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Wi-Fi 6E: When it’s coming and what it’s good for

This spring the FCC opened up a new swath of unlicensed wireless spectrum in the 6GHz band that’s intended for use with Wi-Fi and can provide lower latency and faster data rates. The new spectrum also has a shorter range and supports more channels than bands that were already dedicated to Wi-Fi, making it suitable for deployment in high-density areas like stadiums.

To further understand what Wi-Fi 6E is and how it differs from Wi-Fi 6, I recently talked with Perry Correll, director of product management for networking solutions vendor Extreme Networks.

Kerravala: Wi-Fi 6 seems to be getting a lot of hype but not Wi-Fi 6E. Why?

Correll: There’s so much confusion around all the 666 numbers, it’ll scare you to death. You’ve got Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E – and Wi-Fi 6 still has additional enhancements coming after that, with multi-user multiple input, multiple output (multi-user MIMO) functionalities. Then there’s the 6GHz spectrum, but that’s not where Wi-Fi 6 gets its name from: It’s the sixth generation of Wi-Fi. On top of all that, we are just getting a handle 5G and there already talking about 6G – seriously, look it up – it’s going to get even more confusing.

Kerravala: Why do we need Wi-Fi 6E versus regular Wi-Fi 6?

Correll: The last time we got a boost in UNII-2 and UNII-2 Extended was 15 years ago and smartphones hadn’t even taken off yet. Now being able to get 1.2GHz is enormous. With Wi-Fi 6E, we’re not doubling the amount of Wi-Fi space, we’re actually quadrupling the amount of usable space. That’s three, four, or five times more spectrum, depending on where you are in the world. Plus you don’t have to worry about DFS [dynamic frequency selection], especially indoors.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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