January 8, 2021
The Wi-Fi Alliance began its Wi-Fi 6E certification program for devices built to transmit signals on the newly launched 6GHz band. Introduced just before CES 2021, the program comes in time to certify next-generation devices that can take advantage of the fastest speeds ever available with Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi 6, which began its rollout in 2019, adds access to the 6GHz band after the Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to open it for unlicensed use. Until now, Wi-Fi use has relied on 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
CNET reports that, according to IDC research director Phil Solis, “Wi-Fi 6E will see rapid adoption in 2021 with more than 338 million devices entering the market, and nearly 20 percent of all Wi-Fi 6 device shipments supporting 6GHz by 2022.” “This year, we expect to see new Wi-Fi 6E chipsets from several companies, and a variety of new Wi-Fi 6E smartphones, PCs and laptops in the first quarter of 2021 followed by TVs and VR product announcements midyear,” he added.
The Wi-Fi Alliance incorporated Wi-Fi 6E standards into Wi-Fi Certified 6 to ensure that “new 6E devices stay secure and fully interoperable, regardless of region or manufacturer.”
“Consumers take it on faith that if you go buy a Wi-Fi device, it’s going to connect to your router,” said Wi-Fi Alliance spokesperson Kevin Robinson. “The reason that is in fact the case is because of Wi-Fi Certified. The industry puts a lot of value in getting devices through that testing so that the end experience is that everything works together.”
Wi-Fi Certified also “focuses on standardizing security protocols,” requiring, for example, that Wi-Fi 6E devices “support the latest protocol, WPA3, which promises better defense against attempts to brute force your network’s password, among other improvements.” Robinson noted that this is “an opportunity for a clean break from the legacy requirements of the 2.4 and 5GHz bands.”
Many industry members of the Wi-Fi Alliance who will showcase Wi-Fi 6E devices at CES 2021 praise the move. “Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs are essential to ensure confidence around Wi-Fi device interoperability,” said Intel’s Eric McLaughlin, VP of the Client Computing Group and GM of the Wireless Solutions Group. “New Wi-Fi 6E capability represents one of the single most important advancements in recent wireless history and is critical to helping address the growing demand for capacity, broadband access, and new usages.”
CNET predicts that one of the first Wi-Fi 6E phones we’ll see on the market will likely come from Samsung, “an early adopter of Wi-Fi 6 with its Galaxy S10 lineup.” Samsung Electronics vice president and Convergence R&D Group head JM Choi said, “we were among the very first to offer Wi-Fi Certified 6 products … [and we] 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 6GHz band very soon.”