While Wi-Fi 6 is starting to make some headway, some are already looking ahead to far faster Wi-Fi 6E speeds. Although theoretically a small advance, Wi-Fi 6E is likely to offer far higher speeds in real-life use …

Background

We previously explained the difference between plain Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E:

Wi-Fi 6e is a revolution for wireless networking. The best way I know how to explain it is to imagine if all Tesla cars had a road just for themselves. How much less traffic would you see on your commute? That is what Wi-Fi6e creates.

It operates on the 6 GHz band so that no legacy devices can access it. Wi-Fi 6e devices will be able to work on Wi-Fi 6 and other previous standards, but no devices without 6e support will be able to access the superhighway. From a capacity standpoint, it’ll have access to 59 non-overlapping channels, so places like sports arenas, concert halls, and other high-density environments will provide much more capacity with less interference.

This would match the kinds of wireless speeds currently only seen with mmWave 5G (above photo).

To make this goal a reality, more radio spectrum is needed to ensure that Wi-Fi 6E doesn’t end up as congested as legacy channels once it becomes the norm. The FCC gave the necessary permissions for this – allowing manufacturers to make free use of the 6GHz band – but AT&T filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the decision. It claimed that use of the 6GHz spectrum would interfere with the microwave it uses to send data between cellular towers.

Court ruling paces way for faster Wi-Fi 6E speeds

The Verge reports that the FCC yesterday won the court battle.

A ruling (pdf) on Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has backed up an April 2020 decision by the FCC to open up 1,200MHz of spectrum in the 6GHz band for unlicensed use. Unlicensed means anyone can use it, as long as they do so responsibly, covering uses like your future Wi-Fi 6E home network […]

While 6GHz Wi-Fi has the same theoretical top speed as 5GHz Wi-Fi, the extra space means that instead of getting so much interference from other devices and nearby networks, you’ll have a faster, more consistent connection. Last year a representative for the Wi-Fi Alliance told The Verge that this should enable 1–2 Gbps connections over Wi-Fi, similar to what you see now with mmWave 5G.

The court accepted the FCC’s argument that the low power of Wi-Fi 6E routers would not interfere with the much higher-power transmissions involved in sending cellular data up to 50 miles.

When Apple users will be able to enjoy Wi-Fi 6E speeds is as yet unclear. It’s been reported that the company plans to offer support in the iPhone 14, but this plan may be derailed by component shortages. The iPhone 13 supports Wi-Fi 6, but not 6E.

Photo: Frederik Lipfert/Unsplash

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