January 6, 2020 | 13:00
The Wi-Fi Alliance has officially declared that Wi-Fi 6 devices capable of using the 6GHz band will be placed in a new class of devices known as Wi-Fi 6E.
That may sound obvious but it's not when you start looking at the finer details of the newer protocol. As an example, Wi-Fi 6 might sound like it supports the 6GHz spectrum, given its name, but regular 'basic' Wi-Fi 6 doesn't include 6GHz support. It's as confusing as it sounds, so the idea of a standardised branding of Wi-Fi 6E to highlight devices that are capable of actually using 6GHz seems a much smarter move.
As a quick reminder, there's currently a choice of 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequencies when it comes to transmitting data wirelessly. Wi-Fi 6E will extend the standard to include adjacent 6GHz frequencies, along with 14 extra 80MHz channels and 7 additional 160MHz channels to serve as extra conduits for data. It should mean faster data transfers and lower latency along the way. Basically, while networks are becoming increasingly congested with more devices requiring Wi-Fi connectivity (Wi-Fi kettle anyone?), and greater needs when it comes to streaming data, it's an essential upgrade, albeit one that's a little slow to gain momentum.
“6GHz 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,” Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa said. “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.”
So, it's been implemented so that we actually all keep on top of what is meant by 6GHz based Wi-Fi.
For now, devices with Wi-Fi 6E branding will have to wait until regulatory approvals around the world take place, but it's an important step in the change over, and should help solve a few misunderstandings. In September last year, we saw the launch of Wi-Fi Certified 6 and this is the natural next move forward. Expect to see more launches like Asus' Wi-Fi 6 card to come in 2020, and a fair amount of choice for those that want to jump on board early.
February 24 2020 | 12:00