Wi-Fi 6E: What is it, and how is it different from Wi-Fi 6?

Cal Jeffrey

TS Evangelist
Staff member

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced new branding for some not yet released Wi-Fi 6 equipment this month. These devices will be labeled Wi-Fi 6E. But what is Wi-Fi 6E, and what makes it different from the more simple term Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of wireless router protocol. Also known as 802.11ax or AX Wi-Fi, the new standard offers improvements over the current 802.11ac. It primarily looks to overcome congestion issues caused by multiple devices in the home, including IoT gadgets, riding on the same signal.

In short, Wi-Fi 6E is the name of a new extension to the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard to signify it's capable of supporting all-new 6 GHz frequencies. This will add more spectrum, higher throughputs, and lower latency.

In case you missed our full blown explainer about Wi-Fi 6, the new routers can handle four times as many devices at speeds up to 40-percent faster (9.6Gbps) than 802.11ac (now called Wi-Fi 5).

Wi-Fi 6 will be capable of operating on 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and eventually bands in 1GHz and 6GHz bands. Since the 6GHz spectrum offers significant advantages, the Wi-Fi Alliance feels that devices capable of using the broader band should have a different designation to make them easier to identify.

In short, Wi-Fi 6E is the name of a new extension to the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard to signify it's capable of supporting all-new 6 GHz frequencies. This will add more spectrum, higher throughputs, and lower latency.

"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," the Wi-Fi Alliance announced. "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."

Standard Wi-Fi is facing a spectrum shortage because if the increasing number of devices being used around the world and the addition of 6GHz will help mitigate this problem. However, regulators have yet to fully approve the band's use. Once allowed, 6GHz will facilitate continued Wi-Fi growth, as well as other advantages such as broader channel sizes and less interference from legacy Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) and Wi-Fi 5 devices.

Analysts predict approval will trigger the quick adoption of the band by equipment manufacturers.

"If the regulatory landscape permits, we expect companies to move forward aggressively with products that operate in 6 GHz because they understand the tremendous value brought to their customers by this portion of unlicensed spectrum," IDC's Research Director Phil Solis notes. "If [the] spectrum is made available early this year, we expect [the] momentum of products that support operation in 6 GHz to ramp very quickly."

The impact of Wi-Fi 6E will truly shine in highly congested areas. Routers will have wider channels to work with to accommodate more devices at higher throughput rates.

According to some OEMs, adoption of 6Ghz should bring about more innovation in connected products as well. "This swath of spectrum, when coupled with Wi-Fi, will power new consumer experiences on smartphones, AR/VR devices and wearables we haven't even yet invented," said Broadcom VP Vijay Nagarajan.

The FCC has already unanimously agreed to open the 6GHz band for use in next-gen Wi-Fi. However, it still has some regulatory hoops to jump through before OEMs can start implementing it globally.

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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
So when will 7Ghz be open? WiFi 7?

I'm holding out for WiFi 10 - but it will probably come preinstalled with spyware, and force you to update...
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
It's only a rumor at this point, but one of my friends that works with NSA a lot tells me that the new standard is particularly susceptible to monitoring by "Stingray". If you don't know what that is, you might want to do a bit of research before you get it and use it .....
 
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Philip Pyne

TS Member
I'd like to hear more about this 1Ghz spectrum. I imagine it won't have the same bandwidth as the other spectrums, but lower frequency usually means better range. Is there any more on what they are planning for 1Ghz?
 
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CharmsD

TS Enthusiast
TechSpot Elite
That's some light reading right there..anyone smart enough to distill it for the simpletons here?
I just read this stuff until lights flash! Here's what we'll get, one day. Improved quality of service using bi-directional - parallel packet sending. OFDMA (Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) is an extension to OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) that may - eventually - service more clients, reduce latency & jitter.

Now, pronounce orthogonal! :)

 
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jobeard

TS Ambassador
I just read this stuff until lights flash! Here's what we'll get, one day. Improved quality of service using bi-directional - parallel packet sending. OFDMA (Orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) is an extension to OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) that may - eventually - service more clients, reduce latency & jitter.

Now, pronounce orthogonal! :)

1-in-50 will understand this :-grin
 
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hardsv

TS Rookie
So the only difference is 6E will include 1ghz and 6ghz too !?
That should be a piece of cake for vendors as most of them already support the first half of the 6Hz band.

Supper excited of 1Ghz as it is going to increase the range.

Are there any other differences rather than a couple of extra frequencies?