What is Wi-Fi 6E, and how is it different to Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6E is an expansion of Wi-Fi into a brand new frequency, 6GHz. It actually runs from the top of 5GHz up into the lower end of 7GHz.

The most obvious thing, here, is that you will need all new APs, and your clients probably won’t work with it, unless they are newer clients.

Again, I will give some references to Wi-Fi 6E, that have already been created, and not waste time going over them all again.

However, a quick summary is called for:

Wi-Fi 6E is operating in 6GHz. It gives us 59 new 20MHz channels, 29 new 40MHz channels, 14 new 80MHz channels, and 7 new 160MHz channels.

We were all hoping that 6E would create new protocols to take advantage of the new frequency space, but alas, no. The standards bodies made it 5GHz functionality in 6GHz. So, it’s 802.11ax in 6GHz. Now, there are some differences from 802.11ax in 5GHz and 2.4GHz operation, but it’s effectively the same beastie, with a few tweaks. This decision made 6GHz operation easier and cheaper for chip manufacturers and AP vendors.

The good news about 6GHz operation, is no backwards compatible requirements, and no real interferers. So, no microwave ovens, cameras, or phones to worry about.

Now, there is a caveat about Wi-Fi 6E. Not every country is on the same page. Some countries (US) have gone for the whole 59 channels, others (Europe) have only allowed half the frequency space. Some countries are still thinking about it. This is a great map to show you where your country is, and it’s kept fairly up-to-date:

https://www.wi-fi.org/sites/default/files/public/images/Wi-Fi_6E_map_20220315.jpg

It’s up to you, to make sure you follow your country rules on the use of 6GHz.

One other important thing to note about Wi-Fi 6E, is power limitations. Firstly, they are different than the rules in 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Secondly, 6GHz operation is limited (varies based on geographic area) to only using Low Power Indoor devices at the moment. Theoretically, things couyld change as newer power rules come out.

There has been a lot of talk by the vendors on 6GHz, with Aruba, Mist, and Cisco releasing information and launching APs:

Aruba

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3UMTjwlCKk

https://www.arubanetworks.com/faq/what-is-wi-fi-6e/

Mist

https://www.mist.com/documentation/wifi-6ghz-wes-purvis/

https://www.mist.com/afc-and-6-ghz-incumbents/

Cisco

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/enterprise-networks/802-11ax-solution/nb-06-wi-fi-6e-wp-cte-en.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps6YRpoaweM

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/wireless/nb-06-preparing-for-wifi-6-ebook-cte-en.html

Meraki

https://meraki.cisco.com/solutions/next-gen-wifi/?&utm_team=gtm&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=gtmao_br&campaign_id=7016Q000001Y3eoQAC&utm_audience=prospect&utm_industry=general&utm_content=webpage&utm_creative=textad&utm_country=us&utm_term=meraki&utm_id=737187o509&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1tCMusim9wIVVSitBh04egm-EAAYASABEgKQnPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

What sort of coverage do we expect from Wi-Fi 6E?

The short answer is similar to Wi-Fi 6 in 5GHz. Here is a blog discussing the difference between the frequencies:
https://www.nc-expert.com/free-space-path-loss

You can see that 6GHz is a few dB less than 5GHz, in theory. We won’t actually know much more about this until APs and clients arrive in large numbers. Here is a blog entry I wrote on APs and clients for Wi-Fi 6E:

My Story with 6E APs and Clients

Well, that rounds off this blog for now. Keep your eye for updates, as new APs and clients come out. I also intend to do some deeper dives into the operation of our new frequency. Watch this space!