Last September, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai mentioned that the FCC was interested in “opening up 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6GHz band for different types of unlicensed uses,” including Wi-Fi.
Now it seems that the industry involving Wi-Fi-enabled devices is already gearing up to develop products that can make use of that freed up spectrum in the 6GHz band. According to a press release published on Friday, January 3, the Wi-Fi Alliance has even come up with a name for this new class of devices: Wi-Fi 6E. These devices are also expected to still offer the same features of Wi-Fi 6, namely things like faster data rates and lower latency.
As the Wi-Fi Alliance notes, it’s expected that once the 6GHz band is open for use, the kinds of devices that will use it first include “Wi-Fi 6E consumer access points and smartphones, followed by enterprise-grade access points.” In addition, Wi-Fi 6E is also expected to be adopted by “industrial environments” for uses such as “machine analytics, remote maintenance, or virtual employee training.” Other possible applications for 6GHz band and Wi-Fi 6E also include augmented reality and virtual reality.
Notably, the opening up of the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi is also expected to help deal with what the Wi-Fi Alliance refers to as a “Wi-Fi spectrum shortage.” This particular shortage means that the increasing demand for Wi-Fi will eventually surpass the actual capacity of the currently available unlicensed spectrum.
By opening 6GHz to Wi-Fi, it’s expected that 6GHz will help fix the shortage “providing contiguous spectrum blocks to accommodate 14 additional 80 MHz channels and seven additional 160MHz channels which are needed for high-bandwidth applications that require faster data throughput such as high-definition video streaming and virtual reality.” In addition, the use of Wi-Fi 6E devices is supposed to use this increase in capacity to “to deliver greater network performance and support more Wi-Fi users at once, even in very dense and congested environments.”