Talking about WiFi 6E is not about inaugurating a new standard like WiFi 6 was a couple of years ago. It is about adding more power to the connection and above all giving the standard more room for maneuver in areas increasingly densely populated by WiFi routers.
We are increasingly demanding more robust connections, and more and more users have contracted bandwidths of 600 Mbps and even 1 Gbps. So we are going to study what news this extension brings us, where we can take advantage of it and when and in what form it will be available.
WiFi 6E is not a new standard
This is something that should be clear to all users who are interested in faster wireless connections. If we remember everything, WiFi 6 began to come into our lives in 2019, and still today most users have a WiFi 5 and WiFi 4 router at home.
Fortunately, if you have recently bought a laptop, it is practically certain that it will come with WiFi 6. All current generation computers, as well as desktop motherboards, already have cards belonging to the IEEE 802.11ax standard . But how to differentiate a WiFi network 4, 5, 6 ac, ax, etc?
Very simple, the WiFi Alliance began to simplify the nomenclature of the different WiFi standards in 2018, and instead of placing letters at the end of the name “WiFi” it opted to place numbers in order to clearly mark the generations. If at home we have a generic operator router, or one with more than 2 years, it will be working with WiFi 4 and WiFi 5, or what is the same WiFi and WiFi ac . This means that it will be Dual Band, because in the first case we would be operating in the 2.4 GHz band and in the second in the 5 GHz band.
WiFi 6 (and surely the ones to come) is a standard that alone is capable of operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency . Well, what WiFi 6E does is extend the capacity of normal WiFi 6 by adding a greater range of frequencies to connect, more specifically we could reach up to 7.125 GHz . We must be clear that a WiFi 6E router or network card will be backward compatible with other standards, but never the other way around , that is, a WiFi 5 router can never be upgraded to WiFi 6 or 6E.
What’s new in WiFi 6E
In an effort to standardize wireless connectivity in the world and also provide the new generation of equipment with greater capacity, the WiFi 6E update appears. Surely you have already seen a motherboard or laptop with this certification.
Increase in frequencies and channels
The main change in 6E is that the WiFi network now extends its operating frequency range by 1.2 GHz more. This means that, instead of going from 2.4 GHz to the current 5.925 GHz, WiFi 6E extends the range to 7.125 GHz , just 1.2 GHz more. Indeed, we were almost touching the 6 GHz band, so now we use it entirely for our connection.
The first and most important benefit at the user level is the improvement in connection robustness. By this we mean that in areas where there are a large number of WiFi networks, for example, a building, our WiFi 6E connection will not experience downturns or work for the worse. And is that the range from 2.4 to 5 GHz with channel frequencies 20, 40, 80 and 160 MHz is used by practically all users , and consequently, the frequency spectrum ends up really congested. Eventually, almost all the channels in the frequency range can be saturated, making it increasingly costly for the customer to identify which carrier is carrying their respective data.
If we enter this new range, we will practically not find any competition, since at the beginning there will be very few users who use WiFi 6E. But everything is covered for the future, with the addition of 7 new additional channels on the 160 MHz frequency and up to 14 additional channels on 80 MHz . The two frequencies that provide the greatest bandwidth in the connection are reinforced to be able to accommodate a greater number of simultaneous transmissions at maximum capacity.
We must also remember the inherent features that WiFi 6 includes such as MU-MIMO, OFDMA and BSS Color. MU-MIMO is the technology that allows information to be sent to several clients at the same time , while OFDMA is capable of dividing the transmission into different carriers within the same channel. BSS Color is the technology in charge of assigning a unique or different identifier to each simultaneous transmission within the same channel so that the client knows how to identify it quickly.
Another basic aspect of using a higher frequency wave is that it is capable of carrying more information. By focusing primarily on 80 and 160 MHz waves and reaching more than 7 GHz at the transmitter, the bandwidth will be increased by 30% theoretically . This means more volume of data transmitted per second even in a 1 × 1 connection (a single antenna in client and server), exceeding the actual Gigabit per second .
Obviously this is yet to be seen, since the real figures are always lower due to losses in the medium, consumption in encryption and the format of the frames according to the protocol.
One of the biggest problems faced by such a high transmission frequency is the penetration capacity , that is, the solvency with which the frequency is able to cross obstacles. The more curly the wavelength is (more Hz), the more difficult it is for you to get through things, and the more information you will lose along the way. This is clearly seen in the analysis of routers when we measure the coverage with 2.4 and 5 GHz in the same area. The lower frequency band always goes further , so 7.125 GHz will have worse coverage than the current 5 GHz.
With total security WiFi 6E will appear as a combined or individual operating mode in advanced routers , thus being able to create three different SSIDs to choose the one that best suits us at all times. It would be a 2.4 GHz access point, another 5 GHz and a new 6 GHz , in this way we can choose between less coverage and more bandwidth or the opposite.
The first 6E WiFi devices
The first manufacturer to make its announcement about the world’s first router with WiFi 6E will be Asus, of course. It was already the first to announce the Asus RT AX88U with WiFi 6, and now it comes with what is perhaps the most powerful general consumer router in the world.
We already talked about this beast called Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 in a news story a while ago, and it is already available on the official website. It will use a 6 GHz amplifier together with a 1.8 GHz Quad-Core CPU and 1 GB of RAM to deliver us with its 8 antennas connections of:
- 4GHz AX: 4 × 4 1024 QAM 40MHz at 1148Mbps
- 5GHz AX: 4 × 4 1024 QAM 160MHz at 4804Mbps
- 6GHz AX: 4 × 4 1024 QAM 160MHz at 4804Mbps
In this case it can be seen that the bandwidth in 5 and 6 GHz is the same theoretical, not experiencing that 30% that in principle can be improved. It would be necessary to see what real data is thrown, although for this we would need a 6E 4 × 4 WiFi client, which does not exist.
Both Brocadcom and Qualcomm and Intel itself already have electronics for WiFi 6E clients. The blue brand has its Intel WiFi 6E AX210 card and the Killer AX1675 variant ready , although they will still be 2 × 2 with a maximum bandwidth of 2.4 Gbps. They also release a new Bluetooth 5.2 interface . These cards have already been specified in Asus Z590 motherboards for the new 11th generation of Intel Rocket Lake processors, possibly the rest of the manufacturers doing the same.