Today we all know Wi-Fi networks widely, since today there is a very large trend towards wireless Internet connections. We have surely heard of the 2.4 GHz frequency band and the 5 GHz frequency band, previously known as WiFi N and WiFi AC, since in 2018 the WiFi Alliance decided to change these names to a simpler nomenclature , Wi-Fi 4, Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6. Today we are going to explain in more detail the new member of the family, the 6 GHz frequency band that introduces the new Wi-Fi 6E standard, as well as all the characteristics of the whole family.
With the increase in speed requirements, there was a great improvement in the standard and Wi-Fi 5 was launched that used only the 5GHz band to communicate with the different devices. Years later, the wireless standard was further improved allowing greater capacity and efficiency, while the theoretical performance of the WiFi network was increased a little more, which led to the emergence of Wi-Fi 6 . This new standard makes use of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network at the same time, with this we manage to take advantage of the strengths of both, the coverage of the 2.4 GHz network which is greater than that of 5 GHz, and the speed of the 5 GHz network, which is much higher than that of the 2.4 GHz network.
The Wi-Fi 6E was born from the need to connect a large number of devices with Internet access to the WiFi network. The novelty that the Wi-Fi 6E standard introduces is that it adds the 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi 6. Until now we had the Wi-Fi 4 that could take advantage of the 2.4 GHz or 5GHz band , although it has almost always been used WiFi 4 on the 2.4GHz band, but it is true that there were selectable dual-band and simultaneous dual-band routers with Wi-Fi 4 broadcasting on the 5GHz band.
To understand why we need a new band of WiFi frequencies, we are going to explain the characteristics of all of them. We are going to use an image as a reference so that we can quickly understand how the bands are distributed between the frequencies and how many channels we have in each band:
2.4 GHz band: more coverage, but less speed
This band is the oldest of all, all routers on the market incorporate it, it goes from 2,412 MHz to 2,472 MHz, it is subdivided into 13 channels each of 20 MHz which overlap each other as we can see in the picture. Subsequently, channel 14 was added, which was quite far from the frequency spectrum of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, and not all devices were compatible with this channel that operated at 2.484 MHz, reaching up to 2.495 MHz, and only overlapping with the channel 12 and 13, was a measure that was used to avoid the oversaturation that this band presented very early.
The channel list would be as follows:
As you can see the closer we get to the center of the spectrum, the more channels overlap each other.
The 2.4 GHz frequency band is used by the Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 6 standards . It has 3 channels of 20MHz or 1 single channel of 40 MHz , in this case, a part of the frequency spectrum assigned to this band would remain free if our router only selected the use of the 40 MHz channel, but this would not affect our Connection.
This band is one of the most used today, it has a high compatibility with devices, since all WiFi devices today have access to the 2.4 GHz band , while many of them are not compatible with the 5 GHz band The most economical devices will adhere to the use of this band, at the time of their manufacture it is more economical to manufacture them with compatibility for 2.4 GHz and excluding the other bands. On the other hand, this is the band with the most saturation by far. Many devices work on the same frequency as this Wi-Fi frequency band, devices such as wireless keyboards and mice, television controls or cordless phones share this frequency, it does not mean that they share technology, that is, that they work over Wi-Fi. ButIf a device works in 2.4 GHz, no matter how much Wi-Fi or other radio frequency technology, they will share the same air and some connections will overlap each other.
Advantages and disadvantages of the 2.4 GHz band
- Its coverage is very extensive
- It has a high penetrating power
- Compatibility with all devices on the market
- Low speed
- Is very saturated
5GHz frequency band: high speed, low coverage
The 5 GHz band is used by the Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 standards, it is between the 5180 MHz and 5825 MHz of the Wi-Fi frequency spectrum. It has the clear improvement of 160 MHz channels, even if they are only two 160 MHz channels for this frequency band, they incredibly improve the Wi-Fi connection by having twice the real and theoretical speed. It also incorporates, compared to its predecessor, 80 MHz channels, which also help a lot to release congestion in a Wi-Fi network while providing us with very good WiFi speed. It is a band that supports 25 channels of 20 MHz, 12 channels of 40 MHz, 6 channels of 80 MHz and 2 channels of 160 MHz.
Based on this table we are going to explain the four groups of channels (within this band there are more groups of channels, it is the region that determines which groups of channels we can use and which groups of channels are restricted to it), the low channels or UNII-1 , channels UNII-2A, the DFS or UNII 2C-channels and UNII-3 channel or channels high .
U-NII-1 channels or low channels
They are channels 36 to 48, they are channels with a bandwidth of 20 MHz, 40MHz or 80MHz, they are at the beginning of the spectrum of the 5 GHz band and are called “low” channels because they are the lowest frequency channels within of the 5GHz band.
They are channels 56 to 64, they are also channels of 20 MHz, 40MHz and 80MHz of bandwidth, we can use them, but they are under two restriction protocols, the DFS or Dynamic Frequency Selection (Dynamic Frequency Selector) and the TPC or Transmission Power Control. The IEEE 802.11 standard allows devices such as routers and access points to share the 5 GHz radio frequency spectrum with radar. Radar signals are vulnerable to interference from other devices using the same spectrum.
The DFS function allows a router or access point to detect radar signals, and change its operating frequency to avoid interference. This process ensures that radar systems can send and receive accurate information. The TPC will automatically adjust the channel and the output power of the router so as not to interfere with military signals from radar, etc.
If we join the U-NII-1 and U-NII-2A channels we can use channel widths of 160MHz, specifically we will have a single channel of 160MHz of bandwidth for the routers.
Channels U-NII 2C
They are the channels that go from 100 to 140, also with a bandwidth of 20, 40 and 80 MHz, and with the same restrictions as the previous ones. They are separated from the U-NNI.2A because in other regions these frequencies cannot be used, however, in Europe we can enjoy these channels without problems, with the aforementioned restrictions, but without problems of use for indoor and outdoor environments.
In this frequency band we also have a channel with 160MHz channel width, ideal to achieve the best wireless performance.
Channels U-NII- 3 or high channels
They are the channels that go from 149 to 165, they are channels of 20, 40 and 80 MHz without any type of restriction and they are called high channels because they are the channels that use the highest frequencies within the 5 GHz band.
Here we can see the table of channels distributed by regions to better understand all their zone restrictions:
As you can see, in Europe we cannot use a good part of the frequency spectrum within the 5 GHz band, but at least we are much less restricted than other regions.
Advantages and disadvantages of the 5 GHz band
- Its speed is very high.
- As they have a lot of bandwidth, the devices do not usually overlap
- Compatibility with most devices, as long as they are at least Wi-Fi 4.
- Low coverage
- Low penetration power
6GHz frequency band: new frequency band
Wi-Fi 6 is not the use of the 6 GHz band , but the use of the 2.4 GHz band and the 5 GHz band in order to take advantage of both , the 2.4 GHz band has a greater coverage, and the 5 GHz band has a higher speed.
The change that occurs with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6E, which adds the 6 GHz band to Wi-Fi 6. Actually, the spectrum of Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 ends at the same point, the 5,925 GHz. From what we can say that the 6 GHz band was not covered, which we will do with Wi-Fi 6E, since we will reach 7.125 GHz.
Wi-Fi 6E adds 1.2 GHz of bandwidth to the spectrum of available Wi-Fi frequencies. With this, we will gain 14 more channels of 80 MHz, or 7 extra channels of 160 MHz depending on how the router manages the connection . This is the change that this new standard brings with it, it must be borne in mind that until now we only had two 160 MHz channels, these channels being so wide, help to increase the real speed of compatible wireless clients, and to be able to manage the connection of a multitude of devices without the network being degraded, so by expanding the number of these WiFi channels we will be able to drastically improve our connection without routers and APs interfering with each other.
We are not going to focus on speed yet since most Wi-Fi problems are due to network congestion, there are too many devices connected on the same frequency (whether or not they are from connections you own, since all Wi-Fi connections -Fi share the same air) and some have to wait while the others are working. Wi-Fi 6E helps in this regard, as it offers routers a wider frequency band so that there are no overlapping connections.
When it comes to speed, the Wi-Fi 6E offers a theoretical performance increase of up to 30%. Being a higher frequency, with this comes a reduction in coverage as standard, the 2.4 GHz band offers greater coverage than the rest, but when managing them together, Wi-Fi 6 can give our device greater coverage by taking advantage of the network. 2.4 GHz if the device needs it. The weak point is that, being a “high” frequency band, it has little penetration capacity, so that, although the theoretical speed tells us that we will achieve an increase of 30%, if we have walls in between we will see how that speed it is diminished by this cause.
Among its characteristics are the new multiplexing methods. MU-MIMO will allow us to send information to several clients concurrently and OFDMA will allow us to divide a transmission into different frequencies within the same channel. All these characteristics together give our connection a very high versatility that will be able to take full advantage of a Wi-Fi connection to make it as efficient as possible.
Wi-Fi 6E, this standard is the one that introduces the 6 GHz band to the Wi-Fi connection spectrum. With Wi-Fi 6E we will have 59 channels of 20 MHz, 29 channels of 40 MHz, 15 of 80 MHz and 7 of 160 MHz. Wi-Fi 6E is the most modern standard in Wi-Fi connections and many of the devices still do not They are compatible with this new standard as they are not compatible with the 6GHz band. Most of the devices that are currently on the market are already compatible with this connection. It has a clear improvement over its predecessors, and is specially designed to be able to manage a multitude of devices without the connection being degraded at all.
What frequency band should I connect to?
Now we have to review what our needs are to see what is the best decision for us.
If we have few devices, they are old and we hardly use them, we will be able to work with a 2.4 GHz network without problem. Although if, on the other hand, in our home or office there are a multitude of devices, whether they are home automation, mobile telephony or wireless equipment of another type, we must choose the best option, clearly, a router that can manage Wi-Fi 6 or Wi -Fi 6E.
We will also have to take into account where we live, if it is a block with a multitude of neighbors in which each one has its own connection to a dual-band router, it is very likely that, if we connect devices to the 2.4 GHz network, we will have problems from the minute one. Today, operators already offer more or less decent routers, but if for reasons like the ones we live in today, you have to work more at home or you need your wireless network to perform better, we recommend you get your own router, do not skimp on this expense as it is an investment to improve your local wired and home network and will provide you with a great user experience.