Wi-Fi 6E: It’s not a niche technology; it’s foundational (Reader Forum)

There’s been talk in some corners that Wi-Fi 6E is a “niche” generation of Wi-Fi. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wi-Fi 6E is the most significant development in the history of Wi-Fi and offers incredible value to enterprises.

That said, I understand why there could be skepticism. Update fatigue is a real thing, and it doesn’t help that the wireless industry is drowning us with a bunch of numbers and letters that are hard for most people to make sense of Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7, 5G, 6G, etc.!

But Wi-Fi 6E is not “just another update.”

The transformational power of Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi has been around for 22 years, and with each new generation, we have witnessed tremendous gains in wireless performance, connectivity, and user experience. Compared to other wireless technologies, the Wi-Fi innovation timeline has always been exceptionally fast.

Even with that said, the introduction of Wi-Fi 6E in 2020 was a watershed moment. Wi-Fi 6E is the foundational generation of Wi-Fi that brings the technology to the 6 GHz frequency band for the first time. It’s not just another ho-hum technology upgrade; it’s a spectrum upgrade.

Think of it like a highway. With some of the earliest generations of Wi-Fi, it was as if we were on a one-lane road where a few slow vehicles could destroy your network’s aggregate throughput. The emergence of Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 turned that one-lane road into a three-lane interstate highway. With Wi-Fi 6, you’re in the left lane, taking advantage of faster cars and priority lanes that offer a higher level of traffic efficiency. It’s better than previous iterations, but still, your journey is easily disrupted by a few slow cars.

Enter Wi-Fi 6E. It’s a brand-new highway with multiple priority lanes reserved exclusively for newer model cars (Wi-Fi 6E and beyond).

What it means for enterprises

You don’t just need to take my word for it. Countries across the globe continue to adopt the new 6 GHz superhighway. Andnew data was just released showing that more than 1,000 Wi-Fi 6E devices are commercially available as of the end of Q3 2022. Just this past October, Apple – one of the few major Wi-Fi 6E hold-outs – announced their first Wi-Fi 6E mobile device with the iPad Pro. It’s safe to say that we will see many more Apple devices with 6 GHz Wi-Fi radios in the very near future.

Wi-Fi 6E is clearly heating up on the client side; but what does that mean for businesses?

My advice: if your company is due for a Wi-Fi infrastructure upgrade, you should be thinking seriously about 6 GHz Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi 6E brings us up to 1,200 MHz of new spectrum in the 6 GHz band. It offers more bandwidth, greater performance, and elimination of slower technology devices, all combining to offer faster and more compelling user experiences. It’s going to be especially helpful with large, crowded public venues, and will be able to better support immersive experiences like AR/VR and8K video or low-latency services like telemedicine.

But what about Wi-Fi 7?

The Wi-Fi 7 buzz has already commenced, and vendors like Broadcom have even introduced their Wi-Fi 7 ecosystem. Several Wi-Fi 7 features, like multi-link operation (MLO), hold promise for the enterprise. However, the technology is still under development. We could see first-generation enterprise equipment in early 2024. But you know what? There is no Wi-Fi 7 without the 6 GHz spectrum that Wi-Fi 6E currently offers. Sometimes we get too caught up with the new “bells and whistles” of various generations of Wi-Fi. It’s not always about features and updates, and the most significant thing happening in Wi-Fi right now is that it’s all about the 6 GHz spectrum.

Again, think of Wi-Fi 6E as the foundational generation of Wi-Fi that offers 6 GHz connectivity. That means that Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi 8, and other future generations of Wi-Fi will be built upon the 6 GHz spectrum foundation that has debuted with Wi-Fi 6E.

Don’t understate or overlook Wi-Fi 6E

According to theWi-Fi Alliance, more than 350 million Wi-Fi 6E products were expected to enter the market in 2022. Consumers are adopting this technology in droves, which is driving new demand in the enterprise. Its impact and importance in the history of Wi-Fi can’t be understated, and it would be a mistake to pass it by.

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