EU paves the way for Wi-Fi 6E devices to hit Europe
In April last year, the FCC opened up 1200MHz of spectrum in the 6GHz band, paving the way for Wi-Fi 6E in the US. The European Union is now following suit and has opened up 480MHz spectrum in the 6GHz band for the implementation of wireless access systems.
For the unaware, Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 802.11ax is the latest Wi-Fi standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance. It supports transfer speeds of up to 9.6Gbps, which is more than double the maximum speed supported by Wi-Fi 5. However, since Wi-Fi 6 broadcasts over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, it suffers from the same spectrum congestion issues that plagued the older generation. Government bodies in several regions are opening up spectrum in the 6GHz band for unlicensed use to address this issue. Wi-Fi 6 devices that support 6GHz operation are labeled as Wi-Fi 6E certified.
The EU’s decision to open up spectrum in the 6GHz band will likely improve real-world performance compared to 5GHz Wi-Fi 5. This is due to the fact that Wi-Fi signals at 5GHz are often not as large as they could be because of limited spectrum availability. With Wi-Fi 6E, supported routers will be able to broadcast at the current maximum allowable channel size, resulting in a faster connection.
In a statement regarding the EU’s decision, the Wi-Fi Alliance said, “This decision will advance Europe’s digital connectivity by enabling deployment of Wi-Fi 6E technologies. Wi-Fi Alliance is committed to continuing to work with the European regulators on developing regulatory framework and spectrum access that is necessary to support the expanding Wi-Fi ecosystem.”
As per the EU’s Official Journal, all member states will have to designate the 5,945-6,425MHz frequency band and make it available on a non-exclusive, non-interference, and non-protected basis by December 1, 2021. According to Wi-Fi Now, the decision only applies to LPI (Low Power Indoor) and VLP (Very Low Power portable) devices. Unlike the US and Canada, “standard power operation for indoor and outdoor devices (using AFC)” is not permitted within the EU, the report adds.