Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of the sixth-generation Wi-Fi standard or the Wi-Fi 6. Take note that both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are the marketing terms set by the Wi-Fi Alliance to represent the specific IEEE 802.11ax of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The specific extended version was introduced in 2020 and includes the addition of the 6 GHz frequency band on top of the 2.4 GHz band and 5 GHz band. This article lists and discusses the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of Wi-Fi 6E.
Pros: Notable Advantages of Wi-Fi 6E
The extended sixth-generation Wi-Fi standard has some advantages over the original standard and more notable benefits over older Wi-Fi standards. Devices equipped with this standard for wireless local area networking can utilize either one of the three frequency bands. The addition of the newer 6 GHz band provides most of the advantages of this standard and makes it ideal for data-intensive use cases such as online video gaming and video conferencing. The following are the specific advantages:
1. Higher Maximum Link Rate
A notable upgrade to the Wi-Fi 6 standard is that it allows a maximum link rate of 574 Mbps to 9608 Mbps. This is a notable improvement over the 433 Mbps to 6933 Mbps link rate of Wi-Fi 5 and the 72 Mbps to 600 Mbps of Wi-Fi 4. The link rate is the maximum speed at which data can be transferred between a wireless device and a wireless access point or router. A higher rate means a faster wireless local area network and a better overall network experience.
2. Advantages of 6 GHz Band
What sets Wi-Fi 6E apart from the original Wi-Fi 6 is the addition of the 6 GHz frequency band on top of the 2.4 GHz band and 5 GHz band. The original only has 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This newer band provides faster data transmission speed, wider bandwidth, and lower latency because it uses a higher electromagnetic frequency and a shorter wavelength to allow the faster movement of digital data between a compatible device and a compatible router.
3. Less Interference Congestion
It is worth mentioning that a compatible device can connect to either one of the three frequency bands of this Wi-Fi standard. The addition of the 6 GHz band means more concurrent connections with less network congestion and less interference from other communication devices. This translates to faster speeds and a more reliable connection. A triple frequency band also makes the standard ideal for dense environments such as offices and public spaces.
4. Better Network Technologies
Another advantage of Wi-Fi 6E is the use of novel network technologies to improve local area network performance. These include Multiple MIMO and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access or OFDMA that divide the spectrum into smaller units and serve multiple users simultaneously. This allows a certified router to accommodate more devices on the same network without affecting the quality of network speed and overall LAN performance.
5. Newer and Improved Security
This extended sixth-generation Wi-Fi standard requires Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 or WPA3. This is the latest security protocol for wireless local area networks that enhances the encryption and authentication of wireless connections, thereby making them less susceptible to hacking and network snooping. It also has 128-bit encryption in Personal mode and 192-bit encryption in Enterprise mode while also providing protection against weak passwords.
Cons: Key Disadvantages of Wi-Fi 6E
Not all consumer electronic devices such as personal computers and smartphones produced in 2020 and earlier can utilize the 6 GHz frequency band. These devices can still connect to a Wi-Fi 6E router but they would not be able to maximize its advantages such as a higher maximum link rate and better data transmission speed. It is also worth highlighting the fact that devices that are compatible with Wi-Fi 6E only became more prominent starting around 2021 and 2022. The following are the specific disadvantages:
1. Disadvantage of 6 GHz Band
Remember that the 6 GHz frequency band provides faster data transfer speeds, better bandwidth, and lower network latency than the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band. However, when it comes to range or signal propagation, it is more limited. Higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths. Electromagnetic radiation signals with shorter wavelengths have a shorter travel propagation and tend to have a hard time going through physical obstructions such as concrete walls.
2. Higher Power Consumption
Another disadvantage of Wi-Fi 6E is its higher power requirement. This is especially true when utilizing the 6 GHz frequency band. A compatible smartphone would have a shorter battery life if connected to a 6 GHz Wi-Fi network. A certified wireless LAN router would also consume more electricity broadcasting channels within the same frequency. Furthermore, in several instances, the higher power draw can also result in some heating issues and even overheating.
3. Interference From Other Devices
It is important to note that other wireless communication standards and technologies such as Bluetooth and ZigBee use frequencies within the 2.4 GHz territory. Mobile or cellular networks such as Sub-6 GHz 5G and mmWave 5G use different sets of higher designated frequencies within the microwave domain. The 6 GHz frequency band is still susceptible to electromagnetic or signal interference from radar systems or satellite communication devices.
4. Higher Costs From Upgrades
Another important consideration when planning to reap the benefits or advantages of Wi-Fi 6E is the needed hardware upgrades. A household or an office would need to purchase a new and capable router and new communication devices. Personal computers, smartphones, and workstations that can connect to a 6 GHz tend to be more expensive than those certified for older Wi-Fi standards. This soon will change following the expansion of Wi-Fi 7.
5. Notable Compatibility Issues
A device that uses an older Wi-Fi standard can still connect to a router certified and equipped with an extended sixth-generation Wi-Fi standard but it would not be able to utilize the 6 GHz frequency band and other advantages. Some certified and equipped routers might also not support advanced features such as WPA3 mixed mode security and MU-MIMO and OFDMA despite being capable of broadcasting the 6 GHz frequency band.
In A Nutshell: Pros and Cons of Wi-Fi 6E
The aforementioned pros and cons of Wi-Fi 6E make it a superior standard to the original sixth-generation standard and other older standards. However, to maximize its advantages, a user must need to use a compatible device. The 6 GHz frequency band is indeed faster and the higher maximum link rate provides better theoretical network performance but a fast internet plan and the bandwidth of the local area network should also be considered.