July 28, 2021
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 a 4K TV only to have it replaced by an 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. 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. One’s head could spin with the pace at which things are changing in the wireless world. Do I need 5G? Do I need 10G? Do I need Wi-Fi 6, or do I need Wi-Fi 6E? 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, Instagrammers, Facebookers, and Netflixers, about 15 years ago, another batch of experts came up with another way to create another 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 digital addresses. Does that mean we’re out of spectrum for all of these connected devices? Enter, Wi-Fi 6E.
Most humans, or at least connected humans, are aware of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 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 6 GHz of wireless connectivity. The global cooperation of the Wi-Fi Alliance and other governing bodies has fast-tracked 6Ghz of spectrum access to mitigate the dwindling availability of 2.4 & 5GHz of spectrum. So don’t panic; your Wi-Fi access is safe, and AS A BONUS, it will be more available than ever, faster than ever, and with way less latency.
Now That You Know All of That, What’s 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 to three years, Wi-Fi 6 will be the predominant Wi-Fi platform for almost every environment. With enough 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 6GHz of 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, 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 is no. We are still a little bit away from Wi-Fi 6E being a reality for devices and networking hardware.