Three years ago, Wi-Fi 6 technology hit the market, delivering faster speeds, lower latency, and increased security to Americans across the country. Since then, a number of technical developments have resulted in an even more upgraded Wi-Fi experience. As cable internet service providers continue to stay ahead of consumer demand and on the cutting edge of innovation, it’s worth taking a closer look at what these developments actually mean for consumers and their internet experience moving forward.
First, what is Wi-Fi 6E and how does it differ from Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 6 (technically named IEEE 802.11ax) is the name given to the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology released in 2019. This sixth generation of Wi-Fi technology helps with network congestion and delivers gigabit speeds—paving the way for 10G, the cable industry’s commitment to bring 10 gigabit speeds to households across the country.
Wi-Fi 6E refers to the newest batch of Wi-Fi 6 technology, which utilizes a new band of wireless spectrum. The 6 Ghz band, which the FCC approved for unlicensed use in 2020, makes available much needed bandwidth for routers to operate on. The 6 GHz decision marked the largest increase in spectrum for Wi-Fi since 1989, over 30 years ago.
As more devices go online and utilize wireless spectrum, the more crowded the airwaves get, and PCMag reports that the 6 GHz band functionally quadruples the available channels for Wi-Fi to operate, meaning Wi-Fi 6E routers and devices are even more agile than the already dexterous Wi-Fi 6 technologies.
These new technologies include Wi-Fi connected devices from routers to smart lightbulbs to tablets. Wi-Fi 6/E is also backwards compatible, meaning if someone buys a new smart speaker that runs the new standard, it will still work fine on Wi-Fi 5, it just won’t get all the same benefits. This way, as devices upgrade and get replaced and connections become faster, the transition is smooth.
What makes Wi-Fi 6/E technologies different, in short, is efficiency. Many of the updates are innovative solutions that will allow Wi-Fi functions to work better and smarter. Below is a brief breakdown of two of these developments and what they accomplish for end users.
Wi-Fi 6/E brings a more efficient way to package data as it travels on a signal, resulting in a four-fold increase in the data rate for a given channel, increasing network speeds.
Each version of Wi-Fi standard has resulted in improved battery life for devices using the network. Since each version brings with it greater speed, data is transmitted faster so the device is not consuming as much energy. However, Wi-Fi 6/E will make even more improvements in battery savings with a feature called Target Wake Time. This feature lets the device enter a low-power mode until its turn to transmit data. It doesn't sound like much, but all those short sleep times will add up to some pretty big gains in battery life.
These are just two of the highlights on Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E updates. These improvements and the many others will ensure users get the full experience of gigabit internet speeds, without a congested Wi-Fi network slowing things down. And with IoT continuing to boom, better network management will make a world of difference.