More than 338 million Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to enter the market in 2021

One month ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized the first Wi-Fi device for use in the 6 GHz spectrum band (5.925–7.125 GHz), a low-power indoor transmitter from Broadcom. Now, the Wi-Fi Alliance has announced the certification for Wi-Fi 6E, which will, according to the alliance’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Kevin Robinson, will ensure device interoperability and cutting-edge WPA 3 security features.

When the FCC approved the 6 GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi operation, it made available an impressive 1,200 megahertz of spectrum. When compared to both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi operation in 6 GHz will deliver faster connectivity speeds and improved capacity, a feat that Robinson told RCR Wireless News has not been lost on regulators around the world, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not only are they recognizing the value of Wi-Fi in general,” he continued, “but they are recognizing the value of Wi-Fi operating in 6 GHz.”

As a result, momentum around Wi-Fi 6E has been picking up speed as we move into 2021, with a number of countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Chile, South Korea, and more recently, the United Arab Emirates, already releasing 6 GHz spectrum for unlicensed Wi-Fi use. Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Jordan are among a list of other countries currently initiating similar efforts.

Beyond delivering security and interoperability, the certification of Wi-Fi 6E will represent an inflection point in device rollout and adoptions. In fact, Robinson said that more than 338 million Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to enter the market this year alone.

“There are many technologies out there that would hope to come close to that over their lifetime,” he added.

The multi-user multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) capabilities of Wi-Fi 6, combined with 6 GHz will create a number of use cases both in the home and in the enterprise space. When it comes to the home, specifically, Robinson illustrated an interesting application that could allow the user to benefit immediately from 6 GHz, even if their client devices don’t yet support the spectrum.

“You might see 6 GHz being used for the AP-to-AP link in a home mesh network — which might be referred to as the backhaul — with devices connected to 2.4 or 5 GHz fronthaul or access network,” he explained.

Even without this type of mesh set up, Wi-Fi 6E will prove incredibly valuable inside homes as consumers continue connect more and more devices to their networks and as those devices become more and more demanding.

As far as devices go, Asus, Broadcom, Intel and Qualcomm have already announced Wi-Fi 6E products, and 6 GHz support for Galaxy devices is expected soon. Robinson indicated that the first quarter of 2021 will be all about the chipsets, as is typical for a new technology. Then, flagship smartphones, PCs and laptops will follow, with compatible TVs and VR products expected to hit the market at about the mid-year mark.

In a statement announcing the certification, Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance touched on the significance of the news, commenting, “Worldwide interoperability for Wi-Fi 6E devices promotes rapid adoption and innovation in 6 GHz. Users will soon experience unprecedented Wi-Fi that significantly improves applications and delivers new use cases that will change their connected experiences.”