Checking in on enterprise-class Wi-Fi 6E (Reader Discussion board)

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The considered Wi-Fi 6E has had technologists salivating over entry to pristine spectrum. It’s like having the seaside entrance to your self. No site visitors from different customers. Nobody getting sand in your towel. 

From a protocol stack perspective, Wi-Fi 6E is similar normal as Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax. The breakthrough is that it may well function within the 6 GHz spectrum, beforehand unavailable for Wi-Fi.

In Could 2020, Tam Dell’Oro wrote in regards to the FCC’s choice to attribute this frequency for unlicensed use within the US. She defined the transfer opened the door for Wi-Fi to rival 5G in IoT purposes. It elevated obtainable spectrum by an almost 5 instances, bettering rural connectivity. Dell’Oro predicted that Europe and nations within the Center East would comply with in allocating this band for Wi-Fi use.  (For an up to date view of which nations have adopted the brand new frequency for Wi-Fi, see right here.)

Since then our lives have been turned the other way up by a two and a half-year pandemic. Hybrid work is the brand new actuality. Designated workstations are gone and environment friendly scorching desking wants good Wi-Fi protection. With giant swaths of the work-force at house, LAN site visitors patterns have modified.  On the day that everybody involves the workplace, the Wi-Fi is stretched to capability.

The pandemic has thrown one other wrench within the works by wreaking havoc with provide chains. Producers have record-level backlogs. Enterprises have been ready for 6-months to a 12 months to obtain their Wi-fi LAN orders, utilizing older out-of-date gear within the meantime.

By February of this 12 months, storm clouds have been brewing on the 6E coast. Enterprises have been asking for Wi-Fi 6, not 6E.  As well as, chip makers have been promising that Wi-Fi 7, which can even use the brand new 6 GHz spectrum, was not far off.  “If you happen to have a look at the indicators, the course they’re pointing to is that 7 goes to be the improve; 6E goes to be the area of interest,” said Dell’Oro in an interview with RCR Wi-fi.

Now, Enterprise-class Wi-Fi 6E has been in the marketplace 4 quarters and it’s time to check out the laborious numbers. How is Wi-Fi 6E stacking up when it comes to cargo volumes? 

Shipments have been, properly … underwhelming.  When in comparison with a mean of the three prior WLAN applied sciences (Wi-Fi 5 Wave 1, Wi-Fi 5 Wave 2 and Wi-Fi 6), Wi-Fi 6E has shipped at one third the speed. Let’s check out what could possibly be holding issues again.

  1. Sluggish take up by WLAN producers. On the writing of this weblog, there are over half a dozen corporations delivery enterprise-grade Wi-Fi 6E.  Nonetheless, when the primary 6E WLAN Entry Level shipped within the third quarter of 2021, there have been solely two distributors with merchandise.   The subsequent vendor didn’t begin delivery for one more two quarters, an unusually sluggish adoption.  The subsequent few factors might clarify why producers have been sluggish to leap aboard.
  2. Lack of merchandise as a consequence of provide chain issues. Each WLAN vendor outdoors China can be promoting extra models if they might produce them.  As a result of it helps a 3rd frequency band, Wi-Fi 6E requires extra elements than older variations of Wi-Fi, an obstacle when provide is brief. Nonetheless we did see a 12 % Y/Y development in unit shipments within the second quarter.  If the margins have been compelling, distributors can be prioritizing Wi-Fi 6E merchandise. The availability chain issues are a complication, however there are different elements at play.
  3. Worldwide applicability. Whereas 28 nations have allotted the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi use, a number of haven’t. Particularly, China, whose enterprises bought practically 30 % of the world’s models final 12 months, has not authorised this spectrum for Wi-Fi use.  To check whether or not the dearth of Chinese language demand was hampering worldwide adoption, we took a glance the info excluding this market.  The evaluation confirmed that outdoors China, after 4 quarters of availability, Wi-Fi 6E shipments are nonetheless solely 35% of the common penetration achieved by the final three applied sciences.  Clearly, there should be different causes of the sluggish adoption.
  4. Restrictions on outside use and potential interference. Each the FCC and the CEPT in Europe have authorised Wi-Fi 6E for indoor use. It isn’t permitted for Efficient Isotropic Radiated Energy (EIRP) ranges above 30 dBm within the US or 24 dBm in Europe. Wi-Fi APs transmitting outdoor within the 6 GHz band can intervene with important purposes already utilizing the frequency.  Interference with utility or railway management programs may have catastrophic penalties. Within the US, for an AP to function at “Customary Energy” (wanted for outside purposes), it should first seek the advice of an Computerized Frequency Management system.  A number of organizations have utilized to turn into AFC system operators, however the course of has not been finalized.  Producers are eager to start outside deployments — two have already introduced outside 6E APs.  Nonetheless, for the previous 5 years, outside APs have represented solely about 4% of the entire models shipped.  This leaves us with another doable motive holding 6E deployments again.
  5. Help on finish gadgets. Though lots of the high-end lap tops and cell phones assist Wi-Fi 6E, there are nonetheless many legacy PCs and smartphones in use.  As well as, Apple left 6E out of the newest iPhone 14 launch in September.  Till there’s assist in mainstream enterprise-class PCs and mid-tier cell gadgets, Wi-Fi 6E won’t be broadly adopted.

Regardless of its sluggish begin, there are some fascinating issues taking place with Wi-Fi 6E.  In July, the College of Michigan accomplished a undertaking to blanket two campuses, giving college students and employees entry to HD video streams of their densely populated lecture rooms and auditoriums. Alongside one other vein, the IoT Work Group on the Wi-fi Broadband Alliance is investigating Wi-Fi 6E’s capacity to fulfill stringent low-latency necessities for Industrial IoT. As industrial corporations rely on extra wi-fi gear, the brand new 6 GHz band will likely be important. Within the meantime, on the Dell’Oro Group, we’ve raised our forecast for Wi-Fi 6, predicting that 6E will stay area of interest till Wi-Fi 7 turns into obtainable. If you happen to’re on the 6 GHz Wi-Fi seaside, you possibly can put up an umbrella and stretch out.  It will likely be quiet for just a few extra quarters

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