FCC Approves Wi-Fi 6E

…Allowing Unlicensed Use Of 6 GHz Band For Wi-Fi


By Catherine Sbeglia

While the FCC’s decision to open up the 6 GHz frequency band for use by Wi-Fi 6 technology may not have been particularly surprising, the fact that something like this hasn’t been done in more than two decades still makes the approval a monumental one.

The ability to leverage the 6 GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi operation — referred to as Wi-Fi 6E — will deliver faster connectivity speeds and improved capacity when compared to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, making it ideal for smartphones, tablets, laptops and, perhaps most exciting, virtual/augmented devices. Further, the MU-MIMO capabilities of 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6, combined with 6 GHz will create a number of use cases both in the home and in the enterprise space.

“Extending Wi-Fi into the 6GHz spectrum band can provide more Wi-Fi capacity than all the other bands put together,” Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) CEO Tiago Rodrigues explained. “What’s more, using Wi-Fi 6 technology in the extended will deliver higher speeds, low latency and service levels that are equivalent to 5G networks and be able to support the widespread, low-cost, use of advanced business, industrial and consumer applications.”

“In terms of the capability and capacity of networks, Wi-Fi 6E, will rewrite the rules of what is possible,” he added.

For its part, the WBA has been piloting a series of Wi-Fi 6 trials across different verticals including Industry 4.0, residential, education, transportation hubs and sports stadiums etc., and have been actively extending these trials to encompass Wi-Fi 6E and additional verticals.

One trial in particular, took place in San Jose, CA and showed speeds of 2 Gbps — comparable to 5G cellular service speeds — and a consistent two-millisecond low-latency connection.

Broadcom was quick to jump on Wi-Fi 6E opportunities even before the FCC’s vote was scheduled, announcing a portfolio of Wi-Fi 6E chips as early as mid-February. The company anticipates that in the next three years, as many as 500 million Wi-Fi 6E compatible laptops and mobile devices will be in use.

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