Wi-Fi Alliance on Jan. 3 announced it 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 newly designated 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 quickly following 6 GHz regulatory approvals, utilizing this additional spectrum capacity to deliver continuous Wi-Fi innovation and valuable contributions to consumers, businesses and economies.
Per a press statement from the Alliance: "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 foundational technology for the Internet of Things, a necessary complement to delivering 5G, an important tool bringing communication networks to underserved areas, and a strong contributor to global economies. 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."
“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,” asserts Phil Solis, research director at IDC. “If spectrum is made available early this year, we expect momentum of products that support operation in 6 GHz to ramp very quickly. The capacity of 6 GHz is enormous and will be efficiently used by Wi-Fi 6 and newer versions of Wi-Fi. The U.S. is taking a big lead on the 6 GHz market, with Europe and APAC regions also exploring access to this band.”
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 much anticipated augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) use cases for consumer, enterprise, and industrial environments.
Wi-Fi Alliance notes that 6 GHz technology 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. Wi-Fi Alliance is working on the development of interoperability testing for Wi-Fi 6E that will deliver benefits to Wi-Fi users once the spectrum is available.
“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,” comments 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.”
Wi-Fi Alliance member testimonial support for 6 GHz technology has been voluminous. Industry comments are as follows:
“The addition of 6 GHz Wi-Fi will be a game-changer for consumers and operators alike. More spectrum and larger channel bandwidth will provide the capacity to support even more devices, at even faster speeds. To ensure the highest quality experience, on any given device, at any given time, operators must have the tools in place to optimize performance of all devices in the home. AirTies’ Smart Wi-Fi software and cloud-based management software will help operators proactively manage devices to achieve the best possible performance, whether it’s for new Wi-Fi 6 devices at 6 GHz, or legacy devices at 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.” – Metin Taskin, CTO of AirTies
“Wi-Fi has become the most important wireless technology for American consumers and businesses, and is projected to contribute almost $1 trillion in economic value to the United States by 2023. As the application and overall demand for Wi-Fi continue to surge, access to the 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum will enable Wi-Fi to continue delivering the vast innovations and socioeconomic benefits it is bringing to the market today while helping to ensure Wi-Fi can meet the new promises of the 5G era and beyond.” – Chuck Lukaszewski, vice president of Wireless Standards and Strategy for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
“Opening up blocks of 6 GHz bandwidth for Wi-Fi definitely supports growth of Wi-Fi in the next decade. Many more larger-bandwidth channels can be simultaneously deployed to enable data heavy communication and back and front haul of multi-node wireless networks, and increase immunity to interference over all as a Wi-Fi system. As a side benefit, Wi-Fi signal location accuracy can significantly improve and open up paths for new applications. ASSIA will be actively supporting standardization and commercialization of new capabilities of 6 GHz in a vendor-neutral fashion across the Wi-Fi ecosystem.” – Tuncay Cil, Chief Strategy Officer, ASSIA
“2020 marks a new decade for innovation and we’re seeing that first hand with Wi-Fi 6E. Access to more megahertz, like the 6 GHz band, expands the richness and power of the wireless ecosystem, enabling providers like Boingo to complement 5G deployments and meet multiple connected use cases in dense environments.” – Dr. Derek Peterson, Chief Technology Officer, Boingo
"The 6 GHz band will perhaps be the most disruptive boon for Wi-Fi users in the last twenty years. 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. The Wi-Fi 6E brand for 6 GHz Wi-Fi will let consumers know that their Wi-Fi experience is about to get even better. Broadcom is excited about the wireless future with Wi-Fi 6E, and applauds the industry for coming up with a simple, elegant brand that amplifies the immediate possibilities with 6 GHz for Wi-Fi lovers everywhere.” – Vijay Nagarajan, Vice President, Wireless Communications and Connectivity Division, Broadcom Inc.
“CableLabs applauds the FCC for advancing spectrum access in the 5.9 GHz and 6 GHz frequency bands. The cable industry is building the future of broadband with the 10G platform. For consumers to fully benefit from 10G innovation, wireless links need to be robust, and this spectrum is critical to that vision.” – Rob Alderfer, vice president of technology policy at CableLabs
“We welcome the adoption of the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi. This will ensure a better user experience for all Wi-Fi users, providing much needed additional spectrum. CEVA has contributed to the incredible growth of the Wi-Fi market, including Wi-Fi 4, 5, 6 and now Wi-Fi 6E. We are proud to have licensed our RivieraWaves Wi-Fi IP and platforms to numerous major semiconductor companies addressing a broad range of market segments including wearables, medical, IoT, smart home, access points and gateways.” – Ange Aznar, VP & GM of Wireless IoT BU at CEVA
“Wi-Fi 6E will play a crucial role in advancing wireless capabilities, with higher performance, lower latency and better quality at the 6 GHz bandwidth. The 6 GHz spectrum is valuable not just to Wi-Fi, so we hope that all communities can cooperate on ways to share these frequencies and create more seamless experiences. The 6 GHz band will also allow for greater location accuracy, opening up new and exciting opportunities to develop business-optimizing applications and use cases.” – Anand Oswal, SVP, Engineering, Cisco Intent-based Networking Group
"Wi-Fi has changed the world, and we are excited to work with Wi-Fi Alliance to ensure Wi-Fi will continue changing the world. Wi-Fi 6's growth into the 6 GHz spectrum is a game changer for two reasons – the availability of the additional channels and the ability to finally use 160Mhz for high bandwidth applications like AR and VR; this provides enormous opportunities to build new applications and experiences for both consumers and businesses. By standardizing on Wi-Fi 6E, Cisco Meraki and others in the industry can begin delivering next-generation wireless experiences to customers." – Jayanthi Srinivasan, Director of Product Management, Cisco Meraki
“Wi-Fi 6E allows the immediate use of promised efficiencies from Wi-Fi 6, providing a spectrum platform for the next phase of lower latency and deterministic Wi-Fi services. We see these expanded capabilities seeding a new generation of high-speed laptops and tablets, applications around Wi-Fi 6E wireless mesh and high-quality video distribution in 8K and VR, and new, time-sensitive services.” – Charles Cheevers, CTO, Home Networks, CommScope
“With every increase in available bandwidth, new devices and applications come along that leverage that space to provide experiences we never before imagined, yet quickly become part of the fabric of our everyday lives. Brand new Wi-Fi spectrum in the 6 GHz range will more than double available Wi-Fi frequencies and have a profound effect on Wi-Fi enabled communications. This additional bandwidth not only enables higher Wi-Fi 6 performance with less congestion, but also delivers sufficient spectrum to effectively deploy 80 MHz or 160 MHz-wide channels, severely restricted at 5 GHz. 6 GHz finally and legitimately provides the higher data rates required to drive virtual and augmented reality forward, giving users and organizations the ability to develop a whole new world of use cases.” – Perry Correll, Director of Product Management, Extreme Networks
“Access to the 6 GHz spectrum band is vital to ensuring that millions of consumers and businesses have continued access to the latest wireless innovations and capabilities. It will bring increased capacity and better Wi-Fi performance for the highest quality experiences in homes and enterprises. The FCC’s pending decision to open up the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use in the United States is a crucial step in Wi-Fi technology’s evolution to further support widespread wireless device use.” – Carlos Cordeiro, Senior Principal Engineer for Intel Corporation and Technical Advisor to the Wi-Fi Alliance Board of Directors
"Although Europe will open less spectrum to WLAN than the US, 6 GHz will still bring a true boost to Wi-Fi 6. We expect data rates to double and latencies to be halved - making Wi-Fi an unbeatable alternative to 5G in campus networks." – Jan Buis, Vice President Business Development, LANCOM Systems
“Long standing relationships between Linksys and industry governances such as Wi-Fi Alliance combined with our strong legacy in networking ensure that our products continue to deliver the highest performance. We are excited to see that Wi-Fi Alliance and regulatory agencies are moving in a direction with Wi-Fi 6E that will serve the future needs of business and users, and we will keep expanding the scope of what we can achieve with wireless networking. Linksys is committed to delivering the highest ‘next-generation’ performance technology into our products.” – Kannan Vardarajan, director of product management, Linksys
“As a leading manufacturer of performance Wi-Fi products, NETGEAR is looking to the evolution of future technologies to improve upon the Wi-Fi experience of our customers and wireless network capabilities of the Smart Homes of tomorrow. The potential of 6 GHz is something that NETGEAR is very excited about for the next wave of enhanced Wi-Fi.” – Abhay Bhokar, Director of Product Management for Connected Home Products at NETGEAR
“Wi-Fi 6E opens up to 1.2 GHz of additional spectrum to the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, ensuring continued innovation and support for the ultra-high performance connectivity needed of today’s home, enterprise, and automotive markets. Marvell, now NXP, was among the first companies to be Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6, and NXP continues to play a leading role in helping Wi-Fi Alliance innovate and drive the adoption of powerful new technologies like Wi-Fi 6E.” – Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager of wireless connectivity at NXP Semiconductors
“By extending Wi-Fi 6 into the 6GHz band, we can expect high performance connectivity with greater capacity, increased speed and lower latency for continuous innovation in home networking and enterprise applications. We are excited to welcome the addition of Wi-Fi 6E as consumers will subsequently benefit from these advancements in their connected devices and services.” – Irvind Ghai, vice president of Marketing, Quantenna Connectivity Solutions at ON Semiconductor
“Qualcomm Technologies believes in the continued evolution of technologies for unlicensed spectrum to deliver powerful, next-generation connected experiences at scale and across diverse product categories worldwide. The ground-breaking potential of extending the already transformative characteristics of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6 GHz band is hard to overstate, and we applaud Wi-Fi Alliance’s leadership in unleashing a new era of high speed, low latency Wi-Fi 6 experiences for the 6 GHz band.” – Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, Connectivity & Networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Learn more at www.wi-fi.org.