Wi-Fi 6E unleashes the potential of Wi-Fi 6, however, it’s key to understand if now is the right time for your organisation.
In my previous blog, which focused on “The Wi-Fi (R)evolution”, I talked about the state of Wi-Fi technology and the importance of Wi-Fi 6 and 6E.
As the latest standard, Wi-Fi 6E promises unparallel performance and capacity levels. However, the question is: should customers move straight to Wi-Fi 6E and adopt it now for their new deployments?
Following are a few things to consider as you think about when is the right time to make the move.
Consideration #1: Countries enabling Wi-Fi 6E
With connectivity demands growing steadily, many countries are making portions of the 6 GHz band available for Wi-Fi. However, some countries and regions are more restrictive than others, and organisations need to be aware of the status of the regulations in their region before starting a Wi-Fi 6E project.
• Countries, including the U.S., Canada and Brazil have already opened the entire spectrum for Wi-Fi 6E
• In the European Union and the U.K., only 500 MHz are available for Wi-Fi, while the other half of the spectrum is reserved for 5G
• Other countries, such as Argentina, Mexico and New Zealand are still considering their options, while many others haven’t yet made an announcement regarding Wi-Fi 6E adoption
The push towards this new technology is only growing and it is anticipated that as Wi-Fi 6E continues to evolve, more countries will adopt it sooner rather than later.
My recommendation: Check the up-to-date list of countries enabling Wi-Fi 6E, published by the Wi-Fi Alliance®.
Consideration #2: Certified Wi-Fi 6E devices
Only Wi-Fi 6E certified products will be able to use the 6 GHz band. Therefore, organisations wanting to deploy a Wi-Fi 6E solution will need to consider the availability of certified access points and client devices to support their use cases.
Wi-Fi 6 technology is being adopted at an unparalleled rate, reaching 50% market penetration in just three years. The Wi-Fi Alliance forecasts that more than two billion Wi-Fi 6 and 6E devices will be shipped in 2022. However, only 15% of these will be Wi-Fi 6E capable devices.
There is a list of Wi-Fi 6E certified products already available in the market, including access points and other equipment from network vendors, as well as consumer devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and home entertainment devices such as smart TVs. While the list is still limited, it is expected to continue to grow rapidly.
My recommendation: Check the certified Wi-Fi 6E products published by the Wi-Fi Alliance®.
Consideration #3: Outdoor coverage
In many markets, the 6 GHz band is already used by incumbent licensed services such as public safety, cellular backhaul, microwave links, satellite services and TV broadcast services. Many of these services are mission-critical which means Wi-Fi 6E interference must be strictly avoided.
This leads us to the third consideration, outdoor coverage. Wi-Fi 6E distinguishes two types of devices with the objective of avoiding interference with the incumbent services:
1. Low power devices designed with limited transmission power. These include:
• Low Power Indoor (LPI) access points, for indoor usage only. These devices cover typical indoor Wi-Fi installations, either enterprise-grade or residential.
• Very Low Power (VLP) devices, which are portable and intended for personal wearables, either indoor or outdoor. This is a new category of personal devices, to be used anywhere, even in vehicles, for example virtual reality glasses, which are connected to a smartphone through Wi-Fi, to transmit larger amounts of data than Bluetooth®.
2. Standard power access points are intended for outdoor deployments where more transmission power is needed to support greater distances. To ensure that the 6 GHz incumbents do not experience harmful interference from these Wi-Fi systems, the Wi-Fi Alliance in coordination with the FCC in the US, has designed the Automated Frequency Coordination system (AFC), which manages spectrum usage requests in outdoor environments.
Qualcomm has recently announced their AFC solution for enhanced Wi-Fi performance in 6 GHz. In other countries, systems and specifications are in various phases of development. In general, Wi-Fi 6E for outdoor environments is not yet mature.
My recommendation: Plan outdoor environments with Wi-Fi 6 until the specifications for Wi-Fi 6E outdoor are ready.
Into the future
While Wi-Fi 6E is ramping up, Wi-Fi 6 will still be the predominant technology for at least the next two years.
If you are considering Wi-Fi 6E for your next WLAN deployment, bookmark this blog and revisit the three essential considerations outlined here.