The first products with Wi-Fi 6 have been rolling out over the course of 2020 after the new specification was introduced in 2019. But back in April, the FCC announced that the next version, Wi-Fi 6E could go forward, after the commission voted to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum available for unlicensed use, which Wi-Fi 6E will use. Also, the “Wi-Fi 6E” Certified designation will roll out beginning in 2021, the Wi-Fi Alliance said at the time.
This week came the news that the first Wi-Fi 6E product has received “equipment authorization” by the FCC.
According to Wi-Fi Now, the product is Broadcom’s BCM4389 client (smartphone) chipset. And you can expect to see the technology used in Apple and Samsung smartphones sooner rather than later.
“Broadcom has consistently been first (or close to first) with 6 GHz Wi-Fi announcements and product releases since the drive towards 6 GHz Wi-Fi began a couple of years ago,” Wi-Fi Now said. “And since Broadcom supplies Wi-Fi technology to device giants Apple and Samsung, the path towards releasing Wi-Fi 6E-capable Samsung Galaxy devices and Apple iPhones has now been cleared.”
“This module may only be marketed and sold to an OEM system integrator that has an agreement with the grantee and has been provided detailed instructions on installation conditions to ensure that the correct firmware is installed,” the FCC authorization says. “Host systems must be intended for indoor use only, outdoor applications are NOT allowed.”
This is, per Wi-Fi Now, the first Wi-Fi 6E device in the world to receive equipment authorization approval from the FCC.
The world’s first Wi-Fi 6E device, per Wi-Fi Now, was a format card developed by Intel, called the WiFi—6E AX210, that debuted quietly in November, while the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is expected to be the first smartphone to feature Wi-Fi 6E capability. And the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000, a gaming router, is the first Wi-Fi 6E-capable router, and is set for release later this month.
So what can consumers expect from Wi-Fi 6E?
“These new rules will usher in Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of Wi-Fi, and play a major role in the growth of the Internet of Things,” the FCC said following the approval of the spectrum, in its April 23 press release. “Wi-Fi 6 will be over two-and-a-half times faster than the current standard and will offer better performance for American consumers. Opening the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use will also increase the amount of spectrum available for Wi-Fi by nearly a factor of five and help improve rural connectivity.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.