Before and particularly following the pandemic, the switch from cables to Wi-Fi has accelerated like never before, and with good reason.
Organizations are now eager to move forward and embrace the transition to the cloud. As the number of devices skyrockets, so does their consumption of bandwidth-hungry video content. Naturally, the need for Wi-Fi connectivity has increased dramatically.
According to a report by the Wi-Fi Alliance, a staggering 16.4 billion consumers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices are in use today. Given sky-high demand, enterprises can benefit from free Wi-Fi bands with faster speeds and less interference. That’s precisely what Wi-Fi 6E promises to bring.
What is Wi-Fi 6E?
Wi-Fi has been in use for nearly two decades, and every so often, advancements make the technology more efficient and faster.
Wi-Fi 6E is the latest of these developments. It which broadcasts on a 6GHz band –more potent than the standard 5GHz and 2GHz – will create additional space for increasing online traffic and yield a projected $183 billion in earnings over the next five years in the United States.
The letter E indicates that it is a variant or extended version of the Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) wireless standard. It establishes an “easy and hot lane” for compatible equipment and apps, the biggest difference between Wi-Fi 6 and the new Wi-Fi 6E upgrade. The result is a boost in wireless speed and reduced latency.
How was Wi-Fi 6E developed?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a proposal to open the 6GHz band to unlicensed Wi-Fi in April 2020. In doing so, the agency unleashed 1,200 megahertz of wireless frequencies for Wi-Fi usage, leading to a tremendous upsurge in available bandwidth – ready for use.
In contrast, the 2.4GHz band, which is one of the two bands already designated for Wi-Fi, offers only 70MHz of bandwidth. More bandwidth means more channels, thereby decreasing the risk that Wi-Fi devices will clash with one another when using Wi-Fi 6E.
The Wi-Fi Alliance further developed the technology, introducing standards that will be used by Wi-Fi 6E-compatible devices and routers.
How Does Wi-Fi 6E Work?
Present-day Wi-Fi relies on two bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Wi-Fi 6E uses the 6GHz band – a third alternative. It expands the identical Wi-Fi 6 capacities to the 6 GHz frequency, resulting in improved efficiency, throughput, and reliability.
Wi-Fi 6E devices employ 14 supplementary 80 MHz frequency bands along with 7 other 160 MHz channels because of the availability of a further 1200 MHz of spectrum. This enlarged bandwidth streamlines network design and enhances Wi-Fi performance by offering greater throughput and broader channels.
Wi-Fi 6E isn’t backward compatible, which means there’s no support for legacy devices, leading to reduced network congestion. (Note that technically, it can tap into older frequencies, but it won’t be the norm for its devices, unlike in Wi-Fi 6.)
The Wi-Fi Alliance recently announced an accreditation system for Wi-Fi 6E and provides a list of 6E-enabled devices. This indicates that it is now recommended for enterprise use.
Is Wi-Fi 6E the Right Choice for Enterprises?
Wi-Fi carries the vast majority of all internet traffic produced by businesses and customers, according to research. Therefore, a faster, low-congestion Wi-Fi Lane would be suitable for enterprises struggling to keep up with wireless traffic.
Wi-Fi 6E liberates the unregulated 6 GHz spectrum band and lets it deliver the capacity needed to accommodate the high-bandwidth applications necessary for global businesses. This involves cloud computing, telepresence, and powerful Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices that facilitate everyday tasks like plant and warehouse monitoring.
It can keep pace with the rate of data transfer and remote collaboration in the modern workplace because of the 6 GHz band’s decreased latency and increased throughput. Despite having existed for a little less than five years, Wi-Fi 6E enterprise adoption is steadily rising.
Based on IDC reports, Wi-Fi 6E revenue jumped by 14.1% from the fourth quarter of 2022 to the first quarter of 2023. There are currently over 980 certified Wi-Fi 6E devices, and a projected 473 million Wi-Fi 6E units will ship in 2023, many of which are purpose-built for enterprise use.
How Can Enterprises Benefit from Wi-Fi 6E?
Companies switching to Wi-Fi 6E from their current wireless implementations will see:
1. Significantly faster network speeds
The most significant advantage is that Wi-Fi 6E systems use an exclusive spectrum with more channels. Wi-Fi 6 devices, however, share the same overcrowded spectrum and two 160 MHz channels with older Wi-Fi 4, 5, and 6 units.
This enables far greater speeds for enterprises, especially when you work with a trusted vendor. Intel’s Wi-Fi 6E, for example, offers bandwidth up to 6 times faster compared to Intel® Wi-Fi 5 on managed network connections. The benefits are slightly lesser for regular users, with nearly 3x faster speeds than Wi-Fi 5.
2. Lower latency and better user experiences
Using the private 6E spectrum, it minimizes network data transmission delays by up to 75% compared to Wi-Fi 5. This reduces latency for apps like videoconferencing or graphics programs. For enterprises, this translates to a better user experience for their employees and also an uptick in productivity.
3. More efficient device usage
Wi-Fi 6E devices offer enhanced dependability and performance. This is because of their exclusive use of the 6 GHz spectrum, which is unaffected by heavy legacy device congestion. As a result, enterprises adopting it will be able to earn greater returns from their device investments. Over time, one could expect measurable savings in IT costs.
4. Secure and high-performing enterprise networks
It works well in settings with multiple devices. It’s ability to use wider channels enables it to cope with more concurrent connections. This decreases network overload and boosts network efficacy – not just for high-bandwidth applications.
Along with its technical advantages, Wi-Fi 6E is more secure than past Wi-Fi generations. With the launch of WPA3, the latest Wi-Fi security protocol, It offers greater safeguards against safety hazards.
Considerations to Remember when Implementing Wi-Fi 6E
There are a couple of considerations when switching to it, and the first is an infrastructure overhaul. In order to accommodate Wi-Fi 6E, IT teams need to assess their existing wireless infrastructure and, if necessary, update access points, routers, switches, and other essential components so they can make the most of Wi-Fi 6E’s faster speeds.
You do not, however, have to stop using apps and devices that employ the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz frequencies. Using both simultaneously may also lead to a major boost in network performance.
Another factor to think about is the demand for regulatory sanctions in various nations. The United States, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Chile, and Guatemala have all 1200 MHz readily available. The UK, Europe, and some other countries differ in their allocation, making consistent implementation difficult for large global companies.
Combining Wi-Fi 6E with 5G: The Next Frontier for Enterprises
A solid foundation of Wi-Fi connectivity supports the incessantly evolving digital demands of enterprises, most of which happen indoors.
Wi-Fi 6E and 5G can be coupled in enterprise environments, even though 5G is generally used for outdoor connectivity. This would guarantee seamless, cost-effective defense for mission-critical apps like chemical leak discovery and factory floor management.
Using Wi-Fi 6E and 5G simultaneously allows improved connectivity regardless of whether users are switching between outdoor and indoor locations, and this is especially useful for large industrial campuses.
Ultimately, it is a vital stepping stone in the evolution of enterprise networks. Companies need to evaluate its benefits and implement them within their unique needs to get optimal results.
Learn more about Wi-Fi from Cisco’s new whitepaper, NHS Wi-Fi Explained.