The world of WiFi is ever changing, and soon a better, faster WiFi will be available. Thanks to an April vote by the Federal Communications Commission, WiFi 6 will have 1,200 GHz available on the band for unlicensed use, opening the door for faster performance. The change will allow for a new 6 GHz band for new devices to tap into — known as WiFi 6E. In simple terms, what this will do is allow a larger spectrum capacity or volume of usage on the band, and devices that can take advantage of this will start rolling out later this year.
Here’s everything you need to know about WiFi 6E, including when it’ll be available to use and whether or not it can make your home safer. We’ll also take a look at the privacy implications and what it means for the world of technology.
What is WiFi 6E and how is it different from WiFi?
Currently WiFi largely operates in the 2.4 GHz band or the 5 GHz band, which are radio frequencies that transmit the internet signal. A signal on the 2.4 GHz band is a little slower but reaches farther, whereas a signal on the 5 GHz band will be faster. With the introduction of WiFi 6, it’ll push the signals into a new band, and makes the band available for unlicensed spectrum use. This will also give more value to WiFi and even bring connectivity to more rural areas.
Demands in the WiFi space have grown rapidly over the years, but the unlicensed spectrum space has remained static. Opening the 6 GHz frequency will change that and WiFi 6 will be more than twice as fast as the current WiFi. While the top speed of 5 GHz and 6 GHz is technically the same, because 6 GHz band has more free space, you won’t run into your connectivity slowing down because of too many signals crowding the band.
WiFi 6E, according to the WiFi Alliance, is how the industry will denote devices with 6 GHz capabilities, because WiFi 6E is designed to be that open space on the band that the FCC just opened up. These devices will be able to take advantage of WiFi 6, which will provide higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates.
Can WiFi 6E make your home safer?
Jonathon Wright, quality assurance expert and Co-Founder of The QA Lead, says, “WiFi 6E will improve home security in one way — it will necessitate the quick adoption of WPA3 security standards. The WiFi Alliance announced the WPA3 standard in 2018, with the hope that the adoption of WiFi 6 would accelerate the use of the new standard.”
Wright added that some technologies haven’t been able to enforce the WPA3 because the network they’re connecting to doesn’t support it, but with this newest WiFi, he foresees brands being more quick to develop that appropriate infrastructure. By making this new and improved WiFi available and appealing, more companies will want to get in on it, but they’ll need the right tools to have access, thus, which should make them available for others as well.
As for WPA3, which is the higher-level WiFi security, Wright noted that the benefits of it is that it offers more protection against attacks on the network. It also protects users on public and open WiFi via individualized encryption. However, if you’re looking specifically at your home and its safety, the advantage of WiFi 6 is that it opens the door for more advanced technology and infrastructure that supports the increased security in your personal network and thus, the devices you have connected to it, like your own home security system or devices. The increased availability of connectivity will also enable high-bandwidth applications that require faster data throughput, according to the WiFi Alliance, which can include video streaming that you might use in your home security system.
When will WiFi 6E be available?
WiFi 6 has been rolling out since late 2019, and WiFi 6E devices are expected to come available in the later months of 2020 and into 2021. Broadcom announced its plans for a WiFi 6E chip and Intel is looking at bringing out its own chips in 2021. WiFi Alliance is working on a certification program for WiFi 6E as various companies work on creating their own technology, which takes a bit of time. However, the excitement for this new opportunity has companies getting to work already to roll out new products.
Expect routers and cell phones to be among the first of the new devices available, since they rely heavily on WiFi. You’ll need to have a WiFi 6E router to be able to use your WiFi 6E devices with it. Products like TVs or tablets should come next. And while you might be tempted now to get a new device with WiFi 6 capabilities, it may be worth waiting a few more months with your old gear. These devices will unlock the access to that expanded band space.
Once WiFi 6E is available for use, it could be a game changer for connectivity and security. It will not only provide better, faster connections, with more capabilities, but it will also usher in the usage of WPA3, making your network — and your home — more secure.