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Wi-Fi 6E: What is it, and why does it matter?

15 February 2021 / Written by Winston

Learn what Wi-Fi 6E is and how it's different from normal Wi-Fi 6.

What is Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi 6E (E for "extended") is identical to Wi-Fi 6, with the addition of being able to operate in the 6GHz band.

It has the same advantages as Wi-Fi 6, namely faster speeds and reduced latency, with the added benefit of less interference from competing signals.

Are there any benefits to this?

Yes.

Imagine all of your devices trying to connect to Wi-Fi on the same spectrum band. Bands such as 2.4GHz transmit not only Wi-Fi data from multiple devices, but also different data from a range of applications, such as the USB receivers used on many wireless mice.

The existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands have become increasingly crowded by an influx of devices attempting to receive and transmit data. 

This is akin to cramming many passengers onto a bus. Over time, with too many passengers, the bus will become crowded and cause what is known as congestion, resulting in poor signals and slow Wi-Fi.

By opening a new band spectrum, 6GHz Wi-Fi provides another avenue for devices to transmit and receive data. Furthermore, Wi-Fi 6E's increased spectrum bandwidth is considerably larger than both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, which means there are even more pathways for data transmission.

All in all, this results in congestion being considerably lower when using the Wi-Fi 6E standard.

Features:

6GHz band

Continguous spectrum

Wider channels

Less interference

Will my existing router work with Wi-Fi 6E?

If you've bought a Wi-Fi 6 router recently, you might be wondering whether it's compatible with the new 6E standard.

Unfortunately, to use the new 6GHz band, you will need a new router and devices that support it. Since older hardware does not have the capabilities to broadcast or receive on 6GHz bands, they won't be able to use Wi-Fi 6E at all.

There are some downsides, though.

There are two minor pitfalls to Wi-Fi 6E.

The first is shorter rangeHigher broadcast frequencies typically result in shorter transmission ranges. We already see this as 5GHz Wi-Fi does not transmit as far as 2.4GHz. 

The second is cost. Implementing more bands (tri-band and quad-band hardware) is more expensive than simpler single or dual-band systems. The hardware and material cost will result in higher prices.

Do I need to upgrade?

It really depends.

Are you someone who has a lot of network congestion?

If you have a lot of devices on the same network, lots of neighbours or live in a crowded area, it might be worth upgrading to Wi-Fi 6E.

This is because the 6GHz band is largely free of contesting signals, which means congestion will not be an issue. Furthermore, the 6GHz band virtually guarentees lower latency, which is always a positive for gamers and streamers.

We recommend reading our Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 article if you haven't already, as this goes into more detail about the specific benefits brought by Wi-Fi 6.

Summary

  • Wi-Fi 6E (E for "Extended") adds 6GHz-band support to the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard
  • The new 6GHz band on Wi-Fi 6E helps to reduce congestion on existing bands
  • You'll need to upgrade your router and devices to take advantage of this (existing Wi-Fi 6 routers are limited to 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands)
  • Whether upgrading is worth it depends if you experience congestion on your current network

Frequently Asked Questions

Technically no. Wi-Fi 6E shares the same maximum theoretical bandwidth (9.6Gbps) as Wi-Fi 6, so it won't be any faster. However, in areas or places with high amounts of congestion, then Wi-Fi 6E has the potential to have faster speeds as there is a reduced risk of interference over the 6GHz band.

It depends. We'd recommend checking with your device manufacturer to double check. Wi-Fi 6 devices are different from Wi-Fi 6E devices, so you'll need to make sure it can connect to the 6GHz band.

There are Wi-Fi 6E routers planned to be release in early 2021. We'll keep you updated when we have them in stock.

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