By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
It is nothing less than the crowning achievement: After more than three years of intense Wi-Fi industry work on opening up the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi and developing products for it, Samsung yesterday released the world’s first Wi-Fi 6E smartphone in the form of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The new phone’s Wi-Fi 6E connectivity is – of course – powered by technology from Broadcom.
Yesterday at CES, Samsung – the world’s number one smartphone maker by volume – released the world’s first Wi-Fi 6E-capable smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra will be available in the US and elsewhere starting January 29th, 2021 and is available for pre-order as of today. The phone’s Wi-Fi capabilities are powered by the Broadcom BCM4389 chipset platform.
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The launch was – let’s face it – widely rumoured and hence expected, but this should not detract from the significance of the achievement. The introduction of 6 GHz Wi-Fi – including support for the full 1.2 GHz of pristine 6 GHz band – is a landmark historical event not just for Wi-Fi but for tech in general. We’re going to stick our necks out and say that from initial idea to physical product no major connectivity technology has ever come to fruition faster than Wi-Fi 6E.
And the new Samsung phone is (as is Wi-Fi 6E technology in general) no small feat of tech wizardry and nothing less than a leap forward for twenty-first century connectivity. With seven Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios – including support for two streams of Wi-Fi 6E – the phone delivers well over 2 Gbps of peak speed at a few milliseconds of latency across a staggering bandwidth that includes operating frequencies of 2.4 GHz and from 5.1 GHz to 7.125 GHz. The phone of course includes all the Wi-Fi 6E flagship features: 160 MHz channels, OFDMA, and MU-MIMO.
With the release of the Samsung phone and Intel’s new vPro laptop platform supporting Wi-Fi 6E as well as with the debut of plenty of new Wi-Fi 6E-capable routers, CES 2021 is proof that the Wi-Fi industry has managed to pull of something remarkable: An evolutionary double-leap from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E in record time and with exceptional results.
Yes, it will still take a while before Wi-Fi 6E devices and network nodes proliferate into the mass market. But the Wi-Fi 6E era is now well underway.