HomeTechnologyNewsWhat is it and how is it different from Wi-Fi 6?

What is it and how is it different from Wi-Fi 6?

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Hannah Stryker / Instructional Geek

Wi-Fi 6E adds the 6 GHz band to the existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands available in Wi-Fi 6. The additional 6 GHz band will help reduce congestion in areas with many Wi-Fi networks, improving network performance and reliability.

Wi-Fi 6 hardware is now common, and there’s a good chance you have a Wi-Fi 6 network and Wi-Fi 6-enabled devices. But people are already talking about something new: Wi-Fi 6E, which promises to reduce even more plus Wi-Fi congestion.

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6 and previous generations of Wi-Fi use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio bands. A “Wi-Fi 6E” device is also capable of operating in the 6 GHz band.

6 GHz spectrum works similar to WiFi 6 on 5 GHz, but offers additional channels that do not overlap. As the Wi-Fi Alliance puts it, Wi-Fi 6E allows for “14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels.” These channels will not overlap each other, which will help reduce congestion, particularly in areas where many networks operate.

All devices that communicate on the 6 GHz spectrum would also be Wi-Fi 6 devices. There would be no older devices using standards like Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac). All devices on 6GHz channels will speak the same language and be able to use the new Wi-Fi 6 decongestion features.

In other words, Wi-Fi 6E is Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) over 6 GHz.

RELATED: What is Wi-Fi 6? (802.11ax)

How fast is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E is based on the same standard as Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and offers the same maximum speed: around 9.6 gigabits per second (Gbps).

So if it has the same top speed, why should anyone care? As we mentioned before, the main advantage of Wi-Fi 6E is the additional channels that the 6 GHz band carries.

If you’ve ever been in an area with a ton of different Wi-Fi networks and devices running simultaneously, you’re probably familiar with the issues that occur. In those circumstances, Wi-Fi networks become less reliable, their speeds tend to be worse, and the whole experience can be downright horrible.

That’s where Wi-Fi 6E really shines. The new 6 GHz Wi-Fi band significantly increases the number of channels available for wireless devices to use. That means less jostling by the same parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. The practical benefits for the end user are more reliable connections, better data speeds, and less hassle.

Is Wi-Fi 6E going to revolutionize wireless technology as we know it? No, but if you live in a place that suffers from a ton of wireless Internet traffic, like a dense apartment building, you’ll be glad to have extra space on the 6GHz band available.

How can you get Wi-Fi 6E?

Getting Wi-Fi 6E requires two things. First, you need a wireless router that supports Wi-Fi 6E. Wi-Fi 6E routers have been available since 2021 and you can buy routers and mesh networking systems from brands like Asus with Wi-Fi 6E. Other manufacturers like Netgear, TP-Link, and LinkSys have also released Wi-Fi 6E routers.

When choosing a router, be sure to keep a few things in mind.

  • What materials is your house made of?
  • What area should your router cover?
  • How many Ethernet ports do you need?
  • What is the maximum speed of your Internet plan?

The composition of your home and its size will make a big difference in the router you need. Wi-Fi signals, especially the 6GHz Wi-Fi band, don’t penetrate brick, concrete, rock, or most other similar materials very well, while drywall and wood aren’t a great deal. problem. Also, the 6 GHz band drops off more aggressively with distance than either the 2.4 GHz band or the 5 GHz band.

If you have a large home or have walls made of a material that will block Wi-Fi signals, you should consider a mesh Wi-Fi system instead. They are designed to provide more reliable and consistent coverage in situations where a single router is not enough.

Then you need a device to connect to the Wi-Fi 6E network, and that’s where you’re most likely to run into problems.

Wi-Fi over 6 GHz requires new devices

Wi-Fi 6E devices will be backward compatible with Wi-Fi 6 and older Wi-Fi standards. But, to take advantage of those new 6GHz channels in Wi-Fi 6E, you’ll need to use devices that support it. In other words, you’ll only use Wi-Fi 6E once you pair a Wi-Fi 6E-enabled client device (such as a laptop or smartphone) and a Wi-Fi 6E-enabled access point.

For example, even if you have a bunch of Wi-Fi 6 devices and a Wi-Fi 6E-enabled router, none of your devices will communicate over Wi-FI 6E. They will all use Wi-Fi 6 on typical 5GHz or 2.4GHz channels.

RELATED: 5GHz Wi-Fi is not always better than 2.4GHz Wi-Fi

What devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6E?

In early 2023, Wi-Fi 6E hardware became quite common, though it’s definitely not universal. Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Google Pixel 7 support Wi-Fi 6E, though the only Apple devices that support Wi-Fi 6E so far are the latest editions of the Macbook Pro, iPad Pro, and Mac mini. The iPhone 14 does not support Wi-Fi 6E.

Intel is promoting Wi-Fi 6E, which it calls “GIG+.” As Intel continues to add this feature to its manufacturer platforms, more and more Wi-Fi 6E-capable Intel-powered laptops have appeared. AMD, MediaTek, and Qualcomm have released Wi-Fi 6E-compatible wireless controllers that also appear on a number of phones, tablets, and laptops.

Wi-Fi 6E now also appears on mid-range and high-end motherboards, if you want to build a desktop PC with the latest wireless connectivity options.

Note: Microsoft has decided not to support Wi-Fi 6E in Windows 10. If you’re a PC user, you’ll need Windows 11 to take full advantage of any Wi-Fi 6E hardware.

Going forward, most high-end and mid-range devices with Wi-Fi connectivity released until 2023 are likely to support Wi-Fi 6E.

Need Wi-Fi 6E?

As with most things, that depends on your circumstances. If you live somewhere with a lot of Wi-Fi congestion, then yes, you should seriously consider buying a Wi-Fi 6E router. Wi-Fi 6E devices aren’t universal yet, but you’ll really appreciate the extra breathing room that the 6GHz band provides in devices that can use it.

And more of those devices are coming soon: you should expect all flagship devices released in 2023 to support Wi-Fi 6E, as well as most mid-range phones, most laptops, and most motherboards. with Wi-Fi connectivity. There’s plenty of hardware out there that supports Wi-Fi 6E if you’re willing to buy it.

If you don’t have Wi-Fi congestion issues, it becomes more difficult to recommend an immediate upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E. It’s not much faster than Wi-Fi 6, and unless you’ve bought new devices to use the 6Ghz band, you’re not getting anything to justify the higher price that Wi-Fi 6E routers still command. If you’re not eager to adopt the latest and greatest, or don’t have an immediate need, stick with your current router as long as it does what you want it to do.

That being said, you should avoid buy new Wi-Fi 5 routers right now. Wi-Fi 6 devices such as routers, laptops, smartphones are ubiquitous. Wi-Fi 6 isn’t an extreme upgrade over Wi-Fi 5 in terms of speed, but it will lead to faster Wi-Fi along with less wireless congestion and maybe even better battery life for your devices. We definitely recommend you at least buy a Wi-Fi 6 router if you haven’t already. You will be able to take full advantage of all your Wi-Fi 6 devices.

RELATED: Why your next router should be Wi-Fi 6E

Is Wi-Fi 6E safe?

Yes. Wi-Fi 6E uses the latest Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) security, which has a number of improvements over previous versions of WPA.

WPA3 makes weak passwords more resistant to brute force attacks, ensures that all your traffic is completely anonymous when connected to public Wi-Fi networks, and offers more advanced encryption for business uses.

It’s important to note that Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E have the exact same security standards. Wi-Fi 6E, while newer, doesn’t bring any security improvements to the table.

Regulatory approval required for Wi-Fi 6E

The FCC headquarters in Washington, DC.
Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock.com

If 6 GHz is so useful, why didn’t existing Wi-Fi standards already use it? Well, they couldn’t. Regulatory agencies did not allow Wi-Fi to use the 6 GHz band, instead reserving it for other purposes.

In October 2018, the US Federal Communications Commission proposed making the 6GHz spectrum available for Wi-Fi and other “unlicensed” uses. That didn’t happen right away, and Wi-Fi 6E began to take shape before its regulatory approval. On April 23, 2020, the FCC voted to open up the 6GHz band to Wi-Fi 6E and other uses later in 2020, making Wi-Fi 6E devices cleared for launch in the US.

Many other countries have also allowed the use of the 6GHz band, paving the way for Wi-Fi 6E devices to enter the market.

Wi-Fi 6E is not WiGig

Note that the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E is different from the 60 GHz band, which WiGig will take advantage of. Wi-Fi 6E’s 6GHz will perform similarly to Wi-Fi’s 5GHz, while WiGig is ideal for faster data transfer speeds over shorter distances.

RELATED: What is WiGig and how is it different from Wi-Fi 6?

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