Wi-Fi Standards Continue to Move to Higher Speeds and More Users with Wi-Fi 6, 6E, and 7

Water Tower Research
31 March 2021

Summary

  • All wireless vendors are looking for Wi-Fi 6 to ramp in the next year. These include Arista (Mojo), Cambium Networks (Xirrus), Cisco Systems (Meraki), Extreme Networks (Aerohive), HPE (Aruba), Juniper (Mist), and Ubiquiti. Down the road are even faster standards for Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7.
  • There is enormous potential for the Wi-Fi infrastructure market.  Wi-Fi continues to evolve and looks to remain the dominate Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) protocol standard. The IEEE standard 802.11ac, aka Wi-Fi 5, was introduced back in 2013 and is now being replaced by 802.11ax, aka Wi-Fi 6. While 802.11ac made Wi-Fi faster, 802.11ax attempts to improve performance in denser network situations where there are more devices using each access point. The expectations are that Wi-Fi 6 will be needed for the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Wi-Fi 6E also follows the 802.11ax standard but allows operation at 6 GHz as well as 2.4 and 5 GHz. There are some regulatory issues with 6 GHz, but in April 2020, the US FCC voted to open the 6 GHz band for unlicensed use. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi 6E provides 14 additional 80 MHz channels beyond what is available with Wi-Fi 6.
  • IEEE standard 802.11be, aka Wi-Fi 7 or Wi-Fi Extremely High Throughput (Wi-Fi EHT), is expected to provide more throughput. The plan is to leverage 802.11ax and use the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz bands. Expectations are for a draft standard early this year and a final specification in 2024. The industry expects more efficient utilization of spectrum, multi-band aggregation, multi-AP coordination, enhanced retransmission, and time-sensitive networking (TSN) extensions for real-time traffic.
  • We initiated coverage of the communications equipment sector late last year, launching on Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, and Infinera. We then added Cambium Networks coverage in January.
  • On Thursday, April 8th at 1 pm EDT (10 am PDT), we will be hosting Chris DePuy of 650 Group for a fireside chat on the Wireless LAN market. The event is open to all. Register here.