Is 5 GHz Wi-Fi Lifeless?

Is 5 GHz Wi-Fi Dead?

With the appearance of 6 GHz Wi-Fi, I’ve been requested if the legacy frequency bands of two.4 and 5 GHz are on the highway to retirement. Will 6 GHz successfully be the loss of life of the older bands? I’ll reply this query, however first, let’s focus on the importance of varied generations of Wi-Fi.

Lately, whereas speaking with clients, companions, and colleagues, there nonetheless appears to be a number of confusion concerning the current and future generations of Wi-Fi know-how. In equity, this may immediately end result from what I generally consult with as “replace fatigue,” and I’m sympathetic.

Versus mobile know-how, the place new generations debut on a mean 10-year cycle, a brand new era of Wi-Fi debuts each 4-5 years. Because of this the whole Wi-Fi trade markets and sells to each shoppers and the enterprise on the identical timeline. So, I can perceive why even enterprise companies may generally be overwhelmed when they should ponder an infrastructure improve with the identical cadence.

Do you keep in mind your first Wi-Fi expertise? My guess is that most individuals first started utilizing Wi-Fi with the early era of 802.11b know-how with blazing speeds of 11 Mbps with solely three 2.4 GHz channels obtainable. Every era of Wi-Fi gives new options and capabilities to boost throughput, effectivity, latency, and so forth. Nonetheless, in my thoughts, two main Wi-Fi inflection factors align with two particular generations of Wi-Fi.

The primary main Wi-Fi paradigm shift was the introduction of 802.11n know-how in 2009. This 4th era of Wi-Fi was vital as a result of we transitioned from single-input, single-output (SISO) radios to multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) radios. A radio frequency phenomenon often called multipath went from being the enemy of Wi-Fi to being helpful. This inflection level spawned a lot greater knowledge charges, higher knowledge resiliency, and a better-quality Wi-Fi person expertise. Throughout the globe, shoppers and the enterprise embraced 802.11n know-how due to all of the true advantages that have been delivered.

The second main Wi-Fi paradigm shift is going on proper now with the rising availability of the 6 GHz frequency band. This era is known as Wi-Fi 6E. As I’ve written in quite a few blogs, Wi-Fi 6E brings us as a lot as 1,200 MHz of latest spectrum within the 6 GHz band. This, my buddies, is a gigantic spectrum bonanza. To place this in perspective, the brand new 6 GHz spectrum obtainable for Wi-Fi is greater than double the usable channels of the two.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels mixed. So successfully, it triples the obtainable unlicensed spectrum obtainable for Wi-Fi.

Now again to the generational confusion. In August 2019, the Wi-Fi Alliance started certifying 802.11ax know-how in August 2019 with a brand new certification known as Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6, often known as Wi-Fi 6 or the sixth era. Wi-Fi 6 launched 802.11ax effectivity enhancements to the two.4 and 5 GHz frequency bands. The place the confusion actually begins is with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6E. In late 2020, the Wi-Fi Alliance introduced Wi-Fi 6E as an “extension” for certifying the 802.11ax options and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 to the 6 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6E is the trade advertising title that identifies Wi-Fi gadgets that function in 6 GHz.

So, the place am I going with this dialogue? I believe many individuals view Wi-Fi 6E as a “minor replace” of the 6th era of Wi-Fi and don’t perceive the worth. In any case, Wi-Fi 6E was launched simply 16 months after Wi-Fi 6, so it should not be that massive a deal. Nothing could possibly be farther from the reality, in truth, as I wrote earlier, Wi-Fi 6E is the second main Wi-Fi paradigm shift taking place proper now with the rising availability of the 6 GHz frequency band.

As I mentioned on this video, I believe we generally get too caught up with the brand new “bells and whistles” of varied generations of Wi-Fi. It’s not all the time about options and updates, and probably the most vital factor taking place in Wi-Fi proper now’s that it’s all concerning the 6 GHz spectrum. Wi-Fi 6 launched some nice new effectivity options, however the actual worth is when these new options prosper in 6 GHz.

Now let’s examine this to generations of smartphones. Yearly, Samsung, Google, Apple, and different corporations debut their newest era of smartphones with a lot fanfare and hoopla. This week Apple introduced the brand new iPhone 14, and far to the frustration of many, the brand new smartphones don’t but have a 6 GHz radio for Wi-Fi. So why does the brand new iPhone 14 not have 6 GHz? I’ve heard a number of hypothesis, however I can promise they’ll ultimately be a part of the 6 GHz celebration.

Wi-Fi 6E consumer gadgets with 6 GHz capabilities started to trickle into {the marketplace} in 2021. And in line with Claus Hetting of Wi-Fi Now, we have now just lately seen an explosion of obtainable Wi-Fi 6E consumer gadgets: “Particularly, the variety of PCs launched with Wi-Fi 6E functionality (633) has been spectacular (each laptop computer and desktop variations). At present, 61 smartphone fashions assist Wi-Fi 6E.” In different phrases, 700+ consumer gadgets with 6 GHz radios from the likes of Google, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, and plenty of extra.

I’ve had some current conversations the place massive enterprise clients have been contemplating a Wi-Fi know-how refresh and buying Wi-Fi 6 APs as a substitute of Wi-Fi 6 GHz APs. Wi-Fi 6 has some fantastic know-how, however do not forget that a Wi-Fi 6E refresh brings you 6 GHz now and extra importantly, future-proofs your wi-fi community.

So perhaps (at the least presently) we’re getting too caught up in these generational names for Wi-Fi know-how. Maybe we must always lead all conversations with the phrases, 6 GHz Wi-Fi, as a result of the spectrum is the game-changer.

So as to add additional confusion to this dialog, a number of noise is already being made concerning the future era of Wi-Fi 7, which is solely depending on 6 GHz. I’ll write about a number of the potential Wi-Fi 7 options in future blogs. Within the meantime, consider Wi-Fi 6E because the foundational era of Wi-Fi that gives 6 GHz connectivity. Wi-Fi 7 would be the subsequent era that leverages 6 GHz. As a matter of truth, Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi 8, and different future generations of Wi-Fi can be constructed upon the 6 GHz spectrum basis that has debuted with Wi-Fi 6E.

So again to the unique query…..  is 5 GHz Wi-Fi useless? Please perceive that the legacy spectrum bands used for Wi-Fi usually are not going wherever and are nonetheless purposeful. Whereas 2.4 GHz has successfully develop into a best-effort band reserved for older wi-fi IoT gadgets and legacy Wi-Fi shoppers, 5 GHz will stay a premium band for a few years forward of us. To not point out that 6 GHz Wi-Fi leverages the legacy bands for out-of-band AP discovery. Stories of the loss of life of 5 GHz Wi-Fi have been vastly exaggerated. However 6 GHz is the way forward for Wi-Fi, and the long run has arrived.

Wi-Fi has been round for over 20 years, and the know-how continues to advance whereas remaining the first technique of wi-fi connectivity in our day-to-day lives. And over the subsequent ten years, I count on all types of improvements for brand new wi-fi purposes that can prosper in 6 GHz.


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