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The sixth generation of Wi-Fi—802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6—is a widely acclaimed standard at this time. The introduction of Wi-Fi 6— an advanced, faster version of Wi-Fi—back in 2019 was a revolutionary development as it brilliantly manages dense, crowded networks with numerous client devices. Wi-Fi 6 is currently the most popular wireless standard in routers. Compared to the previous generation of network standards, Wi-Fi 6 offers better speeds and a more secure network. Plus, it preserves the battery life of devices connected to the network. What’s more exciting is that the Wi-Fi Alliance® has already rolled out an upgrade and an extension for Wi-Fi 6 called Wi-Fi 6e.

Keeping up with all these Wi-Fi standards is difficult as all the technicalities attached are enough to make one’s head spin. Understanding the different features will help you select the Wi-Fi standard best for your use. Are you wondering what the new Wi-Fi 6e brings to the table? How is it different from Wi-Fi 6? Is the upgrade to Wi-Fi 6e worth it with wireless 7 right around the corner? Let us break it down for you!

First, Let’s Talk Wi-Fi

If you are unfamiliar with the Wi-Fi naming approach of Wi-Fi Alliance, the references to Wi-Fi 6 must be confusing you. The previous Wi-Fi naming system relied on a string of numbers and alphabets, which was difficult to follow. To eliminate confusion, the Wi-Fi Alliance—in 2018—announced a new naming standard that provides an easy-to-understand designation for both the Wi-Fi technology supported by your device and used in a connection your device makes with your Wi-Fi network.

The new version, 802.11ax, is the 6th version of 802.11, so it is called Wi-Fi 6. Similarly, Wi-Fi 5 identifies devices that support 802.11ac technology. And Wi-Fi 4 identifies devices that support 802.11n technology.

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6e

Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ax, is the latest version of the 802.11 standard for Wi-Fi. It is a backward-compatible upgrade over the previous version of the Wi-Fi standard—known as 802.11ac.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of the latest wireless standard. Along with using the 2.4GHZ and 5GHz bands, it can operate on the 6GHZ spectrum as well. Although the unlicensed broadcasting of Wi-Fi 6E began in 2019, it was rolled out on devices in early 2021.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi 6E adds 14 additional 80 MHz channels and 7 additional 160 MHz channels. The best part is these channels do not overlap, which helps reduce network congestion. So, a heavy-duty gamer or video streamer can use one of the wide 160 MHZ channels without starving all other connected devices of data.

Wi-Fi 6 vs 6E: How Are They Different?

Well, Wi-Fi 6e is not a new version of the Wi-Fi protocol like Wi-Fi 6, but sort of a special designation for Wi-Fi 6 devices equipped with the 6GHz band, which most old versions of routers do not support.

So, is there any difference in the performance of Wi-Fi 6 vs 6E? Yes! Being able to broadcast on a new band definitely affects the functionality of these Wi-Fi standards. Here are some key areas where the two standards differ:

Speed Performance

There is a consistent speed comparison between Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. Know that Wi-Fi 6E is not technically faster than Wi-Fi 6 as both move at the same speed. However, the fact that Wi-Fi 6E has access to new airwaves and channels that are far less congested than others gives it a competitive edge over Wi-Fi 6 in terms of faster and significantly more powerful Wi-Fi connectivity.

Coverage Area

Most operators already use the 6 GHz band, so the real concern is how indoor coverage will be affected by the change. Well, it is actually where the most significant impact will be observed.

Consumers who upgrade to Wi-Fi 6e will enjoy excellent coverage. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi 6e is great for supporting multi-device networks, which include crowded home networks. Perhaps the best thing about Wi-Fi 6e is its capability to provide faster and more evenly spread signal across your entire household, so you can be anywhere and access the same quality connection. That said, the 6 GHz band has a shorter range than the 5 GHz band, meaning you may need to invest in mesh systems for complete 6 GHz coverage.

If we talk about Wi-Fi 6, its signal quality and strength greatly vary depending on where you are in your household or other space. It might work well for small living spaces, but large homes may witness these effects more often—particularly while streaming or video conferencing.

Quality of Connection

Wi-Fi 6E uses a larger spectrum than other Wi-Fi networks, which is less congested with little to no interference or competition. The extra band enables it to use its features to their full potential. So when connected to a Wi-Fi 6E network, you are less likely to experience dropped signals, poor quality video or audio, and so on.

However, if you do not live in a densely populated area with several competing devices, you will not notice much of a difference between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E as even the 5GHZ band will have only a little competition.

Should I Invest in a Wi-Fi 6e Compatible Device?

All new Wi-Fi 6e devices are backward compatible, which means they will work well with previous Wi-Fi standards. However, your old devices will not support Wi-Fi 6E. To take advantage of the new wireless standard, you will have to invest in new equipment. This will not come cheap, as the routers that support Wi-Fi 6e are top-notch and pricey.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, there are more than 200 Wi-Fi 6e compatible products, which include routers. One of the more affordable Wi-Fi 6e-compatible models is the Linksys Hydra Pro, which will set you back by $300. In comparison, the average cost of Wi-Fi 6 routers is $250, and some are even down half the price.

So keep in mind, if you wish to have access to a less congested Wi-Fi channel, you will have to spend a good amount of money.

In a Nutshell

We understand it must be difficult to keep up with all the Wi-Fi jargon, especially as there is always something new coming up. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E share several similarities with a few key differences, but whether or not you should upgrade to 6e depends greatly on your internet usage and household size. If you want faster speeds and better multi-device connectivity, the upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E is definitely worth it.

That said, if your in-home Wi-Fi experience only worsens with time, it may be a sign to upgrade your internet plan. Call 1-855-349-9328 for professional assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Wi-Fi 6 the same as 6e?

Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of the existing Wi-Fi 6 wireless standard. The ‘e’ in Wi-Fi 6e stands for ‘extended’. It provides an upgrade over the Wi-Fi 6 standard by adding over a gigahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum. The additional spectrum enables routers to create ultra-wide data channels for seamless, heavy-duty internet usage.

How much faster is Wi-Fi 6E than Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 and 6E largely have the same features and move at the same speed. However, the latter has less congested airways, enabling enhanced Wi-Fi signal speed and performance.

Is it worth upgrading from Wi-Fi 6 to 6E?

Well, it depends. If you want to future-proof your home network, and do not mind the added cost of Wi-Fi 6e routers, upgrading to Wi-Fi 6e may be worth it. However, the average consumer might not see a huge difference or find the switch highly beneficial, especially with Wi-Fi 7 right around the corner.

Does Wi-Fi 6E have a longer range?

Wi-Fi 6E has a higher frequency and shorter range. This means that the signal will fall after a short distance. The band technology will likely improve over time and get better broadcasting power, until then you can use a mesh system to distribute the Wi-Fi signals better.