How does WiFi 6E compare to WiFi 6? Is it important? What are main differences between the two standards? Here’s what you need to know…

WiFi isn’t the sexiest topic in the world but it is something that billions of people use every single day. First launched in the late-1990s, WiFi, in the space of two decades has gone to completely change the world.

The first ever commercially available WiFi standard, the 802.11 wireless networking standard, was initially developed in 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Since then, it has been through MANY updates with myriad improvements.

The latest WiFi standard, WiFi 6, is now here and is starting to appear inside smartphones, alongside another, slightly more performance-focussed variant called WiFi 6E which promises even faster, more consistent performance.

Both the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro will leverage the new WiFi 6 standard, with the base models getting WiFi 6 and the iPhone 15 Pro / Pro Max models using WiFi 6E.

So which is the better option – WiFi 6 or WiFi 6E? Here’s everything you need to know…

WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6E: What’s The Difference?

WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6EPin

WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are both based on the 802.11ax wireless standard, but they differ in the frequency bands they operate on and the features they offer.

Here is a comparison of the main differences between WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E:

Frequency Bands:

  • WiFi 6: It operates in the existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands.
  • WiFi 6E: In addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, it also operates in the newly opened 6 GHz frequency band.

Available Channels and Bandwidth:

  • WiFi 6: In the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, the availability of channels and bandwidth is limited due to existing devices and technologies sharing the spectrum. This can lead to congestion and reduced performance in crowded areas.
  • WiFi 6E: The 6 GHz band provides additional channels and more bandwidth, which reduces network congestion and improves performance. The 6 GHz band offers up to 1,200 MHz of spectrum, divided into fourteen 80 MHz channels or seven 160 MHz channels. This additional capacity allows for faster data rates and lower latency in WiFi 6E devices.

Device Support:

  • WiFi 6: Many devices, including smartphones, laptops, routers, and IoT devices, already support WiFi 6.
  • WiFi 6E: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, only a limited number of devices and routers support WiFi 6E. However, support for WiFi 6E is expected to grow as more manufacturers adopt the technology.

Interference and Signal Quality:

  • WiFi 6: As it operates in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, it may face interference from other devices using the same bands, such as older WiFi standards, Bluetooth devices, and microwaves.
  • WiFi 6E: The 6 GHz band is less crowded, which means less interference and better signal quality. This can result in improved performance and reliability for WiFi 6E devices.

Range and Coverage:

  • WiFi 6: Both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands offer good coverage, with 2.4 GHz having slightly better range but lower data rates than the 5 GHz band.
  • WiFi 6E: The 6 GHz band typically has a shorter range than the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands due to its higher frequency. However, WiFi 6E devices can still use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for extended coverage.

What Comes Next?

After WiFi 6, the next major iteration of the wireless standard will be WiFi 7 and, unlike WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E, WiFi 7 will be a pretty significant overhaul, bringing theoretical download speeds of up to 40Gbps.

Here’s an extract from our detailed overview of WiFi 7:

If your au fait with WiFi trends, you’ll know that WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are only just starting to make inroads in homes and workplaces around the globe. WiFi 6 is great too, offering appreciable improvements over WiFi 5. But it isn’t THAT different from what came before. There are benefits, of course, but WiFi 6 was always an incremental update over WiFi 5, not a complete overhaul.

With WiFi 7, things couldn’t be more different. WiFi 7 will improve data rates, enable loads more connected devices, have lower latency, and it will be considerably faster than WiFi 6, promising theoretical speeds of up to 40Gbps – a truly astonishing number. But, again, this is its theoretical maximum speed. No one will get this kind of speed from WiFi 7 unless you’re on some kind of top-secret government skunkworks network.

WiFi 7 Explained: How It Works, Why It ROCKS…

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