Are you ready for 6GHz WiFi? By the end of 2020, you’ll be able to buy devices that support WiFi 6E, as this form of wireless fidelity (WiFi) is known. That’s because in April, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to open 1,200MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the 6GHz band. These airwaves aren’t available yet, but chip manufacturers are gearing up already. The first WiFi 6E products will be smartphones. Tablets and televisions will follow. Routers won’t be far behind.
To get the most out of 6GHz WiFi, every one of these products will need the right WiFi 6E antenna. But what is 6GHz Wi-Fi anyway? Is it really faster? For that matter, how does WiFi 6E compare to 5G? Are manufacturers making 6GHz WiFi devices? And who will provide WiFi 6E antennas for especially demanding applications? Let’s take a look.
What is 6GHz Wi-Fi?
6GHz WiFi is more than just a third WiFi band. For decades, there have been two WiFi bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz. 2.4GHz WiFi travels farther and 5GHz WiFi delivers data faster, but together both bands occupy just 400MHz of airspace. With another 1,200MHz of spectrum, WiFi can grow to four times its current size. With all this new real estate, the channels can be larger. Today, only two 160MHz channels could fit in the WiFi spectrum. With 6GHz WiFi, each channel is expected to reach 160MHz.
Yet WiFi 6E isn’t just a new band with bigger channels. Unlike some current WiFi channels, WiFi 6E channels won’t require overlapping signals. In fact, 6GHz WiFi has room for seven maximum-capacity WiFi streams to all broadcast simultaneously and without interfering with each other. Compare that to what’s happening today. Many consumers have trouble connecting to WiFi networks, and spectrum congestion is usually to blame. There are just too many competing signals to get through.
Is 6GHz Wi-Fi Faster Than 5GHz Wi-Fi?
Technically, the answer is no. That’s because 6GHz WiFi has the same theoretical speed (9.6 Gbps) as 5GHz Wi-Fi. This isn’t a speed you’ll see in real life, but the availability of airwaves makes a difference. With 5GHz WiFi, the signals usually aren’t as large as they could be. With 6GHz WiFi, smartphone connections are expected to reach 1 to 2 Gbps. These speeds could rival millimeter-wave 5G, which is often unavailable. Of course, your Internet speed and WiFi 6E antenna will also be factors with 6GHz WiFi.
Wi-Fi 6E vs. 5G
So, what about 5G? Fifth generation technology for cellular networks (5G) has been the next big thing for a while now. With regard to WiFi 6E, it’s important to understand that the FCC is making available 1,200MHz of spectrum rather than 1,200MHz of new WiFi spectrum. Other technologies could make use of these airwaves – and those technologies include 5G. There’s a precedent to consider here. When cell carriers wanted to augment their licensed spectrum before, they used unlicensed airwaves with LTE.
Will carriers allow 5G to overlap onto the 6GHz spectrum for WiFi? Probably. Will 5G dominate global connectivity so much that it will replace WiFi? Probably not. There’s enough room in the 6GHz band for both technologies. Moreover, many industrial and commercial sites are expected to use 6GHz in small cellular deployments – just like WiFi. Perhaps most importantly, the device manufacturers who are betting on 6GHz WiFi wouldn’t invest in a technology they didn’t think was going to last.
Who’s Making 6GHz WiFi Devices?
The companies that are making 6GHz Wi-Fi devices are names you’ll recognize. For example, Broadcom has announced a Wi-Fi 6E mobile chip. Intel is planning to ship its own chips in January 2021. Qualcom is also planning to support 6GHz Wi-Fi in its next-generation wireless products. Linksys and Netgear, two major router companies, are on-board with 6GH Wi-Fi, too. According to one estimate, manufacturers will ship over 300 million devices that support WiFi 6E in 2021.
Who Makes WiFi 6E Antennas?
Like other forms of wireless networking, 6 GHz WiFi needs antennas that can receive incoming signals and transmit outgoing signals on specific frequencies. MP Antenna, the exclusive developer and manufacturer of Multi-Polarized antennas for demanding applications such as WiFi, is developing 6GHz WiFi antennas that will improve signal penetration and connectivity in obstructed deployments while providing increased data throughput, enhanced voice clarity, and multi-path mitigation.
Are you ready to learn more? Contact MP Antenna and let us know you’d like us to know more about our WiFi 6E antennas and other Made in the USA wireless products.