While the market is still struggling to adopt the Wi-Fi 6 standard, manufacturers are already fighting to offer devices compatible with an even newer standard, Wi-Fi 6E. We evaluate all these standards and their features, advantages and differences that should be known.
Wi-Fi 6 reached the end of its standard in early 2021. It has since become a selling point for internet operators and even wireless access point manufacturers. The mention is tempting, for example, with theoretical speeds exceeding the regular gigabit Ethernet port.
However, this standard has already begun to replace its first evolution, Wi-Fi 6E. This new iteration has the main advantage of using a hitherto obsolete frequency band. But it doesn’t bring a big revolution in speeds very close to Wi-Fi 6.
What does Wi-Fi 6 bring to our digital uses? Should you invest in a computer that complies with these standards? In fact, we explain everything to you in this file, which will complete our testing of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E devices. Feel free to explore the best routers and PC cards to take advantage of this standard.
Wi-Fi 6E: a bit of history
We’re not going to remake the entire history of Wi-Fi and its various iterations here. We already have a file that summarizes everything you need to know about the wireless network and its speeds. Here we will instead focus on Wi-Fi 6 and its evolution. However, it’s worth taking a quick look at Wi-Fi 5 to fully understand the benefits of the new standards we’ll talk about here.
Wi-Fi 5 in Europe had the 60 MHz band around 2.4 GHz and two bands of 455 MHz around 5 GHz in total. While this bandwidth is pretty vague to ordinary mortals, it somehow represents the available space for your Wi-Fi network.
These different bands and the technologies used allow Wi-Fi 5 to deliver real speeds of around 800Mbps in good conditions on a given machine. At a network scale, we can theoretically achieve almost 10 Gbps cumulatively with the latest standards and high-performance devices.
The problem is that these frequency bands have evolved little since the inception of Wi-Fi. In fact, with the development of the Internet and new technologies, it was necessary to find ways to get better performance in Wi-Fi. Here comes Wi-Fi -Fi 6 .
Wi-Fi 6 is a necessary evolution
With the exponential development of connected things, our old internet boxes and the Wi-Fi 5 that equips them are struggling to provide a quality network. This is even more true in dense environments such as buildings where all networks must coexist and share different frequency bands that are already in high demand.
That’s why Wi-Fi 6 was created. Its main purpose is to improve performance at the scale of a network. For this, various technical choices have been made to achieve better performance while still using the same frequency bands as those used in Wi-Fi 5. :
- OFDMA : a modulation technique that makes it possible to combine channels to transmit data to different devices at the same time. Simply put, it’s as if we could deliver several customers at once with a single truck, while Wi-Fi 5 requires one truck per customer. OFDMA is particularly interesting in busy environments and for managed uses such as the web. scanning.
- MU-MIMO : Already available on Wi-Fi 5 (but now works in both directions), MU-MIMO allows the router to communicate with several devices at once. Going back to our truck example, we can use several trucks circulating in parallel to deliver more goods. This technique also works perfectly with a single client, making it possible to significantly increase the speed of a machine with large bandwidth requirements, for example, for video playback or streaming.
- 160MHz channels : The generalization of channels with a width of 160 MHz on compatible devices makes it possible to logically increase the flow and delay for the latter. It’s like having a wider pipe, so more data flow and faster.
- 1024-QAM : Instead of 256-QAM, a modulation scheme that makes sense for high-bandwidth demanding uses, thus offering the possibility to transmit more data in the same bandwidth.
Also watch out for the arrival of TWT. Target Wake Time this allows access points to tell customers when to sleep and wake up. This primarily drains the battery of devices (especially connected objects) and also frees up different frequency bands when there is no need to use them.
Wi-Fi 6 also BSS Painting. The idea is to “color” the transmitted data using a unique identifier to help each access point find its young in busy environments such as buildings. We also find beamforming It has the role of optimizing the path of waves, especially to improve the range and efficiency of transmission.
The main purpose of all these technical improvements is to optimize the historic Wi-Fi frequency bands and make them even more reliable. The results are clear: speed increases by about 300% and latency decreases by 75% at a network scale. . On the other hand, at a single machine scale, the gains are less significant with an improved efficiency of around 40%.
Concretely, with a good access point and a suitable client machine, we can expect to achieve a real throughput of 1 to 1.5 Gbps. Then we easily surpass the performance of the Gigabit Ethernet ports that equip most devices.
Beyond the improvement in performance, Wi-Fi 6 brings interesting new features in terms of security with the arrival of WPA3. For the rest, it continues to use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and bandwidths that are the same as found on Wi-Fi 5. And that’s where Wi-Fi 6E comes into play. !
What are the differences between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E?
Wi-Fi 6E is no different from Wi-Fi 6. Indeed, it is exactly the same standard and both use the same technologies. The only difference lies in the frequency band used, as Wi-Fi 6E makes it possible to use the 6 GHz band where we were previously limited to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
This new band has a special advantage: It was not used by Wi-Fi networks before, so there is no congestion problem like the regular 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. It’s as if a new path has been created parallel to the others and accessible only to the newest vehicles.
Best of all, this lane is more than twice as wide as the historic lanes. This leaves twice as much room in theory for our networks and data to properly roam. Taking our road as an example, it’s as if it has more traffic lanes as well as making use of a dedicated road.
However, European regulations do not allow the use of the full spectrum expected in Wi-Fi 6E. If 1200 MHz of bandwidth is available for channels in the United States, however, we have to settle for 500 MHz, which doesn’t really allow us to revolutionize the raw speeds of our machines.
Currently, Wi-Fi 6E compatible devices therefore do not make a tangible revolution in uses and performance. In testing by our colleagues and ourselves, the raw speed increases slightly compared to Wi-Fi 6, but this does not change much in practice. In the idea and in perfect conditions, some devices still manage to easily reach speeds of 1.8 Gb / s, which is enough to tickle the performance of the 2.5 Gb / s Ethernet port.
However, the 6 GHz band has not only advantages, because with the increase in frequency, the usual range problems arise. Indeed, the higher the frequency of the waves, the more difficult it is for them to pass through walls and other structures of this type. Therefore, performance is quickly affected.
Finally, like Wi-Fi 6, this new “E” version doesn’t seem to aim to deliver outstanding raw performance. We are re-evolving to relieve existing tapes and improve performance and reliability across the network. All this to guarantee the flawless operation of networks despite the explosion in the number of connected devices.
Which devices are Wi-Fi 6E compatible?
By the end of 2022, the overwhelming majority of mobile devices, computers and tablets are at least compatible with Wi-Fi 6. Please note that this does not mean they are compatible and not compatible with the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard. It probably never will, unless they replace the Wi-Fi chips.
Among smartphone manufacturers, Samsung is ahead due to the fact that the S21 Ultra, released in 2021, is already compatible with Wi-Fi 6E. Since then, other models have followed. Without further ado, we can mention the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy Z Fold 4, as well as the Xiaomi Mi 11, Xiaomi 12 Pro or Asus Rog Phone 6 Pro and Zenfone 9. On the laptop. On the side, the latest models conform to the standard from the middle to the top of the range. This is particularly true with Acer’s Swift 5, for example.
If you are using Wi-Fi on a desktop computer, it will be even easier to take advantage of the 6E standard. Indeed, Wi-Fi cards equipped with the Intel AX210 chip can be found, for example, on Amazon for around fifty euros. This is the easiest way to take advantage of the 6 GHz band.
Currently, all carriers except SFR offer a box that can broadcast a Wi-Fi 6E network. If you don’t want to depend on your carrier for this, you still have the option to equip yourself with a Wi-Fi router or a Wi-Fi Mesh kit.
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