Wi-Fi Alliance Brings Wi-Fi 6 into 6GHz

January 06, 2020 by Paul Shepard

Wi-Fi Alliance® is introducing new terminology to distinguish forthcoming Wi-Fi 6 devices that are capable of 6GHz operation, an important portion of unlicensed spectrum that may soon be made available by regulators around the world. Wi-Fi 6E brings a common industry name for Wi-Fi® users to identify devices that will offer the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 – including higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates – extended into the 6GHz band.

Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to become available quickly following 6GHz regulatory approvals, utilizing this additional spectrum capacity to deliver continuous Wi-Fi innovation and valuable contributions to consumers, businesses and economies.

Wi-Fi is ready to utilize 6GHz spectrum as it becomes available around the world. Wi-Fi Alliance continues to support international advocacy efforts to make this additional spectrum available to Wi-Fi users, while also protecting existing devices in the band.

Wi-Fi has been recognized as a foundational technology for the Internet of Things, a necessary complement to delivering 5G, an important tool bringing communication networks to underserved areas, and a strong contributor to global economies. 6GHz is well suited to facilitate Wi-Fi’s continued growth in these areas due to its adjacency to 5GHz where Wi-Fi already operates, greater availability of wider channel sizes, and accessibility to clear spectrum with less interference from legacy Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 devices.

Once 6GHz is made available by regulators, analysts predict the first Wi-Fi devices to use the band will include Wi-Fi 6E consumer access points and smartphones, followed by enterprise-grade access points. Industrial environments are also expected to see strong adoption from Wi-Fi 6E to deliver applications including machine analytics, remote maintenance, or virtual employee training. Wi-Fi 6E will utilize 6GHz to deliver much anticipated augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) use cases for consumer, enterprise, and industrial environments.

“6GHz will help address the growing need for Wi-Fi spectrum capacity to ensure Wi-Fi users continue to receive the same great user experience with their devices,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance. “Wi-Fi Alliance is introducing Wi-Fi 6E now to ensure the industry aligns on common terminology, allowing Wi-Fi users to identify devices that support 6GHz operation as the spectrum becomes available.”

6GHz addresses Wi-Fi spectrum shortage by providing contiguous spectrum blocks to accommodate 14 additional 80MHz channels and 7 additional 160MHz channels which are needed for high-bandwidth applications that require faster data throughput such as high-definition video streaming and virtual reality.

Wi-Fi 6E devices will leverage wider channels and additional capacity to deliver greater network performance and support more Wi-Fi users at once, even in very dense and congested environments. Wi-Fi Alliance is working on the development of interoperability testing for Wi-Fi 6E that will deliver benefits to Wi-Fi users once the spectrum is available.

Selected WiFi Alliance Member Comments:

“Wi-Fi 6E will play a crucial role in advancing wireless capabilities, with higher performance, lower latency and better quality at the 6GHz bandwidth. The 6GHz spectrum is valuable not just to Wi-Fi, so we hope that all communities can cooperate on ways to share these frequencies and create more seamless experiences. The 6GHz band will also allow for greater location accuracy, opening up new and exciting opportunities to develop business-optimizing applications and use cases.” – Anand Oswal, SVP, Engineering, Cisco Intent-based Networking Group

“Access to the 6GHz spectrum band is vital to ensuring that millions of consumers and businesses have continued access to the latest wireless innovations and capabilities. It will bring increased capacity and better Wi-Fi performance for the highest quality experiences in homes and enterprises. The FCC’s pending decision to open up the 6GHz band for unlicensed use in the United States is a crucial step in Wi-Fi technology’s evolution to further support widespread wireless device use.” – Carlos Cordeiro, Senior Principal Engineer for Intel Corporation and Technical Advisor to the Wi-Fi Alliance Board of Directors

“Wi-Fi 6E opens up to 1.2 GHz of additional spectrum to the benefits of Wi-Fi 6, ensuring continued innovation and support for the ultra-high performance connectivity needed of today’s home, enterprise, and automotive markets. Marvell, now NXP, was among the first companies to be Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6, and NXP continues to play a leading role in helping Wi-Fi Alliance innovate and drive the adoption of powerful new technologies like Wi-Fi 6E.” – Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager of wireless connectivity at NXP Semiconductors

“By extending Wi-Fi 6 into the 6GHz band, we can expect high performance connectivity with greater capacity, increased speed and lower latency for continuous innovation in home networking and enterprise applications. We are excited to welcome the addition of Wi-Fi 6E as consumers will subsequently benefit from these advancements in their connected devices and services.” – Irvind Ghai, vice president of Marketing, Quantenna Connectivity Solutions at ON Semiconductor

“Qualcomm Technologies believes in the continued evolution of technologies for unlicensed spectrum to deliver powerful, next-generation connected experiences at scale and across diverse product categories worldwide. The ground-breaking potential of extending the already transformative characteristics of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6GHz band is hard to overstate, and we applaud Wi-Fi Alliance’s leadership in unleashing a new era of high speed, low latency Wi-Fi 6 experiences for the 6GHz band.” – Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, Connectivity & Networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.