If you think that you just heard about Wi-Fi 6 you are correct, but the standard is already undergoing changes. Wi-Fi 6 will evolve into Wi-Fi 6E in the near future. Here is the catch. If your device (phone, laptop, TV, etc.) is NOT a Wi-Fi 6 device you will not be able to take advantage of the performance increases described below without buying new devices.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has launched its Wi-Fi 6E certification program for devices equipped to transmit signals on the newly opened 6GHz band. This will set the stage for a flood of new, next-gen devices capable of tapping into additional bandwidth at the fastest speeds of Wi-Fi.
With enough spectrum to accommodate seven 160 MHz channels at once, that 6GHz band is much wider than the 2.4 and 5GHz bands most Wi-Fi users are already familiar with — and without any older-generation devices slowing things down, it’ll act as sort of an exclusive superhighway for devices equipped to take advantage.
“Wi-Fi 6E will see rapid adoption in 2021 with more than 338 million devices entering the market, and nearly 20 percent of all Wi-Fi 6 device shipments supporting 6GHz by 2022,” said Phil Solis, research director at IDC. “This year, we expect to see new Wi-Fi 6E chipsets from several companies, and a variety of new Wi-Fi 6E smartphones, PCs and laptops in the first quarter of 2021 followed by TVs and VR product announcements midyear.”
With standards for Wi-Fi 6E now incorporated into Wi-Fi Certified 6, the Wi-Fi Alliance hopes to spur that process along by ensuring new 6E devices stay secure and fully interoperable, regardless of region or manufacturer.
“Consumers take it on faith that if you go buy a Wi-Fi device, it’s going to connect to your router,” said Kevin Robinson, a Wi-Fi Alliance spokesperson. “The reason that is in fact the case is because of Wi-Fi Certified. The industry puts a lot of value in getting devices through that testing so that the end experience is that everything works together.”
In addition to interoperability, Wi-Fi Certified focuses on standardizing security protocols. For instance, with Wi-Fi 6E, devices will be required to support the latest protocol, WPA3, which promises better defense against attempts to brute force your network’s password, among other improvements.