Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends.
As regulators consider releasing spectrum in the 6GHz band for unlicensed use, the Wireless Broadband Alliance tested some of the first Wi-Fi 6E devices from Broadcom and Intel that can use this spectrum and clocked speeds at 2 Gbps and 2-millisecond latency.
The results put the new Wi-Fi 6E on a par with 5G, as the WBA points out in its press release.
Wi-Fi 6E is essentially an enhanced version of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and operates in 6GHz spectrum. The technology fully schedules spectrum use to deliver consistently high speeds to all connected devices, rather than devices having to contend for shared spectrum. It delivers multi-Gigabit speeds and low latency needed for applications such as mobile gaming, virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) as well as industrial enterprise apps.
- Useful read: How will Wi-Fi complement 5G?
According to the WBA, the 6GHz band would provide more capacity than all the existing Wi-Fi bands and releasing this spectrum would alleviate congestion on Wi-Fi networks. The technology is designed to perform well particularly in congested areas, such as subway stations.
Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of WBA, said: “This trial is an important step in the process of effectively demonstrating the benefits that Wi-Fi networks can deliver in the 6GHz spectrum band. The Wi-Fi 6 standard and the 6GHz spectrum in combination can play a powerful role to deliver advanced mobile services to consumers, business and industry.”
In the U.K., Ofcom is currently consulting on improving access to 5GHz and 6GHz bands for unlicensed use. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the U.S. as well as regulators in Europe are also considering opening the 6GHz band.
Signs of Wi-Fi 6E momentum?
The trials used mobile platforms and laptop equipment that support WiFi 6E from Broadcom and Intel. Broadcom recently unveiled a range of Wi-Fi 6E chips that are targeted for production later this year and the company expects that in the next three years, there will be 500 million Wi-Fi 6E laptops and mobile devices will be in use.
Vijay Nagarajan, Vice President of Marketing at Broadcom, said: “Wi-Fi 6E will provide reliable high-throughput, low-latency wireless services by deploying Wi-Fi 6 technologies in the soon-to-be-unlicensed and uncongested 6 GHz band."
The next phase of the WBA’s Wi-Fi 6E trials will test how well the technology copes in crowded environments. CableLabs, SK Telecom and Transit Wireless will test the technology in subway systems and conduct in-home testing.
Park Jong-kwan, Vice President and Head of 5GX Labs, SK Telecom said: "With increased capacity and throughput, Wi-Fi 6E over 6GHz spectrum will enable new and innovative services for both individual and enterprise customers. SK Telecom will work closely with the Wireless Broadband Alliance and diverse companies across the globe to achieve further innovations."
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