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Game On for Wi-Fi 6E

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
The FCC posted this announcement to Twitter about an hour ago
"The FCC has adopted new rules for the 6 GHz band, unleashing 1,200 megahertz to boost #WiFi and other unlicensed uses to usher in faster, more efficient broadband connections for the American people. "

Cnet had the first article up and it didn't take long for Wi-Fi companies to start sending out email blasts.

From Broadcom:

The following quote can be attributed to Vijay Nagarajan, Vice President of Marketing for the Wireless Communications and Connectivity Division at Broadcom: “Today’s vote on Chairman Ajit Pai’s momentous proposal to designate 1,200 MHz of spectrum for unlicensed wireless use such as Wi-Fi in the 6 GHz band is a definitive moment in US wireless history. It is also a manifestation of the many years of hard work led by Broadcom and industry partners. At Broadcom, we are thankful for the Chairman and his fellow Commissioners’ leadership in pushing forward a perfectly balanced proposal designed to benefit all Americans. This is the most substantive decision any Commission has made on unlicensed spectrum in almost 25 years and one that will empower our wireless experiences for the next 20 years.”

From Commscope
Initial CommScope statement:
“CommScope commends Chairman Pai and the FCC for their action making the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed operation. Along with initiatives such as CBRS and C-Band, the Commission’s actions are providing the essential mid-band spectrum (licensed, unlicensed, and shared) that enable the U.S. to lead the transition into the 5G era. This decisive move by the FCC will give Wi-Fi and other unlicensed services the capacity and capability to drive new and innovative applications.” – Morgan Kurk, Chief Technology Officer, CommScope

RUCKUS/Carrier Wi-Fi: “With its adjacency to 5 GHz, greater availability of wider channel sizes, and accessibility to clear spectrum, the advent of Wi-Fi 6E is a watershed moment for the wireless industry. Wi-Fi 6E access points can deliver an improved mobility experience while supporting more concurrent Wi-Fi users in dense and congested environments. Making the 6 GHz band available for Wi-Fi with further enable a wider range of enterprise use cases, including ultra-high-definition live video streaming and mobile AR/VR applications.” – Bart Giordano, senior vice president, Venue and Campus Networks, CommScope.

Home/CPE Wi-Fi: “The Commission’s action is particularly timely given the increasing demands on residential Wi-Fi. Due to COVID-19, many Americans are now working and learning from home. We and our service provider partners have recently observed dramatic increases in residential broadband traffic, most of which is ultimately delivered over a Wi-Fi connection.” – Ken Haase, vice president, Global Telco Broadband Devices, Home Networks Business Segment, CommScope

Home/CPE Wi-Fi: “We would like to commend Chairman Pai and the FCC for this allocation of new spectrum for Wi-Fi. This spectrum accelerates Wi-Fi 6 efficiencies, allowing a 6E platform to deliver high availability and deterministic services over unlicensed bandwidth immediately for every citizen of the U.S. In the home, these easily accessible high bandwidth and low latency services will help power the U.S. economy with high speed and low latency connectivity -- enabling enhanced remote work capability, entertainment, health management and tele-education. In these extreme times of COVID-19 lockdowns, we are seeing the increasing importance of always on high-bandwidth, reliable and accessible connectivity. This new spectrum will drive a Wi-Fi platform that spurs innovation in new, high value solutions for the wireless home and economy.” – Charles Cheevers,Chief Technology Officer, Home Networks Business Segment, CommScope

Comsearch: “6 GHz can help meet the Wi-Fi spectrum shortage by providing contiguous spectrum blocks to accommodate 14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels. We look forward to leveraging our decades of spectrum management experience including TV whitespace (TVWS) and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in developing the Automatic Frequency Coordination (AFC) system to ensure protection of incumbents now that 6 GHz has been made available for unlicensed use.” – Mark Gibson, director of Business Development, CommScope

This should put the nail in the coffin for Wi-Fi 6 router sales. Unless you really, really just have to have a Wi-Fi 6 router now, you really should spend as little as possible.

You should expect the first consumer 6E routers in time for this year's holiday buying season, assuming production isn't sidelined by Covid-19 supply line problems.

6E devices may take a bit longer. Is everyone ready to buy a new smartphone already?
 
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det721

Very Senior Member
So this effectively makes all current AX routers soon to be outdated. Early adopters lose on this one. Such as life. o_O
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I guess the local ISP's are jumping on the band wagon. Verizon Fios Home Router with 4 LAN ports and 1 USB port. Can you use the USB as a NAS?
 

digits n bits

Regular Contributor
Well if the rollout of WiFi 6e clients are anything like the WiFi6 clients we’ll be hearing the same song and dance of “don’t buy a wifi6E enabled router because the 6e clients aren’t available” routine for a couple of years.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@Kal-EL I don't believe that. There is a lot of work to be done and demonstrated on the WiFi6E front before that happens. :)

I'm not saying it won't eventually. But until they're proven better, the 'outdated' part is purely marketing right now. :)
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Well if the rollout of WiFi 6e clients are anything like the WiFi6 clients we’ll be hearing the same song and dance of “don’t buy a wifi6E enabled router because the 6e clients aren’t available” routine for a couple of years.
Actually, that's not the case. If you buy a 6E router, it will also handle AX/6 devices. But a Wi-Fi 6 router won't provide 6E channels when those devices appear.

In other words, for those of you who like to "future proof", a 6E router is a better choice. But then Wi-Fi 7 (11be) will be along a few years later.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
The upgrade of existing AX products it not gonna happen, generally requires new hardware.

(edited for context following thread merge).
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The issue I see already with this is that as 'open spectrum' and not specifically 'wifi spectrum' cellular will be causing interference to these routers soon.

Why don't they just give to a single category of devices rather than a free for all?

With the mandatory requirement that the devices able to connect to 6E will all be brand new, fully support the newest standards and not need to fall back to legacy (i.e. 'slow') mode to work properly, I can see it being a very fast standard, for high throughput and lowest latency. When the stars line up.

However, being an unlicensed spectrum, there is nothing barring future interference from other non-wifi sources (the microwave interference of the future...).
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
6E devices may take a bit longer. Is everyone ready to buy a new smartphone already?
Even AX clients are still hard to find... Earlier this week I was shopping for a new laptop, as my 5 years old Thinkpad Yoga 15 started being unstable (random freezes/reboots while working on it). Finding one that met my requirements proved to be difficult, as a lot of products still ship with 802.11AC clients. And I'm not talking about entry-level products here, my target budget was 1000$-1500$ CAD... Lots of AC products being sold in that price bracket.

Thankfully I found one with an AX client, and hopefully not BIOS-locked, so I might be able to upgrade it to 6e once Intel ships a client (provided the AMD CPU isn't an obstacle).

So nevermind seeing Wifi 6E clients, the Wifi 6 rollout is still very slow. My Huawei P30, which was a 2019 flagship, is "only" AC (although they do support 160 MHz - I was able to flirt with gigabit performance when I benchmarked things). I will be getting my very first AX client next week.

And since AX requires multiple clients to start bringing concrete gains...
 
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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
One thing for 6E router buyers to keep in mind when they become available; you're probably going to want a tri-band router.
In this case, it will truly be a tri-band solution, vs. today's pseudo tri-band routers that split low and high 5 GHz channels.

6 GHz radio SoCs support the current 5 GHz channels as well as the new 6 GHz. But when operated in that mode, the radio will have to support both and there goes the advantage of 6 GHz. Only routers/APs with dedicated 6 GHz radios will provide the full intended benefit of "no legacy devices allowed" 6E.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Something other than Intel?
No, it's probably Intel (although the CPU is a Ryzen 5 4500U). I'll know for sure when it arrives next week, there is very little technical info available right now since this is a completely new model. But the downloadable drivers for this model (it covers multiple SKUs) are Realtek and Intel. I know that some SKUs of that model come with an AC client, probably the Realtek one.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
One thing for 6E router buyers to keep in mind when they become available; you're probably going to want a tri-band router.
In this case, it will truly be a tri-band solution, vs. today's pseudo tri-band routers that split low and high 5 GHz channels.

6 GHz radio SoCs support the current 5 GHz channels as well as the new 6 GHz. But when operated in that mode, the radio will have to support both and there goes the advantage of 6 GHz. Only routers/APs with dedicated 6 GHz radios will provide the full intended benefit of "no legacy devices allowed" 6E.
Like how current tri-band routers tend to have the first radio handle UNII-1 channels, and the second one handle UNII-3 channels.
 

Draghmar

Occasional Visitor
No, it's probably Intel (although the CPU is a Ryzen 5 4500U). I'll know for sure when it arrives next week [...]
Could you share what exactly you've bought? I'm just genuine interested.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
A nice choice at a good price! I am excited about what will be available for me in the next few months too. I will be buying Lenovo too, for sure.
 

Razor512

Senior Member
This makes me wonder if any of the current hardware is capable of using the 6GHz band at the hardware level, especially considering that many are not using hardware filters that specifically lock them out of anything above 5.95GHz,

It just makes me wonder what kind of backlash that would take place if something like an AP were to be released that supports the band, but ends up using the same RF front end and SOC as a previous router.

It may also need companies to not rely on planned obsolescence in this case, or it could possibly share the same fate as 802.11ad.

If the hardware can handle it, device makers should push out firmware updates to unlock it. On dual band routers with only a single 5Ghz radio, it will likely not bet much use even if unlocked, as to use the 6GHz band, would require users to force all of their otherwise 802.11ac devices to use the 2.4GHz band, but the capability of the 6GHz band will allow for a larger market for more devices to use it.

Then we may see subsequent APs get released with 3 radios, thus allowing the 6GHz band to have a dedicated radio. This will avoid the 802.11ad issue where for the most part, no company wanted to add 60GHz support because no APs were widely available for it, and no one wanted to push out more 60GHz band support on their APs because no client devices were supporting it.
 

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