By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
The Wi-Fi Alliance – the global industry organisation and network of companies that brings you Wi-Fi – has as of today launched their certification program for Wi-Fi 6E. This means that Wi-Fi 6E – the new standard for Wi-Fi operating in the 6 GHz – is now ready for mass market adoption.
On April 23, 2020 the FCC voted unanimously in favour of releasing the full 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi and since then the Wi-Fi industry – as well as spectrum regulators across the world – have been working tirelessly to bring 6 GHz Wi-Fi to market. As of today mass-market proliferation of 6 GHz Wi-Fi just got one giant step closer: The Wi-Fi Alliance today launched its Wi-Fi 6E certification program in advance of what we believe will be a slew of Wi-Fi 6E-related announcement at this year’s virtual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event.
The purpose of the certification program is – of course – to make sure that Wi-Fi 6E devices and network nodes (access points) from multiple vendors interoperate reliably, securely, and according to the Wi-Fi 6E standard, the Wi-Fi Alliance said in their press release posted here. Also included in the new Wi-Fi 6E certification program is enhanced and more robust security according to the new and improved over-the-air Wi-Fi encryption protocol, WPA3™.
More specifically, the Wi-Fi Alliance points out that Wi-Fi 6E in fact is an extension of the current Wi-Fi 6 standard into the new 6 GHz bands, hence the ‘E’ designation. The main features of Wi-Fi 6E are the same as in Wi-Fi 6: OFDMA, MU-MIMO, TWT (Target Wake Time), and more. The big – or frankly huge – difference is that now up to seven super wide 160 MHz channels are available within the 6 GHz band. Tests by leading Wi-Fi technology vendors demonstrate that Wi-Fi 6E delivers end-user Wi-Fi data rates up to four times faster than current speeds.
The Wi-Fi Alliance says it expects Wi-Fi 6E to deliver high-bandwidth and low-latency connectivity to such use cases as unified communications, holographic video, AR/VR, industrial IoT, telecommuting, telepresence, and distance learning. Reference devices from Broadcom, Intel, MaxLinear, MediaTek, Qualcomm, and Quantenna (ON Semiconductor) will form part of the interoperability test bed used for the certification, the Wi-Fi Alliance says.
Global momentum for 6 GHz Wi-Fi picks up steam
Thus far the USA, South Korea, and the Republic of Chile have released the full 1.2 GHz of spectrum within the 6 GHz band (up to 7.2 GHz). Other countries – including Brazil and other nations in South and Central America – are expected to follow the USA’s lead later this year.
The European Commission is expected to finalise the EU’s release of 480 MHz of 6 GHz spectrum to Wi-Fi in the second quarter of this year (lower band only). The UK released the lower 500 MHz of the 6 GHz band in July of last year. Only last week the United Arab Emirates became the first country in the Middle East region to release 500 MHz of new spectrum to Wi-Fi.