Today’s networks, characterised by interfering sources, heavily loaded access points, and indoor and outdoor deployments, require enhanced Wi-Fi capabilities that improve performance, spectrum efficiency and throughput. Users demand constant connectivity and efficient Wi-Fi performance at home and at work, in transportation hubs, stadiums and malls, and also while using public transportation.
To meet the increasing user demand for swift, secure and seamless Wi-Fi service, 6 GHz spectrum is being made available. The capacity provided by this new spectrum will enhance overall Wi-Fi network performance.
Wi-Fi 6E is suitable for low-power, indoor use cases such as home automation, security and industrial IoT deployments, as it can benefit from innovations in Wi-Fi 6 such as target wake time (TWT) and advanced scheduling, specifically designed with the IoT market in mind.
Wi-Fi 6E: Key features
Wi-Fi 6E devices support all the features introduced in Wi-Fi Certified 6, including uplink and downlink orthogonal frequency division multiple access; downlink multi-user MIMO; TWT; efficient modulation schemes; increased symbol duration for robust outdoor performance; and improved MAC signalling. This powerful set of features carry over into the 6 GHz band, enabling Wi-Fi 6E devices to deliver robust, high performance connectivity for businesses, consumers and service providers.
The 6 GHz spectrum refers to up to 1200 MHz of contiguous spectrum directly adjacent to 5 GHz, wherein Wi-Fi already operates. This can triple the spectrum available in countries that allocate the full 1200 MHz spectrum. Expanding the available operating spectrum enables the use of wider channels and higher aggregate performance, even in highly congested Wi-Fi environments. Wi-Fi 6E devices support up to 60 wide channels of 20 MHz, 28 wide channels of 40 MHz, 14 wide channels of 80 MHz, and seven super wide 160 MHz channels. Wider channels enable superior performance for the most demanding applications and scenarios.
Regulators that approve the use of the full 1200 MHz spectrum make it feasible to deploy faster, more efficient networks for their markets, providing better end-user experiences as Wi-Fi 6E devices deliver the full benefits of Wi-Fi 6. Enterprises deploying Wi-Fi 6E networks have access to 40 MHz, 80 MHz and 160 MHz channels. Access to dozens of non-overlapping channels simplifies IT planning significantly, improves frequency reuse, and makes it possible for IT managers to deploy access points (APs) that are two to four times faster than 5 GHz APs using 20 MHz channels.
Efficient network discovery schemes
Wi-Fi 6E devices periodically broadcast probe response or fast initial link set-up discovery frames in preferred scanning channels, which provide information for enhanced passive discovery by devices. This reduces the need for AP probing and associated signalling overhead, leading to more efficient use of spectrum. In addition to enhanced discovery within the 6 GHz band, Wi-Fi 6E devices provide out-of-band discovery mechanisms that allow multiband devices to detect 6 GHz networks by scanning the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Multiband APs typically advertise the 6 GHz capability in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands using legacy modulations to aid discovery. This capability, powered by Wi-Fi Agile Multiband, enhances the basic service set network performance by enabling Wi-Fi 6E devices to quickly determine and transition to the optimum channel or band for its current use.
Wi-Fi 6 introduced new mechanisms to reduce channel contention and collisions between devices. These techniques work exceptionally well in the 6 GHz band, where only Wi-Fi 6E devices with advanced capabilities operate.
Wi-Fi 6E devices require WPA3 security, which entails the use of protected management frames and Wi-Fi certified enhanced open to provide data protection to users accessing unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Use cases where Wi-Fi 6E is the best technology choice
Modern Wi-Fi use is characterised by a large number of devices, diverse device types, multiple Wi-Fi generations, and a variety of wireless applications running in a single coverage area. This is true for single-family and multi-family residential networks, office networks and managed networks in shopping malls, hotels, stadiums and transportation hubs. Users expect to be able to use any application they desire including high definition and 4K video streaming, online gaming, and video meeting applications almost anywhere. Homes and offices expand this list with uses such as wireless display, surveillance video and smart home systems.
Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E devices provide better user experience and performance improvements in a wide range of connectivity scenarios, from basic functionalities to bandwidth-intensive tasks in dense networks that require high throughput and low latency. Wi-Fi 6E significantly increases the overall network capacity, determinism and performance by leveraging up to 1200 MHz of greenfield spectrum. This enables the successful implementation of advanced use cases in virtually any connectivity market segment – home Wi-Fi, IoT and managed networks everywhere.
Wi-Fi 6E extends all the Wi-Fi network capabilities of Wi-Fi 6, with mechanisms to effectively handle different types of traffic from multiple users simultaneously. This provides users with higher throughput and improved device battery life in the 6 GHz spectrum band, enabling new use cases and enhancing existing ones.
Extremely dense radio frequency environments
While modern Wi-Fi involves more devices doing more things, Wi-Fi 6E can bring meaningful benefits for certain challenging environments. Transportation hubs and shopping malls are challenging environments that experience very high interference between APs in the same network, or between APs belonging to different networks. Unmanaged networks and other technologies that use the same spectrum present additional interference challenges. These environments witness high levels of device mobility between APs. They also have to manage the changing requirements for Wi-Fi capacity based on events, time of day, and other factors. Since mobile devices have limited spatial streams, it is essential that Wi-Fi networks in transportation hubs and malls have high capacity to handle a massive number of users at once, and that the network edge and roaming capabilities are reliable.
In addition to providing a larger number of and wider channels as compared to Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6E devices enable the use of transmit beamforming and enhance each connection to a Wi-Fi AP. This allows more users to connect to APs, and also provides high throughput. The addition of Wi-Fi 6E expands and improves the ability of Wi-Fi networks to deliver better performance for each user application, despite high traffic and interference levels.
Advanced video applications – AR/VR and body computing
There are new uses of immersive, interactive augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed reality coming to the market every year. These new applications require extremely low latency and high throughput to provide the desired experience. Beyond entertainment and gaming, AR/VR and mixed reality are evolving to include remote surgery, remote building walk-throughs, and body-worn cameras or computers with live stream feeds. Many other use cases are emerging that require wider channel bandwidths to deliver optimal user experience.
Wi-Fi 6E provides up to 1200 MHz extra bandwidth to handle these applications, including up to seven superwide 160 MHz channels. Using wider channels dramatically decreases data transmission time, which in turn significantly reduces overall network latency. All Wi-Fi devices operating in the 6 GHz band must support Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6E can provide a superior user experience for stadiums and other highly congested venues. During events, users want to have access to video from different camera angles, as well as the ability to provide real-time social media commentary in every seat. Attendees frequently upload pictures and videos to share their experiences and download data to augment their knowledge during the events. When deploying Wi-Fi 6E networks, network planners and venue owners can better manage Wi-Fi coverage and capacity for these dense scenarios to provide a seamless, high quality user experience. This can be done by leveraging full multi-user capabilities and 60 additional 20 MHz wide channels available with Wi-Fi 6E. This will improve their coexistence with overlapping networks.
Unified communications and cloud computing
Enterprises that have deployed earlier generations of Wi-Fi typically chose 20 MHz or 40 MHz channel bandwidths to maximise frequency reuse without interruption. Wi-Fi 6E devices can triple the amount of available bandwidth, a major benefit for network planners. They can now deploy wider bandwidth and more reliable networks, with enough capacity for channel reuse without overlap. This benefits almost any type of enterprise environment, but a key emerging use for Wi-Fi 6E in the enterprise is the ability to harmonise computing and unify the communications systems that today’s digital workforce uses. Unified communications help network managers to cohesively package the many different platforms upon which employees communicate and collaborate to simplify the way teams work. This can result in increased productivity and reduced costs because these systems operate in the cloud. Unified communications can include applications such as messaging platforms, voice- and videoconferencing, collaboration tools and file sharing. These can be managed through Wi-Fi locally or in cloud-based computing environments. Wi-Fi 6E can provide superior capacity and lower latency for these enterprise applications, as well as data storage and backup, training and more by optimising frequency reuse with wider bandwidth channels.
In the new digital economy, many employees can work from anywhere. They do so primarily through Wi-Fi. The Covid-19 pandemic, which led to worldwide lockdowns, increased the work-from-home trend globally. It has also highlighted the importance of reliable, well-managed Wi-Fi as a key enabler in work-from-home scenarios. Telepresence goes beyond enabling individual employees to work from their homes. It can also be used to webcast meetings where streaming content or high resolution graphics must be delivered to dozens of individual workstations simultaneously, and to access remote areas of the world where sending humans could be cost prohibitive or difficult. Wi-Fi 6E is the premier technology choice in these situations due to its faster higher aggregate data rates, lower latency and higher number of wider channels. s
Based on a white paper, “Wi-Fi 6E:
Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz band”, released
by the Wi-Fi Alliance