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Wi-Fi 6E Routers: What are the benefits? main image Wi-Fi 6E Routers: What are the benefits? image

Wi-Fi 6E

What are the benefits?

published 23 April 2021 | DeviceDeal blog

Learn all about the new 6Ghz band for Wi-Fi connections.

What is Wi-Fi 6E?

Wi-Fi 6E can be thought of as an 'extension' to the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard. It has all the benefits associated with Wi-Fi 6, but adds additional support for the 6Ghz wireless spectrum (we'll explain how this benefits you later in our article). 

What does this all mean?

You'll get the same faster speeds that Wi-Fi 6 offers, but with even less congestion. This is particularly helpful in crowded environments where hundreds of devices might be connected to the same network.

By reducing congestion, you'll get faster speeds and reduced latency since you won't be 'road-blocked' by other devices competing for bandwidth on limited channels. 

Wi-Fi 6E expands Wi-Fi into the new 6Ghz spectrum.

Why's it important?

We've all dealt with slow Wi-Fi before (that's nothing new). In many cases, your Wi-Fi might be slow because there are too many people using it at the same time - this is known as congestion. As its name suggests, congestion is like cramming lots of cars onto a 2-lane freeway. At some point, there will be too many cars for the freeway to handle, and you'll end up stuck in traffic going at 20kms/hr, listening to your sad song Spotify playlist.

To achieve fast speeds, apart from the actual network infrastructure (such as the NBN or 5G), we also need to reduce congestion. But how exactly do we do this?

A bit of background

There are two main bands in use for Wi-Fi networks. You may have heard of them already, but if you haven't then all you need to know is that they're called the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands.

These two bands have their own purposes, and their pitfalls.

  • 2.4Ghz: Good for long-range coverage. It's able to penetrate through solid objects more easily, which means better signal reception. However, it only supports speeds up to a maximum of 600Mbps. Some old routers may only support the 2.4Ghz band.
  • 5Ghz: Great for speeds, but suffers in signal reception. This band uses a higher wavelength, which can transmit more data than the 2.4Ghz band, but it also has a harder time passing through objects.

Most modern routers support both of these bands, and which you choose to go with largely depends on whether you need greater speeds, in which case you should use the 5Ghz band, or signal coverage, in which case you should use the 6Ghz band.

The issue with 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands

So why do we need another new band when these have been working fine so far? The technical answer can get a bit complicated, and it's really only applicable for certain scenarios, but the short of it is this: congestion (yes, we know we always come back to this).

You see, each Wi-Fi band has a certain number of channels that it can use to transmit data. Think of channels as like lanes on a freeway. Furthermore, some channels are overlapping channels, which can interfere with one another. That's also something we want to avoid.

The 2.4Ghz band has 11 Wi-Fi channels, of which only 3 are non-overlapping. Put another way, 8 of the channels available to the 2.4Ghz band are prone to interfering with each other due to overlapping. What's also bad is that a lot of other devices use the 2.4Ghz band to transmit data, such as USB mice and keyboards. That creates even more interference, which is not good.

Thankfully, 5Ghz fares much better. It has 45 channels available, of which 24 are non-overlapping.

Wi-Fi 6E, using the 6Ghz bands, has even more channel bandwidth than what's on offer from 5Ghz. In addition, the channels that Wi-Fi 6E uses are wider while also offering higher throughput. Using the freeway analogy, that's like making each lane capable of having more cars side-by-side (not something you'd see in the real-world, but stick with it for now), as well as increasing the maximum speed of the cars themselves.  

So what are the benefits?

Less congestion, faster speeds

The headlining feature of Wi-Fi 6E is its dramatically increased channel bandwidth, courtesy of the 6Ghz spectrum band. The jump from 5Ghz to 6Ghz might not sound significant, but it really is.

Imagine if you're in a shopping centre with hundreds of other people connected to the free Wi-Fi network. Everyone would be vying for bandwidth, slowing down the entire network for everybody. Wi-Fi 6E mitigates this issue by increasing the width of the channels (meaning more data can be transmitted per channel), and the number of channels available (allowing more people to connect to different channels). 

This, in turn, can lead to increased speeds in scenarios where lots of devices are connected to the same network.

Higher capacity networks

By reducing channel interference while supporting higher bandwidths, Wi-Fi 6E allows networks to support hundreds of devices. If you connect to a Wi-Fi 6E supported network in a crowded and busy environment, you should notice less latency and dropouts (so anywhere public, really!). 

What do I need to upgrade?

Do I even need to upgrade?

Before searching for a brand new Wi-Fi 6E router and supported device, ask yourself whether you even need to upgrade. Since the main purpose of Wi-Fi 6E is to reduce network congestion, you'll really only notice its benefits in crowded environments. This includes shopping centres, public Wi-Fi receptions, or perhaps your office.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi 6 (without the E) does bring improvements to speed even for single devices. It can reach up to 9.6Gbps in throughout - the same as 6E. It also reduces congestion compared to Wi-Fi 5, although not to the extent that 6E does, being that Wi-Fi 6 is still limited to the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. So perhaps it would be better to get a standard Wi-Fi 6 router without bothering about Wi-Fi 6E. That way, you'll still be 'future-proofed' until at least 2023 when Wi-Fi 7 is planned to be introduced.

I want to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E, what do I need?

If you're dead-set on having Wi-Fi 6E, it's important to know that your existing devices will need to be upgraded. This means:

  • You'll need a router which supports Wi-Fi 6E, and;
  • Devices such as phones, laptops or computers that also support Wi-Fi 6E.

Since Wi-Fi 6E uses an entirely new 6Ghz bands, you'll need a new router that can transmit on those higher wavelengths as well as devices with antennas and network adapters that can transmit and decode the higher frequencies. So no, your iPhone's and Samsung Galaxy's probably won't cut it - unless they specifically state they support Wi-Fi 6E. 

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