Networking Demystified: Why Wi-Fi 6E is Sizzling and Why You Ought to Care


Wi-Fi 6E is right here and the worldwide Wi-Fi neighborhood is buzzing about it. However why is it a serious change? What does it imply for individuals’s Wi-Fi expertise and infrastructure distributors like Cisco? And why are Cisco engineers excited concerning the alternatives for innovation? Learn on to study concerning the particulars of 6E and the way this expertise transition can improve your profession too.

Wi-Fi 6E is Extra Than Simply “A Bit Extra Spectrum”

At its coronary heart, Wi-Fi 6E extends Wi-Fi to the 6 GHz band of the wi-fi spectrum. This will not sound very spectacular if you recognize that Wi-Fi at the moment makes use of many different bands. Regulatory our bodies, just like the FCC within the US and ETSI within the European neighborhood, allocate to every radio expertise the appropriate to transmit in segments of the spectrum and specify the allowed transmission traits, comparable to most energy or the form and measurement of the sign. For instance:

  • Within the 2.4 GHz band, Wi-Fi is allowed over a bit extra of the 80 MHz of spectrum, with sometimes as much as 3 channels, every 20 MHz-wide.
  • Within the 5 GHz band, Wi-Fi is allowed over as much as 500 MHz of spectrum, which allows 25 20-MHz-wide channels. These channels could be configured to be bigger, 40 or 80 MHz, at the price of a decrease rely of potential non-overlapping channels—12 and 6 for 40 and 80 MHz respectively.

Bigger channels are sometimes most well-liked as a result of they allow the concurrent transmission of extra knowledge—very similar to a bigger water pipe carries extra water by unit of time—leading to increased capability and a greater expertise for bandwidth-intensive functions like video and AR/VR.

Nonetheless, even with these choices, two neighboring Wi-Fi entry factors (APs) shouldn’t be on overlapping channels as a result of their alerts will collide except one AP waits for the opposite to complete transmitting earlier than commencing its personal transmission. This subject reduces the efficiency of the general system. In dense environments—like college lecture halls or enterprise convention rooms—there may be all the time a tough negotiation to be made between the necessity for extra APs to accommodate extra individuals and their units by allocating them throughout many networking pipes, and the necessity to maximize the dimensions of every AP channel which, in flip, limits the variety of APs that may be within the vary of one another.

Within the US FCC area, Wi-Fi 6E provides 1200 MHz of latest spectrum, creating 59 20-MHz-wide channels, greater than tripling the variety of channels obtainable. That is nice information for any Wi-Fi-dense deployment.

Even in domains the place the brand new allocation is narrower—for instance, in Europe with the ETSI area at the moment planning to allocate 500 MHz—the variety of channels obtainable to Wi-Fi doubles. Which means anyplace that had 40 MHz channels will quickly be capable of swap to 80 MHz channels, doubling the capability and enabling a 1080P video to be upscaled to 4K whereas sustaining the identical expertise.

New Band, New Guidelines

The 6 GHz band was in fact not ready for somebody to want it. The 6 GHz house is in reality composed of 4 sub-bands, outlined as U-NII 5 to U-NII 8 within the US. All of them are already actively in use by fastened, outside units comparable to ground-to-space satellite tv for pc companies and point-to-point microwave hyperlinks. U-NII6 and U-NII 8 are additionally utilized by cellular units—suppose cable tv subject vans sending video again to the primary station. Wi-Fi might want to share these spectrum areas and keep away from disrupting the incumbents. For that reason, the principles for Wi-Fi units rely upon the sub-band the place they function.

6 GHz allocation in the US (FCC domain)
Determine 1. 6 GHz allocation within the US (FCC area)

In all 4 sub-bands, APs and shoppers can function at a low energy mode when positioned inside buildings. Decrease energy means shorter transmission distances and thus smaller Wi-Fi cells, but in addition increased probabilities that one AP or Wi-Fi consumer is not going to hear one other unit effectively sufficient, inflicting packet losses or retries.

In two of the 4 sub-bands, APs and shoppers can function at increased energy—referred to as Normal Energy, with a max energy akin to Wi-Fi in a part of the 5 GHz band—provided that the APs first make it possible for they aren’t disrupting an incumbent transmitter. This verification is just not potential in UNII-6 and UNII-8 as a result of, for instance, it’s tough to foretell the place TV vans will probably be at anyone time, so solely indoor and low energy are allowed in these circumstances. However in UNII-5 and UNII-7 bands, for any outside operation and any operation at normal energy, the AP should confirm at boot time, and ensure each 24 hours, that it’s not broadcasting on a frequency utilized by a hard and fast incumbent. The AP runs this verification by offering its geographical location to a central server—the Automated Frequency Coordinator, or AFC—that returns the 6GHz frequencies allowed within the instant space. The utmost energy allowed for Low Energy Indoor (LPI) APs is half the max energy of Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) APs. And since consumer units should function at half the facility of the APs, this energy puzzle creates attention-grabbing Wi-Fi cell design challenges.

Energy Spectral Density You Say?

The 6 GHz guidelines deliver one other attention-grabbing twist. In 5 GHz and a pair of.4 GHz, the transmission guidelines are pushed by the notion of most Efficient Isotropic Radiated Energy (EIRP), which is the utmost amount of vitality emitted by a consumer or an AP. Because the max EIRP is fastened, a system that transmits over a 20-MHz channel transmits extra vitality per unit of frequency (per MHz) than a system that radiates the identical complete quantity of vitality, however over a wider channel, for instance, 80 MHz.

The thought is similar as a water hose. In case your hose delivers 1 liter per second, it’s going to spray much less water per unit of floor for those who unfold the jet as a flat 3-meter-wide mist than for those who focus the water, energy washer fashion, over only a half sq. centimeter goal. A direct, and typically hidden consequence of this rule is that for those who set your AP channel to a width of 80 MHz (as an alternative of 20 MHz), your cell measurement is mechanically diminished as a result of the quantity of sign obtainable over every MHz of the channel at a given distance is now decrease. A typical approach to categorical this discount is to say that the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), over every MHz of frequency, reduces because the channel width will increase.

The Wi-Fi neighborhood expressed this concern when the 6 GHz allocation was being mentioned by worldwide regulatory our bodies. The good information is that the neighborhood was heard, and the principles are totally different for six GHz band. On this new band, the max energy is now not a ‘complete max’ EIRP however is outlined as max Energy Spectral Density (PSD) or the max energy per MHz—within the hose analogy, that’s the water delivered per unit of floor. This restrict is per MHz and doesn’t change because the channel width modifications. In apply, which means a 6 GHz system can ship the identical quantity of vitality per MHz in an 80 MHz channel as it might in a 20 MHz channel, and due to this fact that the cell measurement stays the identical, whatever the channel width. It simply sends extra complete vitality because the channel measurement will increase.

Power rule comparison between 5 GHz (left) and 6 GHz (right)
Determine 2. Energy rule comparability between 5 GHz (left) and 6 GHz (proper)

A New Golden Age for Wi-fi Engineering

One other thrilling property of the brand new 6 GHz band is that…effectively, it’s new. This will sound like a repeat, however what it actually means is that the trade doesn’t should design compatibility guidelines for older units.

Within the 5 GHz band, for instance, it’s your decision the advantages of all of the goodness of Wi-Fi 6, together with environment friendly scheduling, extraordinarily excessive throughput, and multi-user simultaneous transmissions, however your community might even see older Wi-Fi 5 units round and even older Wi-Fi 2 units from the early 2000s. These have been in all probability already out of date 15 years in the past, however the mere undeniable fact that they could be there forces all later variations of Wi-Fi, together with Wi-Fi 6, to ship frames that may be partially understood by older units so they may detect transmissions and chorus from transmitting on the similar time.

This drawback doesn’t exist within the new band, so it may be optimized for max efficiency. The shoppers nonetheless have to find it, which once more brings many attention-grabbing challenges. For instance, scanning 25 channels in 5 GHz, then 59 extra in 6 GHz, doesn’t sound like an important concept for quick roaming between APs. So, the invention mechanism has to have built-in intelligence. Equally, you could need to preserve 6 GHz for environment friendly site visitors, comparable to your Augmented Actuality functions, and ship the much less pressing site visitors, like your background picture sync to the cloud, to the opposite bands. However this requires a intelligent change mechanism between the consumer and the AP on assets availability, site visitors kind, and so on.

As you’ll be able to see, there are plenty of alternatives to innovate and design wi-fi shoppers that may profit from new 6E alternatives.

Be part of Cisco to Design the Way forward for Wi-Fi

At Cisco, we now have been on the forefront of Wi-Fi innovation for greater than 20 years. Constructing the way forward for Wi-Fi begins by designing nice entry factors, and sensible engines to optimize the expertise that wi-fi shoppers can achieve from optimized networks. Engineers working at Cisco take satisfaction in designing the neatest AI-driven Radio Useful resource Administration engine in the marketplace to dynamically assign channels and energy ranges to neighboring APs. This creates clean steady Wi-Fi protection from small department networks to giant venues like Cell World Congress, the place 1500 APs and 75K+ simultaneous radio communication professionals anticipate nothing lower than an ideal Wi-Fi expertise. Different Cisco improvements embrace OpenRoaming to automate onboarding, and Fastlane+ to optimize the expertise of your Apple iPhone and iPad in a Cisco Wi-Fi 6 community. The total checklist of Cisco wi-fi improvements would take a ebook to enumerate. And with a brand-new 6E band obtainable on our new entry factors, the alternatives to innovate are bounded solely by your creativeness and expertise.

Would you prefer to be a part of the Cisco Wi-Fi 6E journey, and assist invent the way forward for Wi-Fi?

There could also be a spot ready for you. Learn extra!

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