligns on common terminology, allowing Wi-Fi users to identify devices that support 6 GHz operation as the spectrum becomes available.”
6 GHz addresses Wi-Fi spectrum shortage by providing contiguous spectrum blocks to accommodate 14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels which are needed for high-bandwidth applications that require faster data throughput such as high-definition video streaming and virtual reality. Wi-Fi 6E devices will leverage wider channels and additional capacity to deliver greater network performance and support more Wi-Fi users at once, even in very dense and congested environments.