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Wi-Fi industry begins certifying Wi-Fi 6E devices

The newly opened band represents the biggest upgrade to Wi-Fi in decades

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Photo (c) Andriy Onufriyenko - Getty Images
The Wi-Fi Alliance on Thursday announced that it’s begun certifying Wi-Fi 6E devices. The first devices equipped to support the newly opened 6GHz band are likely to be announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). 

The additional bandwidth will make many of this year’s new phones, laptops, and other devices faster and more reliable. The IDC research group says the first devices with support for the new band will hit the market in the first quarter of this year; TVs and VR devices with 6E support are expected to arrive by the middle of 2021.

"Wi-Fi 6E will see rapid adoption in 2021 with more than 338 million devices entering the market, and nearly 20 percent of all Wi-Fi 6 device shipments supporting 6GHz by 2022," said Phil Solis, research director at IDC. "This year, we expect to see new Wi-Fi 6E chipsets from several companies, and a variety of new Wi-Fi 6E smartphones, PCs and laptops in the first quarter of 2021 followed by TVs and VR product announcements midyear."

CES 2021 is set to begin on January 11, and companies are expected to showcase the first devices with Wi-Fi 6E support over the next week. Samsung is likely to be one of the first phone makers to release devices with support for the faster band.

"As a leading innovator of mobile experiences, we were among the very first to offer Wi-Fi Certified 6 products," said JM Choi, vice president and head of group for Convergence R&D Group, Samsung Electronics. "[We] look forward to introducing new Galaxy devices able to take advantage of the increased speeds, reduced latency and expanded bandwidth that comes with connecting to frequencies in the 6GHz band very soon."

Biggest upgrade in 20 years

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last spring to open up the 6GHz Wi-Fi spectrum to consumers. The agency said its goal was to give internet users access to Wi-Fi that is more stable and two times faster than the current standard.

“In making broad swaths of the 6GHz spectrum available for unlicensed use, the FCC envisions new innovative technologies and services that will deliver new devices and applications to American consumers and advance the Commission’s goal of making broadband connectivity available to all Americans,” the agency in April 2020.  

The decision to open up a plot of spectrum in the 6GHz band represents the biggest upgrade to Wi-Fi in nearly two decades. 

“Wi-Fi 6E is the best thing to happen to Wi-Fi since its inception. Wi-Fi 6E will allow enough spectrum for many neighbors’ overlapping Wi-Fi streams to broadcast simultaneously without interfering with each other. For most households this means more reliable and higher capacity connectivity without wires,” Tuncay Cil, Chief Strategy Officer at industry group ASSIA, said in a statement.

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