What’s the Difference Between Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E?

Put very simply, Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of the Wi-Fi 6 standard. It basically acts as a fast lane for compatible devices applications and devices which leads to faster wireless speeds and lower latency. 

But there’s more to it than that!  

One main thing to note is that Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible (meaning it works with previous Wi-Fi standards) whereas Wi-Fi 6E does not offer this. But this is part of the reason how it creates that fast lane. 

Because Wi-Fi 6E is only compatible with Wi-Fi 6E devices, there tends to be lower levels of congestion and interference within the 6 GHz band, hence helping to optimise performance. Wi-Fi 6E devices are becoming more prevalent. 

When did we start using the 6 GHz frequency band? 

Back in July 2020, Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, made access to 500MHz of radio spectrum frequency in the new 6GHz band available for home Wi-Fi networks.

This significantly boosted the speed of any indoor home wireless networks exempt from licences via the new Wi-Fi 6 / 6E standard. 

The 6GHz band is a higher frequency than the others, which means it has a lower level of coverage than the 5GHz band due to weaker signal. However, the extra spectrum allows more space for data which means faster speeds. 

The lower coverage means a more secure connection for homes due to less congestion and competition with other local Wi-Fi signals. 

Do we need new infrastructure for Wi-Fi 6E?

As we mentioned above, Wi-Fi 6E is not backward compatible like Wi-Fi 6, so this means that if you want to utilise this Wi-Fi fast lane, you need the relevant devices. So this means that yes, you will need new Wi-Fi infrastructure to use Wi-Fi 6E. 

To support this Wi-Fi standard extension, you’ll need your IT team to look at your current wireless infrastructure and identify what will need to be updated. Think routers, switches, access points and other hardware – Then you can take full advantage of the higher speeds of Wi-Fi 6E. 

It’s worth noting that when you do upgrade your infrastructure in order to support Wi-Fi 6E, you don’t necessarily need to abandon your existing Wi-Fi 6 devices and applications. You can still use these on the 2.4Ghz and 5GHz frequency bands. 

The upgraded devices that can use the 6GHz spectrum will likely help to reduce congestion on these other frequency bands – Providing a better user experience for devices connecting to both 2.5 GHz and 5GHz as well as the Wi-Fi 6E devices on the 6GHz band. 

What are the biggest benefits of Wi-Fi 6E? 

Strong, reliable Wi-Fi has become business critical. Businesses cannot function without a good Wi-Fi network – A network that needs to adequately serve an entire workforce. 

In today’s day and age, this means a workforce with some employees in the office, some working remotely and a mix of both. This hybrid workforce will have a variety of devices and apps that support this way of working. Relying on excellent Wi-Fi!

It’s a data driven world, so your business needs to make sure that the wireless network is secure, reliable, flexible and as fast as possible. Here are the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E that will most help with these business critical Wi-Fi elements. 

Wi-Fi 6E and Speed

The 6GHz band allows data to be transmitted rapidly via Wi-Fi 6E devices like smartphones, laptops and wearable devices. THe other great thing is that because it’s not backward compatible, there are none of those slow legacy devices trying to compete for bandwidth. 

These advantages with speed mean that streaming high resolution video, teleconferencing and even online gaming make Wi-Fi 6E an ideal choice. It’s perfect for these types of bandwidth-intensive applications. Real world examples are AR/VR and transferring large data files such as MRI images within healthcare. 

Wi-Fi 6E and Security

Most businesses and organisations require a secure network. It is mandatory for all Wi-Fi 6E devices to have WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) as specified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. THey ust also not have backward compatibility with WPA2. This increase in security helps to increase the confidence of your network users when moving to the 6GHz frequency band – Especially for those must-trusted connections, 

OWE (Opportunisitc Wireless Encryption Specification)  is also an option for Wi-Fi 6E. Using OWE means that the communication between a pair of endpoints is protected. The Support for Wi-Fi Enhanced Open certification is given for the 6GHz band, based on the OWE. 

What Industries Can Benefit Most from Wi-Fi 6E? 

Wi-Fi 6E really has the ability to transform any and most industries. The ones that are likely to benefit the most with the most transformative impact include the following sectors:

How Can Wi-Fi 6E Benefit the Healthcare Industry? 

We touched on how Wi-Fi 6E could support the transfer of large data files like MRI images. It also helps providers to connect more life-saving devices with fewer data delays and slowdowns. The higher speeds and lack of congestion means higher quality connections with fewer dropouts, making it impactful for telehealth appointments. 

How Can Wi-Fi 6E Benefit the Retail Industry? 

No one likes to be stuck at the point of sale waiting for the card machine to connect and take the payment. Wi-Fi 6E can help to ensure these connections are faster – Not only reducing customer frustration, but also shortening queues. The better the experience for the customer, the better the image of the brand, leading to regular custom and increased sales. 

How Can Wi-Fi 6E Benefit the Education Industry?

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen how much educational institutions have relied on technology to continue and enhance teaching. Primary Schools up to Universities have immersed themselves in virtual learning which has been carried on even when students have been welcomed back to classrooms. Wi-Fi 6E supports high throughput and concurrent data transmission which makes it ideal for a learning environment. 

Let’s not forget that more and more students are using devices and tech as a part of their daily school lessons. Newer devices that can take advantage of the 6GHz band and Wi-Fi 6E benefits, whilst older devices can still access the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands. This results in lighter traffic all round, enhancing wireless connectivity and performance and thus the learning experience. 

How Can Wi-Fi 6E Benefit the Manufacturing and Warehouse Industry?

IoT devices and sensors are becoming more and more prevalent in the manufacturing and warehouse industries. An organisation in this sector should seriously consider using Wi-Fi 6E enabled devices so they can take full advantage of this almost interference-free band. 

The brilliant thing about this is that you can split your network into two. Employees working in the office checking emails and using the internet for day to day admin can continue to use the 5GHz and 2.4 GHz bands. This leaves the Wi-Fi 6E devices on your manufacturing floor or warehouse free to run efficiently uninterrupted. 

This makes Wi-Fi 6E ideal for this industry, helping to meet service level expectations with improved reliability and lower latency.

Wi-Fi 6E Benefits for All

These industries are only a few select ones that are likely to see a huge positive impact from using Wi-Fi 6E. But most businesses and organisations could see improvements in their network by upgrading to this Wi-Fi standard extension. 

In conclusion, various industries and businesses in general can benefit from Wi-Fi 6E with the main advantages being:

  • Higher network speeds
  • Stronger security
  • Access to up to 2.5 times more spectrum 
  • A better voice and video experience 

Are you considering updating your wireless infrastructure to support Wi-Fi 6E? Why not give the experts a call! Here at Geekabit our Wi-Fi engineers can help support you and your business Wi-Fi network with professional and expert advice and installation.