ABI: 6 GHz band essential amid growing WiFi demand

April 30, 2020
ABI Research forecasts that WiFi-enabled devices are set to increase from 3.3 billion annual unit shipments in 2019 to more than 4.6 billion by 2024, a growth that underscores ...

ABI Research forecasts that WiFi-enabled devices are set to increase from 3.3 billion annual unit shipments in 2019 to more than 4.6 billion by 2024, a growth that underscores the need for a more robust WiFi network.

ABI believes that while the growing reach of WiFi will be driven by several advancements, such as WiFi 6 and WiFi's expansion into the 60 GHz and sub-1 GHz bands through WiGig and HaLow, the most exciting, and potentially transformative, change to the WiFi landscape is the anticipated availability of 6 GHz spectrum over the next few years.

"It is hard to overstate the potential that 6 GHz and WiFi 6E can bring to WiFi networks," said Andrew Zignani, principal analyst, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Wireless Connectivity at ABI Research.

Currently, WiFi faces several challenges. Key among them are the growing demands being placed on WiFi networks, leading to increased congestion, performance limitations, and reduced quality of service (QoS). Most WiFi devices are using increasing amounts of data per device, including streaming high-resolution music and videos, video calling, application and firmware updates, digital downloads, social networking, data-heavy web content, and online gaming, among others.

"The tremendous surge in active WiFi devices at home in recent months and the resulting increase in traffic due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have reaffirmed WiFi as a vital utility, acutely demonstrating both its importance and limitations," Zignani said. "On April 23, 2020, the FCC voted to make additional spectrum in the 6 GHz band available for WiFi, with other regions expected to follow suit in the not too distant future. Once the global regulatory landscape for 6 GHz is finalized, the technology will bring about much higher throughput, much more capacity, greater reliability, lower latency, and better QoS than ever before."

6 GHz not only brings about additional spectrum and higher throughputs, but essentially guarantees access to channels with no legacy, resulting in a corresponding improvement in latency and simplifying channel access, ABI says. WiFi 6E takes full advantage of what WiFi 6 has to offer and can open new opportunities for WiFi to better support 5G-class services reliant on high multi-gigabit throughput, low latency, high efficiency, broader coverage, and better mobility.

There are still challenges ahead.

"Perhaps the largest current barrier to 6 GHz adoption is still the need to iron out various regulatory challenges and obstacles across different regions," Zignani said.

Limited chipset availability, cost of supporting the technology, building out the 6 GHz ecosystem, and proximity to WiFi 6 rollout are hurdles. However, ABI anticipates that most of those challenges will be overcome and that opening the 6 GHz band for WiFi will address many of the challenges it is facing today and in the next decade.        

Sponsored Recommendations

Coherent Routing and Optical Transport – Getting Under the Covers

April 11, 2024
Join us as we delve into the symbiotic relationship between IPoDWDM and cutting-edge optical transport innovations, revolutionizing the landscape of data transmission.

Data Center Network Advances

April 2, 2024
Lightwave’s latest on-topic eBook, which AFL and Henkel sponsor, will address advances in data center technology. The eBook looks at various topics, ranging...

Supporting 5G with Fiber

April 12, 2023
Network operators continue their 5G coverage expansion – which means they also continue to roll out fiber to support such initiatives. The articles in this Lightwave On ...

FTTx Deployment Strategies

March 29, 2023
Cable operators continue to deploy fiber in their networks at anincreasing rate. As fiber grows in importance, proper choices regardinghow to best fit fiber to the home together...