When it comes to Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E, it’s easy to get a little carried away, even if you’re an IT pro. With a new Wi-Fi naming convention just adopted a few years ago, Wi-Fi 6E might seem like a throwback to the bad old days of alphabet soup Wi-Fi ratings, but that’s not the case here.
Wi-Fi 6E is an enhanced version of Wi-Fi 6 that extends the 6GHz radio spectrum. This means faster speeds, more connections, and less interference congestion. You may need new equipment to take advantage of this new spectrum, as even the best Wi-Fi 6 routers can’t access this new spectrum if they weren’t designed for Wi-Fi 6E.
Furthermore, it’s not enough to have the best wireless router, the best computer, the best laptop, the best tablet, or even the best phone that won’t be able to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6E if it doesn’t. built to do that.
Given the potential confusion between the two versions of Wi-Fi 6, we reached out to the Wi-Fi Alliance, the association responsible for the Wi-Fi standard, to help explain the advantages of Wi-Fi 6E versus Wi-Fi 6 to help you make the right decision when it comes to buying a device. Your next routing and making sure all your devices are ready to take advantage of all that 6 GHz has to offer.
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E: Does 6GHz Make a Huge Difference?
For many Wi-Fi users, congestion is the biggest problem they face. If there are too many devices trying to connect to a single Wi-Fi network or if there are too many Wi-Fi networks in the same area, then constant slowdowns or disconnections occur.
However, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in 2020 to open up space in the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi connections, which means there’s more open airwaves that Wi-Fi 6E routers can use to broadcast a signal and a lot less chance of dropping during Try calling at home, in the office, or in a coffee shop.
The industry name for this is Wi-Fi 6E, as these signals provide the same improvements as Wi-Fi 6 — higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates — but now with an additional 6GHz of headroom. So basically, while 6E and 6 both offer the same features, 6E has a lot more room to play with, which means you’ll get a much better internet experience with it.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, “The additional spectrum capacity used by Wi-Fi 6E devices enables further Wi-Fi innovations and provides valuable contributions to consumers, businesses, and economies.”
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E: The price
As the Wi-Fi Alliance told TechRadar, “More than 200 Wi-Fi 6E products are available, and many of those products now include Wi-Fi 6E routers.” There is a variety of products currently on the market.
Currently, routers that support Wi-Fi 6E are at the top of the line, which means they tend to carry a hefty price tag. If you’re thinking of upgrading your setup to output the best and least cluttered Wi-Fi signal, you’ll be coughing up quite a bit of money for it.
The Linksys Hydra Pro is one of the cheapest models out there (Opens in a new tab), will still set you back about $300. So, unless you are a gamer looking for the best gaming router or someone who needs a fast and uninterrupted internet connection, it might be wise to hold off on buying for now.
Meanwhile, Wi-Fi 6 routers cost about $250 on average, some come at half the price, and the signal is just as fast as 6E. So if dropped signals aren’t an issue for you but price is, these routers would be a much better option.
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E: Coverage
What’s interesting is that 6 GHz is already in use outdoors by many operators such as utility companies, public safety agencies, and television broadcasters. So the important question is how indoor coverage will be affected by the change.
This is likely where the most significant effect will appear. For those who upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E, consumers will experience the kind of wide coverage only seen at trade shows and conferences. The Wi-Fi Alliance confirmed this, stating that “Wi-Fi 6E routers can better support dense multi-device Wi-Fi networks. This can include public places, businesses, and even now more commonly crowded home networks.”
No more internet blind spots in your home where connection strength drops sharply because the spectrum that 6E inhabits is much less crowded. This means faster and more even signal spread across the entire family, so anyone can be anywhere and experience the same connection quality.
Wi-Fi 6, depending on where you are at home or somewhere else, can have huge differences in signal strength and quality depending on where you are. If you’re in a smaller living space, this tends to have less of an impact, but larger homes or office spaces will feel these effects more often. This is especially true when running high-performance tasks such as video conferencing or broadcasting.
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E: Speed
Wi-Fi 6E is incredibly fast and offers consumers a clean frequency that, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance, delivers “multi-gigabit speeds with 1,200MHz of open airwaves in the 6GHz band.” This means that 8K videos, game broadcasts, and more will become more popular as 6E coverage expands.
Although technically speed is not the correct definition in the case of Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E. The latter is not actually faster than the former, as they both offer the same features and move at the same speeds. But because 6E has its own open airwaves compared to other types of Wi-Fi, there is much less congestion which means the signal is able to take full advantage of those airwaves.
The connection will continue to be faster and more robust with the ability to download gigabits per second under a 6E connection. Of course, the details will depend on your internet provider and other factors, but the possibilities are there.
With Wi-Fi 6, connections are technically as fast as 6E. However, since it often has to play nice with other nearby signals and any devices trying to connect to the same signal, it can cause slow speeds and other issues. Depending on how you use your Wi-Fi, this can be either a minor inconvenience or a major problem. This means in some cases you may not need to upgrade from 6 at all.
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 6E: Connections
This is also where the Wi-Fi shines, as it’s the quality of the connection that makes it feel much faster than the 6, even though it’s just as fast. Because 6E takes up more spectrum than other Wi-Fi signals, it doesn’t face competition at the high end of the spectrum, and is therefore able to take full advantage of its features in all that extra space.
It also means that slow or dropped signals are rare, so the odds of your device losing connection in the middle of an important task are much lower. Stability is a more important feature than pure speed for many people, and this is where the 6E really excels.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, “With up to seven additional 160MHz Ultra Wideband channels available, Wi-Fi 6E devices deliver greater network performance and support more Wi-Fi users simultaneously, even in very dense and crowded environments.”
Although if you don’t have many devices or live near other competing signals in the area, Wi-Fi 6 makes more sense as your choice since you probably won’t notice much of a difference between the two.