Last year, the first major products rolled out with the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6. But not long after, the Wi-Fi Alliance moved forward with the development of an even newer version, Wi-Fi 6E.
The FCC voted last April to approve the use of 1,200 Megahertz of spectrum for unlicensed use, which will be filled by Wi-Fi 6E. Several other countries, including the UK, European Union, Chile, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates, have opened spectrum for similar purposes, while several other countries, including Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, and Jordan, are in the process of doing so.
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000, a gaming router released in December, became the first-ever router to support Wi-Fi 6E transmissions, although it’s been generally understood that more such products will be arriving on the market throughout 2021.
Now, ahead of next week’s International CES, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that “certification for Wi-Fi 6E is now available to deliver interoperability for devices operating in the 6 GHz spectrum.” Current devices operate using 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Most upgrades to Wi-Fi, however, don’t entail the opening of new swathes of spectrum.
Several companies, including Broadcom, Intel, MaxLinear, MediaTek, ON Semiconductor, and Qualcomm, are on board with Wi-Fi 6E. And per The Verge, many router devices compatible with the technology are likely to be shown at CES, and that due to the Snapdragon 888 processor, many Android phones being brought out by different manufacturers in 2021 will offer support for the new Wi-Fi standard.
“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 6 GHz by 2022,” 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.”
The Alliance has also released an animation showing how the new technology works, with a caption that states that “6 GHz unlicensed spectrum presents tremendous opportunity for Wi-Fi innovation, and Wi-Fi Alliance is rapidly delivering its benefits with Wi-Fi 6E.”
“Worldwide interoperability for Wi-Fi 6E devices promotes rapid adoption and innovation in 6 GHz,” Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance, said. “Users will soon experience unprecedented Wi-Fi that significantly improves applications and delivers new use cases that will change their connected experiences.”
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.