Aerial view of a highway

The latest Marvel movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, was released a couple of weeks ago and it was awesome, but all everyone wants to talk about is the next movie. What’s the Eternals going to be like? Who’s this other Hawkeye? How many Spider-mans (Spider-men?) are going to show up in December’s newest wall-crawler flick?

It’s the same in the tech world too.

There is still a lot of buzz in the market about Wi-Fi 6. And rightfully so, it’s an industry-changing technology that revolutionized the tech world. But like the newest Marvel movie, everyone is always eager to talk about the future. And boy, does the future of networking look promising with Wi-Fi 6E.

To keep the Marvel analogy going, Wi-Fi 6E is the Doctor Strange of the technology universe. Much like the good doctor is a part of the Avengers who also has solo adventures, Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6GHz spectrum. Since the spectrum is new and only accepts Wi-Fi 6E devices, it doesn’t have any of the old problems currently clogging up your network. You get better network reliability and more capacity and has tougher security of WPA3 protecting your network from outside attacks.

The international community is following the United States’ FCC lead in making more spectrum available for unlicensed wireless networking use. As we have seen in the past, individual countries are adopting their own regulations, but the majority are aligning with the FCC ruling for 1200 MHz (5925-7125 MHz) or the EU’s 500 MHz (5925-6425 MHz). That means that Wi-Fi 6E is going to be available everywhere, real soon.

Sounds great, but what does that mean to me?

With the wider channel bandwidths (80 and 160 MHz) available in the 6GHz spectrum, this means that technologies that might be difficult to deploy in real world deployments in the 5 GHz band will be easier to realize. This is due to the density of access points and the limited, discontinuous nature of the 5GHz band. However, with the vast spectrum available in 6GHz, it now becomes possible to deploy these 80 and even 160 MHz channels in dense deployments, without experiencing co-channel interference.

Aside from the wider channels, the fact that only Wi-Fi 6E capable devices will be supported in the new 6GHz, means that all clients and access points are operating at the latest—and fastest—Wi-Fi protocol. No more waiting on slower 802.11a/b/g/n or even ac devices competing for airtime and transferring their data at those slower rates. With all Wi-Fi 6E devices on the same protocol, this will make for an extremely efficient use of available airtime compared to the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, further increasing the overall capacity of the network.

Capacity and data rates are not the only parameters that are important for wireless networking. The latest advances in applications such as augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) place extreme demands on latency requirements. Wi-Fi 6 provided a marked improvement over previous generations with the introduction of orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA). Wi-Fi 6E expands on this by ensuring all clients in the band support OFDMA, which makes for even lower latency values and a more deterministic overall network.

A quick refresher: OFDMA is a Wi-Fi 6 technology that improves wireless network performance by establishing independently modulating subcarriers within frequencies. This approach allows simultaneous transmissions to and from multiple clients.

Keep an eye on Cisco in the coming weeks as we’ll provide you with the latest news for Wi-Fi 6E—specifically our Wireless page. You’ll be treated to blogs and podcasts that will tackle the new technology in depth, plus a lot more news as soon as it becomes available.


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David Wolf

Product Manager - WNBU