Wi-Fi Alliance launches certification for 6E devices

Wi-Fi smartphone
IDC expects Wi-Fi 6E will see rapid adoption in 2021, with more than 338 million devices entering the market. Smartphones, PCs and laptops will be in the first wave.(Getty Images)

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced that its certification program for Wi-Fi 6E is now available to deliver interoperability for devices operating in the 6 GHz spectrum.

In the U.S., the FCC last year voted to open 1,200 megahertz of 6 GHz spectrum for unlicensed uses, and since then, global momentum for Wi-Fi at 6 GHz is increasing every day, according to Kevin Robinson, SVP of Marketing at the Wi-Fi Alliance. Traditionally in the U.S., Wi-Fi has operated in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

The U.K., Europe, Chile, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have all made the decision to use the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi. Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Jordan are making progress toward that end.

According to Robinson, Wi-Fi Alliance members have really mobilized around Wi-Fi 6E, the designation for devices based on the Wi-Fi 6 standard that is “extended” to work in the 6 GHz band, setting up 2021 to be a breakout year for Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.

“We’re expecting very rapid adoption of Wi-Fi 6E in devices,” with IDC predicting more than 300 million devices with Wi-Fi 6E entering the market in 2021, he said. That’s an incredibly rapid deployment for a technology of this type, he added.

With the virtual CES 2021 kicking off next week, more devices with Wi-Fi 6E are likely to be announced. Broadcom and Qualcomm already have made announcements in the chip arena. It’s not a stretch to expect to hear support for it via the Samsung Galaxy line.

JM Choi, VP/head of Group/Convergence R&D Group at Samsung Electronics, hinted at such in a statement among the many Wi-Fi Alliance members supporting the certification efforts.

“Samsung is proud to work together with the Wi-Fi Alliance in support of the Wi-Fi 6E launch to create a faster and smoother connected experience. As a leading innovator of mobile experiences, we were among the very first to offer Wi-Fi Certified 6 products and 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 6 GHz band very soon,” Choi stated.

RELATED: Wi-Fi Alliance gears up for 6 GHz opportunity with introduction of Wi-Fi 6E

One of the unique things about Wi-Fi Certified around 6 GHz is the band provides a unique opportunity to get sort of a “clean break” from legacy technologies, Robinson said. At 6 GHz, only Wi-Fi 6 will be operating in the band as opposed to prior generations of the standard, and that’s a requirement of certification.

WPA3, the latest generation for security, also will be applied to the 6 GHz band. Of course, backwards interoperability remains a core tenet of Wi-Fi’s success, and that will be maintained in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.

In the 6 GHz band in the U.S., there are up to seven “super wide” 160 MHz channel. One area where that becomes especially relevant is in the use of AR/VR headset. Those types of devices supporting Wi-Fi 6E are likely to come in the middle of 2021.

Wi-Fi 6 was coined prior to getting access to the 6 GHz band, and some confusion around "6" is understandable. The 6E designation means the device extends into the 6 GHz band. But 6E is based on the sixth generation of Wi-Fi technology; it just so happens to get additional benefits by operating in the pristine new 6 GHz frequency band.