FCC has allowed the use of 6GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi in the United States of America. Since the Wi-Fi alliance already announced Wi-Fi 6E standard that’s basically Wi-Fi 6 for 6GHz band, the announcement was very much expected.
The FCC ruling marks the biggest improvement to Wi-Fi in over 20 years. 6GHz band will double Wi-Fi bandwidth and add 6 more 160MHz super-highways for use by Wi-Fi 6E devices. This will help realize the true potential of Wi-Fi 6, especially in congested urban environments.
Currently, only two 160MHz bands are available to Wi-Fi 6 devices and even these have to be shared with other older generation devices.
Of course, in practice, not all of the 1200MHz spectrum in the 6GHz band will be available for access. Some of this is already in licensed use and there are bound to be some regional limitations. Nevertheless, Wi-Fi performance will significantly improve.
Only Wi-Fi 6E devices will have access to the 6GHz band. Older devices can’t be upgraded to leverage the 6GHz band and will continue operating on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
We are still not sure if mobile devices will be permitted to act as access points while using 160MHz bands. In simpler terms, users still might not be able to leverage these broad 160MHz superhighways while creating Wi-Fi hotspot from mobile devices.
When will we see Wi-Fi 6E devices?
Shifting from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E doesn’t require much development work by manufacturers. In fact, Broadcomm already showcased a chipset for Wi-Fi 6E routers at CES 2020.
Now that FCC regulations are in place, we expect to see first wave of Wi-Fi 6E devices in the next few months.