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wifi 6 vs wifi 6e

WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6E: A Short Guide

Anna-Marie Brittain
Reading time: 7 minutes

The expansion of high-speed internet continues and connectivity options are growing. With more households and small businesses needing access to reliable broadband internet, it won’t be long before the groundwork for a new wireless standard is set.
Whether you’re located in a rural environment or an urban area, most WiFi connectivity has yet to operate at peak capacity.
WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E have become more widely accepted as the next level in internet connectivity. As more wireless services hit the market, so too will users' need for reliable routers, modems, and range extenders. Before investing in all the equipment you need, it’s best to understand how the landscape of internet technology is changing.

What is WiFi 6?

What is WiFi 6
Also known as 802.11ax, WiFi 6 is the current wireless standard that performs well in dense areas, like urban centers and high-population cities. It delivers good data rates, and longer ranges, and allows more people access to higher-speed broadband services. It’s been available since 2019.
WiFi 6 improves on previous WiFi tech by providing more bandwidth so users get new radio channels. It uses MU-MIMO, multi-use, multiple input, and multiple output technology. It also uses OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) technology. Both of which enhance the router’s ability to improve signal traffic between multiple devices.
With WiFi 6, organizations can support new and emerging applications while using the same wireless LAN (WLAN) infrastructure. Even older applications can get integrated into a higher grade of service. An upgrade to WiFi 6 infrastructure will expand individuals' and organizations’ smart building capabilities. Add the Internet of Things (IoT), make the move to more cloud services, and collaborate or interface directly with other professionals, B2B, or clients.

What is WiFi 6E?

WiFi 6E is fairly new, even though it got attention in 2020 and made its specification debut for digital devices in early 2021. Still, it hasn’t been as widely accessible to consumers because compatible WiFi 6E devices have a steeper price range.
WiFi 6E is an upgraded version of WiFi 6 and uses an extended implementation of 802.11ax. It operates on a more powerful wireless spectrum, the 6 GHz (gigahertz) radio-frequency band. This type of broadband internet delivers much faster speeds with less signal interference. Users get faster internet speeds because there’s a wider range of radio channels available. The higher throughput gives 6E the capacity to support more channels between 80 MHz and 160 MHz wide. This translates to enhanced speeds in high-bandwidth applications.
The higher capacity spectrum delivers more non-competing channels and supports denser IT and IoT environments without reducing performance. Less interference means 6E devices won’t have to piggyback on WiFi 4 or 5 devices. WiFi 6E won’t get slowed down by older devices operating on lower data rates. Using only 6E devices helps optimize efficiencies for apps and improves internet performance.

Differences and benefits: WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6E

Differences and benefits of WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6E
The current standard is fast and effective. The demand for network connectivity to reach more people and deliver reliability across the entire workforce is high - moreso as professionals explore various working models outside of the traditional in-office work. For instance, working remotely, work-from-home, and hybrid work requires flexible, scalable, reliable, and secure wireless networks to operate safely and productively.
There are benefits to using WiFi 6 or the extension, 6E. The differences may be a tie-breaker for some. It's good to weigh the pros and cons so you can choose what’s right for your household, workspace, or organization. WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6E differences comes down to three main details, the speeds, range, and router.

WiFi 6 vs 6E differences: speeds and range

The delivery rate per 15 feet is a significant jump between WiFi 6 and 6E. The former has a net speed of 1.146 Gbps. The WiFi 6E delivery rate is 1.788 Gbps, a notable percentage hike in speed. When speaking in terms of range, or distance, 6E will reach larger audiences. Even so, more legacy WiFi devices are compatible with WiFi 6.
Although WiFi 6E creates a faster signal for compatible devices and apps, it’s not capable of backward compatibility. For instance, integrating older standard WiFi devices and applications is possible with WiFi 6, but not 6E. It may take some time before the majority of WiFi-enabled devices are 6E compatible. Until then, the range that WiFi 6 delivers is beneficial for most devices that are likely legacy WiFi 4 or 5 devices.

WiFi 6 vs 6E: router

WiFi 6 has backward compatibility features, which means your current router will be able to operate with the upgrade. For WiFi 6E, it’s best to upgrade your router and related devices to 6E-enabled options. The reasoning behind not making this extension backward compatible was based on the idea that moving toward maximum operating efficiency meant using the most up-to-date tools and devices.

WiFi 6 vs 6E: main benefits

The great thing about the benefits of WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E is that both are capable of delivering high internet speeds, regardless of how many range extenders you use. WiFi 6 is also backward-compatible, helping to build on the existing technologies, and improving overall efficiency. Older applications will work better. It provides improved performance for advanced applications too, such as high-density, high-definition collaboration apps, 4K and 8K video, all-wireless offices, and the IoT.
Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of the 6, but brings faster speeds, lower latency, and more network security. It offers higher capacity with an additional spectrum and no overlapping channels. There’s less interference and it delivers a higher throughput. Operating on a wider bandwidth will help with capacity problems in large spaces. For example, brick-and-mortar spaces, congested venues, stadiums, concert halls, and large, spacious buildings.
With these high-frequency spectrums, data transmission speeds are fast and clear. That means immersive applications, such as virtual learning, or intensive-service care, such as telehealth, will be free of connectivity issues. Even hardcore gamers who focus on augmented reality, like AR/VR (virtual reality), would be able to enjoy their gaming session in real time.

WiFi 6 vs 6E: industry benefits

Educational facilities and businesses across multiple industries will get higher-quality data transmission with WiFi 6 or WiFi 6E. That means optimized digital communications in the education and healthcare niche. Improve experiences in online learning, video conferencing, team meetings, telehealth care appointments, and so on.
Businesses, such as retailers, will have enhanced point-of-sale transactions. Improving interactions by making them more convenient for consumers has a positive impact on customer satisfaction and sales. The manufacturing and warehouse industry will get an enhanced network environment for their IoT devices and sensors, thus optimizing productivity.

WiFi 6 vs WiFi 6E: specifications

WiFi 6 has data bands of 2.4 and 5 GHz. The number of 160 MHz-wide channels available for it is one in the 5 GHz band. WiFi 6 is backward compatible, making it able to support 802.11 (a,b,g,n,ac) devices and applications. It’s able to support former generations, so users won’t have to worry about upgrading every device or piece of equipment.
WiFi 6E also has data bands of 2.4 and 5 GHz, but it offers 6 GHz. Where the 6 offers one channel, the 6E has eight. One channel is in 5 GHz and the other seven are in 6 GHz bands. WiFi 6E will support 802.11ax-only devices and applications.
Improving range and signal strength is important in spacious work environments. Especially if the work relies on consistent network connectivity. That requires reliable equipment like range extenders or mesh WiFi. Both WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E are compatible with mesh WiFi home and business setups.

WiFi 6- and WiFi 6E-supported devices

Make sure you have all the internet and WiFi equipment needed to keep up with all these broadband upgrades. Not every standard router is capable of WiFi 6 or 6E. Although WiFi 6 is backward compatible, it doesn’t hurt to look for upgraded devices. New network equipment will have supportive benefits, such as increased security measures and smoother operation.
If you aren’t sure whether your home or office broadband would benefit from upgrading to WiFi 6 or 6E, check in with your ISP. Most residential and small businesses have broadband speeds of around 50 Mbps, with faster broadband speeds sitting at 1 Gbps. With these speeds, it wouldn’t make a big difference to upgrade your equipment to WiFi 6 or 6E, because you may only reach that 1-gigabit broadband.
WiFi 6E-supported devices, like smartphones, wireless laptops, wearable devices, and IoT sensors, gain high data transmission on a 6 GHz band. Since non-supported legacy devices don’t have access to that bandwidth, the result is faster internet speeds and lower latency.


WiFi 6 became standard in 2019 and has since been reaching wider and wider audiences. It wasn’t long after, in the spring of 2020 that the extension, WiFi 6E hit the stage. Both network connectivity options are integral to optimizing performance and productivity in today’s ever-changing market.
Keeping up with both current events and the workplace is difficult to do without reliable internet connectivity. WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E will have long-term, noticeable benefits for your home, office, or business.
Advancing internet technology continues to impress, so don’t be surprised by the next wave of powerful broadband connectivity options. WiFi 7 might be here sooner than you think. It’s scheduled for release in 2024.

About the Author

Anna-Marie Brittain is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Her experience includes writing for small businesses and non-profit organizations. The various niches she creates content for include emerging technologies, law, health, and nutrition.

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