Wi-Fi 6E is happening!
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted, on April 23, to open the 6 GHz spectrum to the next-generation Wi-Fi 6E (coined by the Wi-Fi Alliance). 6E adds 14 new 80 MHz channels and seven 160 MHz channels right next to the previous Wi-Fi spectrum.
Potential uses include improving the capacity and performance of classical Wi-Fi usage and in addition supporting indoor, low-power devices in the 6G band for wearables, Augmented-Reality (AR) and devices like Virtual-Reality (VR) devices. Standard power transmissions can access 850 MHz of spectrum.
As compared to 5G mobile devices and broadband modems in the home, running at a high multi-Gbps download speed under ideal conditions, a sole Wi-Fi 6E device will eclipse prior speeds with plenty of headroom to spare. The 6 GHz channels will add twice the capacity to the present 480 MHz allocation in the 5G band. Routers will have the ability to select among a larger range of the added frequencies, thus lessening network congestion; for example, users in a housing complex or densely populated neighborhood, where they have to compete for 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz spectrum, will greatly benefit here.
Wi-Fi 6E enables access to this additional spectrum without pesky Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5 devices ‘lurking in the ether’. This will enable 6E to reach its full potential in terms of data rates, latency, and network efficiency.
Wi-Fi 6E is building upon Wi-Fi 6 use of OFDMA to expand into new applications
Wi-Fi 6 uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) which is a form of OFDM (a method of digital data modulation, whereby a single stream of data is divided into several separate sub-streams for transmission via multiple channels) but with multi-users. What this means is high efficiency. Most performance problems actually involve issues with congestion not bandwidth. Capacity is critical to minimise latency across all users in a given geographic area, on a given channel, so people can get their tasks completed. OFDMA enables a Wi-Fi 6 access point (AP) to connect with multiple devices at the same time. OFDMA partitions each radio channel into smaller resource units which it allocates strategically across clients.
1. Backbone for two-box solutions
Whether you are streaming music or watching movies on your devices is commonplace in today’s world. As a user, you want a powerful signal to reach every corner of your home, not just when you are near your router. You don’t want to be that old commercial of a guy looking for a wireless signal saying, “Can you hear me now?”.
The signal entering your home/apartment could be fiber, 5G mm Wave, or cable, and your Wi-Fi 6E will connect between the entry point (usually at an outer wall or in the basement) to the location of the Wi-Fi AP, a two-box solution, that may typically be in the center of the home/apartment (many times in the living room).
Use case example 1a: Connecting between the 5G mm wave last mile and the home Wi-Fi AP which is usually in the Living room
Use case example 1b: Connecting between the broadband cable entry point to the center of the dwelling
2. Mesh Nodes
Wi-Fi 6E is the optimum wireless spectrum utilizing the 6G band for Mesh Tri-band products which will benefit from a dedicated, high-throughput backhaul link connection between nodes. This system will utilize the 6GHz band, with little RF noise, and take advantage of multiple available 160MHz channels, while supporting seamless service to client devices on the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.
Use case 2: Mesh nodes - 6E is the ideal wireless spectrum for dedicated connection between the nodes.
What is a Mesh Network?
Mesh networks are made up of a central/main router which connects directly to the dwelling modem; there is a series of nodes or satellite nodes/modules strategically distributed throughout the dwelling. These are all a part of a single wireless network, and will share the same SSID and password, so users will not have to switch networks and passwords as a range extender would require.
Mesh nodes will help a large dwelling which has ‘dead zones’. Using a multi-node system will be much more effective than a wireless router with extenders. With a mesh network, users can have seamless connectivity in every ‘nook and cranny’ of the dwelling.
On a side note: To learn how Elastic MIMO can further improve the effectiveness of mesh nodes, also see “Revolutionizing Wireless Mesh Nodes With ElasticMIMOTM™.
Set-top boxes are typical video clients. The home entrance connects the traffic to the Set-top box.
Use Case 3: The Broadband entry point connects over 6GHz Wi-Fi to the Set-top box
Wi-Fi 6E will typically be used by set-top boxes to deliver 4K video and beyond. The 6E advantage for this application will be the dedicated, high throughput backhaul link, utilizing the available 80 and 160MHz channels for high data throughput.
4. Personal Access
Low power low latency 6GHz use case: for AR and VR applications. Connecting between the headset and the computer or the headset and the gaming console
5. Wi-Fi for large apartment complexes with many individual dwellings
Wi-Fi serving multiple apartments in the same building: 6GHz will widen the spectrum and the capacity hugely and therefore will contribute to the fact that there will be much less interference between the various Wi-Fi networks in the building. This improvement is likely to generate a lot of demand for 6GHz because interference between apartments is a real problem today.
6GHz regulation is happening! On April 23, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to draft rules that will allow unlicensed devices to operate in the 6 GHz band, thus making all 1,200 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use. This would essentially increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi by almost a factor of five and some trade groups say that this is estimated to trigger $183B in US economic growth.
New Wi-Fi 6E ICs will help meet demands for new innovative technologies in automation, IoT, and automotive applications. More technologies will emerge as we progress on with deployment of Wi-Fi 6E systems; creative designers will find many new uses for Wi-Fi 6E that we cannot even imagine at this time.