August 6, 2020
Want even more capacity and speed on your Wi-Fi network? Tony Testa provides insights on how Wi-Fi 6E will bring it. This month Tony continues his Wi-Fi Tech and Trends blog series with practical advice on designing products for Wi-Fi 6E and unlocking the full potential of this new high-frequency standard.
Wi-Fi 6E will offer the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 – including higher performance, low latency, and faster data rates, but will extend Wi-Fi 6 into the6 GHz realm.
This additional spectrum availability has been referred to as a “tsunami,” or “explosive,” and “monumental” addition since Wi-Fi spectrum first became available more than 20 years ago. The 6 GHz Wi-Fi 6E spectrum offers non-overlapping channels, which more than doubles the capacity of current Wi-Fi 6 spectrum. For Wi-Fi 6E, the Wi-Fi Alliance allows for 14, 80 MHz channels and 7, 160 MHz channels (i.e. frequency range 5925 to 7125 MHz).
The higher we go in frequency, the more difficult it becomes for RF front-end designers. Insertion losses increase and new interference bands come into play. For example, a longer lead or trace width length can create large performance problems like a decrease in system range. Additionally, parameters like Gain tend to decrease or roll-off faster in the higher frequency range. These are just a few of the challenges designers face. However, as we are working through some of these issues with our customers, many are mitigated by using our small, optimized front-end modules. The more we do to provide fully optimized RF front-end solutions, the less customers need to spend on expensive discrete component installs, testing, reworking and tuning.
Since Wi-Fi 6E is a new higher frequency spectrum, legacy components that support prior 802.11 standards (Wi-Fi 5, 4 or prior) will not support Wi-Fi 6E. However, previous Wi-Fi 6 devices will support Wi-Fi 6E.
In October of 2018, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed offering the 6 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi. This spectrum was then approved for Wi-Fi 6E in April 2020. As of July 2020, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E have not been finalized and standard ratification is expected in December 2020. Products with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities are anticipated to roll out in mid-2020. In most cases, existing Wi-Fi 6 routers and clients will be able to support it via firmware and driver updates.
The Wi-Fi 6E standard will boost performance and latency while in signal range. It will also use MIMO and open spectrum to overcome the inherent range challenges in the high-frequency channels, ensuring full home or building coverage. Thus, providing optimal throughput/capacity.
Wi-Fi 6E is a Wi-Fi 6 standard implementation. This new 6 GHz spectrum will work similarly to enhance and expand Wi-Fi 6 over the 5 GHz band by offering additional non-overlapping channels. These additional channels will reduce congestion – especially in areas where several networks are operating simultaneously. Wi-Fi 6E will bring an additional 7 channels, each with 160 MHz of bandwidth. It will boost performance and reduce latency while in range. But, as with other high frequency ranges, it will still struggle on the distance and obstacle signal attenuation it can transmit and receive - unlike the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi channel range.
For some time now, Qorvo has supplied product samples, reference platforms, and prototyping to help establish compliance metrics for the new Wi-Fi 6E standard. Qorvo’s parts are fully functioning Wi-Fi 6 and 6E RF Front-End modules to help customers get to market faster with end-product solutions.
We are driving our designers to create broad bandwidth solutions for customer RF architecture flexibility. We are also creating fully functioning designs to help solve all the new Wi-Fi 6E challenges, some of which were mentioned earlier.
Qorvo’s Wi-Fi 6 and 6E product designs are differentiated by their high level of integration as our unique semiconductor technology also optimizes power amplifier (PA) power consumption while maintaining the highest linear output power on the market. This high linearity also drives PA throughput and RF range, which is a must have in end-product Wi-Fi designs. Qorvo is also able to integrate its filter technology in package to help reduce system harmonics and coexistence. Moreover, these products are fully matched, removing the need for customers to do extensive matching at the end-product level.
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are on the cusp of final regulatory approval – scheduled for December 2020 in the United States. This means final consumer product will precede this ratification. Qorvo is ready. We have developed Wi-Fi 6 and 6E solutions that will meet the new standard through our involvement with global regulatory agencies and customers to help align products to the new ecosystem of Wi-Fi 6E.
Have another topic that you would like Qorvo experts to cover? Email your suggestions to the Qorvo Blog team and it could be featured in an upcoming post. Please include your contact information in the body of the email.