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WiFi 6E Routers are Coming: Should I Replace My Current Router?

You may have just become familiar with WiFi 6 routers. But, all of a sudden, tech news is all about WiFi 6E routers. What is WiFi 6E, and why does it sound so similar to WiFi 6? Yes, you are on the right track. WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are similar. Then, should I upgrade to WiFi 6E routers and devices if they are similar? However, the “E” also introduces differences between the two wireless technologies the routers use.

Shared Features between WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E

WiFi 6 and 6E are both based on the latest version of 802.11, that is, 802.11ax (WiFi 6), developing from 802.11ac (WiFi 5). Given the naming system, it can be inferred that WiFi 6 and 6E shares quite a lot of features, which distinguish them from the previous WiFi generation.

  • Eight-Stream Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO)

    MU-MIMO technology allows your router or access point to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. It was first introduced when WiFi 5 was released. Compared with MU-MIMO in WiFi 5, the number of streams has been raised from four to eight in WiFi 6 and 6E, which translates to higher traffic efficiency.

  • Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA)

    OFDMA technology allows your router or access point to use the overall bandwidth more efficiently by reducing the time between data transmission. It means maximum transmission power is utilized based on the data rate of users.

  • Enhancement in Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)

    With QAM, WiFi devices change radio waves to chunks of binary codes for transmission. WiFi 5 is capable of 256 QAM and sends eight digits of binary code per transmission. WiFi 6 and 6E are a lot better with 1024 QAM, sending ten digits per transmission. In other words, it improves the transmission rate by about 30%.

Differences between WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E

Despite the similarities and shared features, WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are indeed quite different. The additional “E” here stands for “extended.” WiFi 6E means that WiFi 6 is extended to the 6 GHz band. The extra band brings more advantages.

  • Extra Spectrum

    The addition of the 6 GHz band means more spectrum. Compared with other WiFi standards, WiFi 6E is the only one that operates on three bands: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz. The extra spectrum will significantly reduce the network overlap and enhance network experience, especially in crowded environments.

  • Channels with Higher Bandwidth

    The full spectrum of the 6 GHz band is 1200 MHz, which is the widest frequency range among the three bands (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz). A wider band means more high-bandwidth channels are available. The 6 GHz boasts up to fourteen 80 MHz channels or seven 160 MHz channels. The high throughput provides a solid foundation for high-bandwidth-demanding activities, such as VR gaming and high-definition video conference.

  • No Competing Legacy Devices

    The legacy device is another buzzword when talking about WiFi 6E. Unlike WiFi 6 operating at the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, WiFi 6E and the WiFi 6E-enabled devices can exclusively use the entire 6 GHz band. When using WiFi 6E, there is no need to compete with legacy devices and slow down the speed of data transmissions.