This editorial appears in the November 2022 edition (Issue 7) of the Wi-Fi Alliance® Wi-Fi 6E Insights newsletter, a quarterly newsletter sharing updates on regulatory developments in the growing Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem. To subscribe to the newsletter, please sign up here.
Welcome to the latest edition of the Wi-Fi 6E Insights newsletter. Wi-Fi 6E refers to devices that offer the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 – including higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates – extended into the 5925-7125 GHz frequency band (the 6 GHz band). Developed for policymakers and regulators in the EMEA region and beyond, this newsletter focuses on developments related to Wi-Fi 6E and the views of key stakeholders.
As spectrum regulators decide to open access to the 6 GHz band, users worldwide are enthusiastically embracing Wi-Fi 6E technology. Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 660 devices for Wi-Fi 6E, and in what could be the world’s largest Wi-Fi 6E deployment to-date, the University of Michigan, has installed 16,000 Wi-Fi 6E access points across 225 buildings.
Now, the university’s network can support 70,000 concurrent connections and users typically get download speeds of 300 to 400 Mbps. For a leading research institution, that kind of connectivity is highly advantageous. “We believe in using this unlicensed spectrum because there are inherent benefits for research,” Ravi Pendse, CIO at the University of Michigan, told the Wi-Fi Alliance in a recent podcast. Wi-Fi 6E is allowing “many researchers to move data at incredibly high speeds without interfering with each other because of the number of channels that are simply available.”
Similarly, Wi-Fi 6E has brought a boost to San Francisco’s Chase Center, a major live entertainment venue, while enabling Novant Health to provide secure, dedicated connectivity for mission-critical healthcare apps and thousands of medical devices. "Wi-Fi 6E brings 1200 MHz of interference-free spectrum that will enable advanced healthcare deployment scenarios,” says Allen Rider, chief wireless network architect at Novant Health. “Wi-Fi 6E is the catalyst that will enable our vision of next-generation healthcare and patient experiences.”
Access to the full 6 GHz band brings big benefits
Encouragingly, EMEA regulators are recognizing that allowing license-exempt access to the full 6 GHz band would accomplish two important policy objectives: alleviate growing Wi-Fi® data traffic congestion, and enable their citizens to benefit fully from the significant performance advances made possible by Wi-Fi 6E, particularly when paired with fiber or cable connectivity. Recently, the United Kingdom spectrum regulator (Ofcom) ,in a submission to the CEPT, accurately assessed the license-exempt use of the upper 6 GHz band (6425-7125 MHz) as “a credible alternative use for this band: North America and a number of countries in other regions have license exempted the band for use, such as Wi-Fi and 5G NR-U (5G New Radio Unlicensed). This would take advantage of the nascent ecosystem of devices serving significant indoor traffic earlier than could be achieved by IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications).”
Similarly, for telecom providers, Wi-Fi 6E is becoming an integral part of their broadband service infrastructure. “Customers will see a step change in performance, with faster speeds, lower latency and improved reliability,” says Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at CCS Insight, in Vodafone’s press release announcing the new Wi-Fi 6E hub, which could enable customers to enjoy average download speeds of 910 Mbps. Vodafone UK noted that more than 150 Wi-Fi 6E devices can be connected to its new hub, underlining the rapid growth in the Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem.
The need to combat climate change and the ongoing energy crisis are also important reasons for expanding Wi-Fi access. Wi-Fi technology excels in low power, cognitive radio techniques including spectrum sensing, spectrum sharing and adaptive transmission. These techniques enable Wi-Fi to significantly outperform cellular in energy efficiency.
Importantly, Wi-Fi is, by far, the best way to provide low cost and energy-efficient indoor connectivity. To penetrate building walls, particularly of energy-efficient buildings, the wide-area, cellular networks need to transmit at high levels of power. As a result, connecting an indoor device to an outdoor base station consumes a disproportionate amount of energy, while also resulting in shorter recharge cycles, increasing battery wear, and additional electronic waste.
Employing Wi-Fi, rather than cellular, in the 6 GHz band will minimize power consumption, helping consumers and business to conserve energy resources. Indeed, Orange France says it will remind customers to switch to use Wi-Fi at home during periods of peak energy consumption. Greater energy efficiency, in combination with significantly lower equipment and deployment infrastructure costs, make Wi-Fi one of the most eco-friendly and economical communications solutions.
In summary, allowing Wi-Fi 6E in the entire 6 GHz band delivers significant socioeconomic benefits to both developing and developed economies. And the Wi-Fi industry is ready to deliver these benefits as it has done for the University of Michigan, Novant Health, the Chase Center and other early adopters of Wi-Fi 6E in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
We hope you find this newsletter a useful source of information on Wi-Fi 6E and its potential to drive socioeconomic progress. If you would like to receive further editions, please subscribe.
The statements and opinions by each Wi-Fi Alliance member and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions or views of Wi-Fi Alliance or any other member. Wi-Fi Alliance is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by any member in posting to or commenting on this blog. Concerns should be directed to email@example.com.