The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), which is dedicated to enabling high-performance, interoperable Wi-Fi, says the 6 GHz band that could be opened up for unlicensed Wi-Fi use will provide more capacity than all the other Wi-Fi bands put together and support throughput speeds equivalent to 5G. According to Tiago Rodrigues, CEO at WBA, the use of Wi-Fi 6 network technology in the 6 GHz spectrum “represents a multi-generational shift in Wi-Fi services and the user experience.”
With several regulators in the U.S. and Europe considering the release of 6 GHz spectrum for unlicensed use, and the SoC giant Broadcom (which is pioneering the development of Wi-Fi 6E devices) forecasting 500 million Wi-Fi 6E compatible laptops and mobile devices within three years, this new technology could provide an important capacity boost for streaming video, among other things.
The WBA has been conducting trials designed to show the potential of Wi-Fi 6E and the readiness of the ecosystem needed to bring solutions to market. In the first trial phase, speeds of 2Gbps were achieved, comparable to 5G cellular services, plus consistent two-millisecond low-latency connections.
The WBA says Wi-Fi 6E will remove pain points currently caused by overcrowding on many Wi-Fi networks. Indeed, it is built for high performance in congested places like underground stations and the next trial phase, over the coming months, will include underground transport systems as well as in-home testing. Trial collaborators include CableLabs, SK Telecom and Transit Wireless.
Wi-Fi 6E is also viewed as a wireless solution in rural areas that 5G mobile networks cannot cover cost-effectively.
The enterprise trials conducted so far, in San Jose, California, used Wi-Fi 6E-capable mobile platforms and laptop equipment enabled by Broadcom and Intel. They showed 6E is suitable for industrial VR/AR applications as well as consumer services like mobile gaming.
“This trial is an important step in the process of effectively demonstrating the benefits that Wi-Fi networks can deliver in the 6GHz spectrum band,” the WBA says. “The Wi-Fi 6 standard and the 6GHz spectrum in combination can play a powerful role to deliver advanced mobile services to consumers, business and industry.”
Broadcom recently announced a broad portfolio of Wi-Fi 6E chips, with a target set for production later this year.
Eric Mclaughlin, Vice President Client Computing Group, General Manager Wireless Solutions Group at another chip provider, Intel Corporation, says, “Opening the 6GHz spectrum will change the game for Wi-Fi 6 by delivering faster speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connectivity for a wide range of consumer and professional applications.”
WBA Board Member Chris Bruce believes Wi-Fi 6 and its use in the 6 GHz band in countries where this is made available will deliver a step change in data throughput, network performance and user experience.
Bruce is also Managing Director of Global Reach Technology, which delivers Wi-Fi services in high-density transport hub and outdoor city centre environments, where there is typically high footfall, extremely high Wi-Fi authentication volumes and resulting concurrent sessions. “Using Wi-Fi 6 technology in these areas will help deliver an excellent experience where large volumes of devices connect seamlessly to the Wi-Fi network using Hotspot 2.0 (Passpoint) technologies,” he declares.