December 22, 2023

4 min

Wi-Fi 6E and the Future of Networking

Wi-Fi 6E marks a pivotal shift for networks, addressing future needs with its 6Ghz spectrum. Despite a higher upfront cost, the investment in your organization’s infrastructure now futureproofs you for the arrival of Wi-Fi 7 and 8.

The wireless industry is undergoing its most significant transformation in two decades, with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6E, paving the way for future-proofing networks and the arrival of Wi-Fi 7.

For organizations contemplating a network refresh, which we recommend every three to five years, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6E isn’t just a recommendation, it’s the optimal choice.

If you think of your Wi-Fi network as a highway system, then Wi-Fi 6E compatible devices such as the latest iPhones are supercars. However, these supercars can only move as fast as your network’s bandwidth allows, and with the explosion of mobile devices flooding your Wi-Fi environment, major traffic jams are inevitable throughout your organization.

When your organization upgrades to Wi-Fi 6E, you’re able to direct traffic more cleanly with its enhanced capabilities and unprecedented performance. Suddenly, you have 59 new lanes and the power of the 6Ghz spectrum to push your supercars (devices) to the limit.

Wi-Fi 6E Is More Than a Half Step

Today, many organizations in need of a network refresh still run on the fourth generation of Wi-Fi, and may be considering Wi-Fi 6 instead. While that option may appear to make more fiscal sense now, the reality is that you’re setting your organization up for higher costs in the near future.

Not only is Wi-Fi 6 projected to become outdated in the next few years, it also lacks a number of the notable advantages of Wi-Fi 6E. Consider the following:

  • In the past three years, there’s been a noticeable increase in video collaborations, with voice and video traffic traversing networks in unprecedented ways.
  • Augmented reality, though not widely prevalent today, is on the horizon, and Wi-Fi 6E plays a pivotal role in enabling its development.
  • Wi-Fi 6E significantly enhances the efficiency of battery-powered devices, such as cameras and sensors, eliminating redundancy and extending battery life.
  • Wi-Fi 6E has improved protocols. Coupled with the enhanced security features of WPA3, it addresses various vulnerabilities and offers more robust governance over segmented guest traffic.
  • For environments with high-density networks, such as educational institutions, the 6Ghz spectrum offers cleaner signals and increased options for accommodating the vast majority of devices.

Why Wi-Fi 6E Will Future-Proof Your Organization

Transitioning to Wi-Fi 6E requires a comprehensive approach, involving upgrades to access points, cables and switches. The introduction of the 6G radio brings additional energy requirements that require careful consideration of infrastructure and power capabilities.

While Wi-Fi 6E is considered premium and comes with initial costs, the prices are expected to decrease over time. The current drive for network upgrades stems from the necessity to replace outdated wireless systems, making it a crucial step for those looking to stay ahead of future needs.

The infrastructure necessary to run Wi-Fi 6E will likely remain relevant for Wi-Fi 7 and 8. This is because the prospect of an additional channel for public use seems incredibly unlikely, given that it took the FCC about 20 years to ungate the 6Ghz spectrum. Even if the FCC were open to doing this, development might be a decade or more away.

The Importance of a Wireless Site Survey

Proper planning, layering, redundancy and power considerations are absolutely crucial to a successful Wi-Fi 6E deployment.

While wireless engineers have become adept at predictive surveys, the 6Ghz spectrum interacts differently with objects. Wi-Fi 6E requires the creation of smaller cells. Unlike the previous “big bubbles” of Wi-Fi, businesses must now overlap these smaller cells strategically.

This is where CDW’s networking experts come in. We can help you to create a comprehensive plan when adopting Wi-Fi 6E, focusing on correct layering, avoiding channel overlap and ensuring that your infrastructure can support your organization now and into the future.

Extreme Networks is a leader in cloud networking, helping customers transform their network into a strategic asset to achieve better outcomes.

Aaron  Pratt

Aaron Pratt

CDW Expert
Aaron Pratt is an Enterprise Networking Team Lead at CDW and provides technical leadership and strategy for the Solution Architect team. He has been in the IT industry for more than 20 years, with extensive experience in Healthcare, Higher Education, and Fortune 500 Enterprises.