Wi-Fi 6 reaches 50% Market Share
If you’ve been wondering if now is a good time to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6, you’re definitely late to the party. The Wi-Fi Alliance recently reported that Wi-Fi 6 surpassed 50% market share in three years, compared to the four years it took for Wi-Fi 5. The Alliance cited several reasons for this fast adoption, including Wi-Fi usage in the Internet of Things (IoT) and improved performance in Wi-Fi dense public areas. However, Wi-Fi 6E appears to be the main draw, with the Alliance reporting that “Wi-Fi 6E has seen...strong adoption in products and in service provider and enterprise deployments.”
About Wi-Fi 6E
As explained here, Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of the Wi-Fi 6 specification that incorporates products that support the 6 GHz wireless spectrum. That is, all Wi-Fi 6 devices (and many previous generations) use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum, so there’s more contention for this bandwidth. Wi-Fi 6E adds the 6 GHz spectrum, with more channels and less competition for the spectrum.
Note that the availability of the 6 GHz bandwidth is decided on a country-by-country basis. While the US, Canada, and European Union have opened up the 6GHz band for 6E usage, support from other countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, is nascent.
Where 6E is available, it’s made a significant difference in general purpose usages, as well as in healthcare and academia. For example, Turkish phone company Turk Telekom recently tested Wi-Fi 6 in closed lab testing and over the internet, and found that “by operating in the 6 GHz spectrum, interference and latency are dramatically reduced, enhancing the user experience with increased speed and performance worthy of the next generation applications currently being discussed.”
In addition to immediate performance enhancements, company officials see that Wi-Fi 6 “lay[s] the groundwork for Wi-Fi 7 so that citizens can utilize the digitally immersive services that will drive advancements in education, manufacturing, entertainment and more.”
Wi-Fi 6E: Enhanced Security
Beyond the new spectrum, Wi-Fi 6E is also very secure. That’s because Wi-Fi 6E devices, like all Wi-Fi 6 devices, require WPA3 security certification, replacing the legacy WPA2 standard and making Wi-Fi security options more robust than ever. This can be critical in a hospital or similar environment where the need for security is paramount.
For example, when Novant Health rolled out a new Wi-Fi 6E network in October, 2021, they identified WPA3 and Enhanced Open, another wireless security standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance, as key technology drivers. Of course, they loved the speed and pristine spectrum as well, as evidenced by this statement from Allen Rider, Chief Wireless Network Architect. “Wi-Fi 6E brings 1200 Mhz of interference-free spectrum that will enable advanced healthcare deployment scenarios. Our mission-critical, Wi-Fi-enabled care equipment will now have its own clean airspace to ensure the delivery of revolutionary new services.”
Wi-Fi 6E has also proved compelling on ultra-large campuses like the University of Michigan, which recently spent US $11 million dollars to upgrade to 6E, adding over 15,000 network access points, and enabling the University to support a number of key academic needs. For example, in large auditoriums, students can collaborate via Zoom creating subgroups while maintaining social distances. The 6E network also provides the enhanced connectivity to support robots in the Ford Robotics Building, built in collaboration with the Ford Motor Company.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are the fruits of the Wi-Fi development community’s continual investment in R&D to produce technological enhancements that solve real problems for Wi-Fi users and enable and enhance new applications. As a patent pool administrator, Sisvel helps companies that fund this R&D recoup their investment so they can perform more research to deliver even more benefits in future versions.
Photo of Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay