Every WIRED reader is accustomed to that fixed query: Wait for new know-how, or purchase now? No matter how good a gadget is, there’ll virtually definitely be one thing higher arriving quickly. Manufacturers work out the kinks and costs fall. Figuring out which new applied sciences are definitely worth the early adopter tax, and which to cross on till they enhance, is an actual problem.
Even shopping for something as utilitarian as a Wi-Fi router is a minefield. Wi-Fi 6 is a straightforward minimal suggestion for most people proper now. But maybe you’re eyeing the improved pace and efficiency of the newly opened 6-GHz band. You could also be contemplating a Wi-Fi 6E system, however with Wi-Fi 7 on the horizon, must you wait?
The Trouble With Wi-Fi 6E
If you want a greater understanding of the variations, we’ve guides on Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and Wi-Fi 7 that dig into the main points. But for our functions right here, we’re wanting on the opening up of the 6-GHz band. Until Wi-Fi 6E got here alongside, we relied upon the two.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands for all our Wi-Fi wants. Wi-Fi 6E opened up the 6-GHz spectrum for the primary time, however there are restrictions in place that restrict its efficiency.
We spoke to Kevin Robinson, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance, to seek out out extra. When the FCC gave permission to make use of the unlicensed 6-GHz band for Wi-Fi, it had considerations about potential interference for present license holders. Utilities and emergency companies depend on microwave hyperlinks and different wi-fi connections on the 6-GHz band for issues like energy grid operations. It can also be used for satellite tv for pc hyperlink communications, wi-fi backhaul for carriers, and by some broadcasters. To mitigate these considerations, the FCC specified that Wi-Fi 6E methods can be restricted to low-power indoor operation. (Note that these guidelines range from nation to nation, relying on the physique in cost.)
By limiting energy for Wi-Fi 6E methods, the brief vary of the 6-GHz band is ensured, basically limiting it to indoor use. The sign is blocked by partitions, so there’s little or no threat of any interference for incumbents. The downside is that this energy restriction successfully curtails the 6-GHz band.
We have examined a number of Wi-Fi 6E routers and mesh systems, and whereas they permit for some impressively quick and secure connections, the vary of the 6-GHz band could be very restricted. Expect lightning-fast connections in the identical room because the router, however transfer subsequent door or upstairs they usually drop off sharply or hand you over to the 5-GHz band.
Getting the Most from Wi-Fi 6E
Despite the constraints, Wi-Fi 6E does supply advantages over Wi-Fi 6, however solely in sure situations. Most of us don’t have many units that may join on the 6-GHz band. The present checklist contains current Samsung Galaxy S phones and Google Pixels, however not Apple’s iPhones, although Apple has added 6E help to the latest MacBook Pros and iPad Pros. There’s additionally no 6E help within the newest consoles, and it’s nonetheless scarce in laptops and computer systems exterior the newest top-of-the-line fashions.
If you go for a single Wi-Fi 6E router, keep in mind that you may solely make the most of the 6-GHz band when your linked units help 6-GHz and are inside vary. For instance, you’ve gotten the router in your house workplace and a smartphone and laptop computer that help Wi-Fi 6E. The hazard with a tri-band router is that you just hardly ever have something linked to the 6-GHz band. For most individuals, a tri-band system with one 2.4-GHz and two 5-GHz bands will work simply as effectively, and possibly higher, than a system with a 2.4-GHz, 5-GHz, and 6-GHz band.