By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Wi-Fi Alliance announced today that the official name of Wi-Fi 6 in the 6 GHz band will be ‘Wi-Fi 6E’, where the ‘E’ stands for ‘extended’ as in Wi-Fi 6 ‘extended into the 6 GHz band’. The announcement comes as the consumer electronics industry prepares for its yearly trade show behemoth in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As the FCC’s release of the huge 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi creeps ever closer, any suspense as to what the naming convention for Wi-Fi in the new band might be was finally relieved today. The Wi-Fi Alliance has decided to afford the name ‘Wi-Fi 6E’ to Wi-Fi operating in the 6 GHz band. The ‘E’ indicates an ‘extension’ of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6 GHz band, the Wi-Fi Alliance said in their press release here.
The announcement comes ahead of any final 6 GHz ruling by the FCC. The jury is still out on the details of what 6 GHz Wi-Fi rules in the end will be adopted with specifically the issue of interference mitigation using AFC looming large. A final ruling by the FCC could come as soon as this month, some sources say. Sources also say that the extent to which AFC may be mandated will determine the technical and commercial viability of many indoor 6 GHz Wi-Fi use cases.
The Wi-Fi Alliance says the 6 GHz band (or more accurately, parts of it) “may soon be made available around the world” pointing out that 6 GHz Wi-Fi of course is not only a US phenomenon. The European Union appears well on track to making a 500 MHz-wide swath of frequencies in the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use. Once the dominoes start to fall and the economies of scale become obvious, other countries and regions could follow in short order.
“The 6 GHz band will perhaps be the most disruptive boon for Wi-Fi users in the last twenty years. This swath of spectrum, when coupled with Wi-Fi, will power new consumer experiences on smartphones, AR/VR devices and wearables we haven’t even yet invented. The Wi-Fi 6E brand for 6 GHz Wi-Fi will let consumers know that their Wi-Fi experience is about to get even better,” says Vijay Nagarajan, VP Mobile Connectivity at Broadcom, in a comment on the new naming scheme.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has however – at least for now – decided not to create a new logo for Wi-Fi 6E and appears to expect the existing Wi-Fi 6 logo and icon to be used also in the case of Wi-Fi 6E. Sources knowledgable on the matter point out that Wi-Fi Alliance logos and icons are guidelines only, and that nothing precludes for example smartphone manufacturers to indicate Wi-Fi 6E operation on smartphone screens with icons of their own design.
At Wi-Fi NOW we believe that 6 GHz Wi-Fi constitutes a paradigm shift not just for Wi-Fi but for all of wireless because of the sheer size of the band coupled with the low cost and very high performance of Wi-Fi 6 technology. Read more about that here.