Last month, we wrote an explainer on the latest Wi-Fi standard called Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 AX). Just like Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 operates on two frequencies – 2.4GHz and 5GHz. However, some Wi-Fi 6 devices will be able to operate on a third spectrum (frequency) and will go by a different name.
Wi-Fi 6 + 6GHz = Wi-Fi 6E
In January of this year, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that Wi-Fi 6 devices that can operate on the third spectrum which is 6GHz will be called Wi-Fi 6E devices to distinguish them from those that can only operate on 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
What are the advantages of the 6GHz spectrum?
With Wi-Fi 6 operating on the same frequency as older Wi-Fi standards such as Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5, there is bound to be interference. However, with support for 6GHz which has wider channel sizes, there will be less interference and faster speeds.
The press release by the Wi-Fi Alliance earlier this year said the 6GHz spectrum solves the Wi-Fi spectrum shortage problem by providing contiguous spectrum blocks for 14 additional 80MHz channels and 7 additional 160MHz channels. These additional channels are required by high-bandwidth applications that need faster data throughput such as HD-video streaming, AR, and VR.
Devices with support for Wi-Fi 6E will also be able to support more users at the same time even in very dense and congested areas thanks to the wider channels that 6GHz brings.
When will you be able to buy Wi-Fi 6E devices?
Wi-Fi 6E chipsets need to be made first. Broadcom already has one and says that the chipset will begin shipping to clients by late fall, 2020 which is in time for the holidays. Other manufacturers will most likely follow the same pattern.
Do note that you not only have to purchase a Wi-Fi 6E router, but your devices also have to support Wi-Fi 6E. So while routers may be available soon, devices such as phones and computers may take a bit more time.