October 11, 2021

By Mike Fox, VP of Wi-Fi at Connectivity Wireless

Wi-Fi 6E, What, When, Why, Why Not…

Why is it that in life just as soon as you get used to something the next best thing comes around? We get 4K TV only to have it replaced by 8K TV a year later. We get DVDs only to lose them to Blu-Ray a year later. We got Myspace only to lose it to Facebook a year later. I’m dating myself, but you get the point. It always feels like we have to be on guard for the next best thing, and if we miss it our world will come crashing down around us. I exaggerate, but really, can’t we slow the world down so we can enjoy ourselves for a change? I mean, Wi-Fi 6 has only been a thing for a little while, and already I have to deal with Wi-Fi 6E. One’s head could spin with the pace things are changing in the wireless world. Do I need 5G? Do I need 10G? Do I need Wi-Fi 6? If I need Wi-Fi 6, do I need Wi-Fi 6E? PLEASE STOP THE BUS, I WANT OFF. Don’t panic. In about 500 words, you’ll be armed with all you need to know about Wi-Fi 6E and will be able to make sound decisions about your next wireless technology.

So, why Wi-Fi 6E? Isn’t Wi-Fi 6 enough? The easy answer is NO.

Why not? Let your mind drift back to the 1980s for a moment. The experts (geniuses) thought creating 4.2 billion digital addresses (IP addresses) would be enough to cover every electronic device on the planet that could potentially connect to the internet. Well, guess what? As of 2021, NOW there are 46 BILLION connected devices.

Lucky for all of you gamers, Instagramers, Facebookers, and Netflixers, ’round about 15 years ago, another batch of experts came up with a way to create another 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 digital addresses. Whew…that was close. Wait, what do you mean we’re out of spectrum for all these connected devices? Enter Wi-Fi 6E.

Most humans, or at least connected humans, are aware of 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz of wireless connectivity. This spectrum covers everything from cellphones to Alexa to your RUmba. Well, guess what? Running out of IP addresses is no longer the issue. Running out of spectrum is. Enter yet another batch of experts, and you have 6Ghz of wireless connectivity. The global cooperation of the Wi-Fi Alliance and other governing bodies has fast-tracked 6Ghz spectrum access to mitigate the dwindling availability of 2.4 & 5GHz spectrum. So don’t panic, your Wi-Fi access is safe, and AS A BONUS will be more available than ever, faster than ever, and with way less latency. You’re welcome. 😊

Now that you know all of that, what next?

It becomes a cost-to-benefit conversation at this point. Will you eventually want to consider Wi-Fi 6E? (Yes) Do you need it now? (Maybe) Let’s discuss…

It’s fairly well known at this point that Wi-Fi 6 provides exponential performance and latency improvements over prior Wi-Fi technologies. It’s a safe bet that in 2021 and the next two-three years, Wi-Fi 6 will be the predominant Wi-Fi platform for almost every environment. With 2.4 & 5Ghz spectrum available, there won’t be (and doesn’t need to be) a mad rush to convert to Wi-Fi 6E. Keep in mind that there are vast geographic areas that don’t have any kind of Wi-Fi coverage, so the idea of needing Wi-Fi 6E right now should not be top of mind.

A good way to look at it is from the perspective of the end devices and how they’ll benefit from the 6Ghz spectrum. Major improvements to device battery life, network performance, and overall network availability will drive decisions to overhaul Wi-Fi networks to 6Ghz. On a closing note, I’ll say no one is disputing that Wi-Fi 6E will be the most significant upgrade since Wi-Fi was created, but the common question is, should you wait on that if you need a network upgrade today? The answer, in my opinion, is no. We are still a little bit away from Wi-Fi 6e being a reality for devices and networking hardware.

Mike’s Bio

Mike is an industry veteran with 29 years of experience in the infrastructure sector with extended leadership roles at industry leaders such as Ruckus Wireless, Cambium Networks, Zyxel Communications, and Connectivity Wireless (present). With decades of demonstrable consistency and proven success in all aspects of business development, revenue generation, and customer acquisition, he has fine-tuned an ability to take issues meaningful to his customers and work with them to mold solutions enabling their businesses to thrive. Through close quarters engagement and thought leadership hones over a lifetime of working with customers and partners, he’s come to specialize in creating true partnerships to accelerate the development of new avenues of business, ensure maximum customer satisfaction, and help customers reach their business goals through technology and partnership.