WiFi 6 VS WiFi 6E – Improving Beyond Limits

Oct 22, 2021  by Toktabek, Tim

You’re probably becoming more aware of WiFi 6 and considering replacing your current devices with the ones that support the latest WiFi standard. In 2020, not so long after the release of WiFi6, The WiFi Alliance announced the next big improvement to WiFi technology – WiFi 6E. Although WiFi 6E appears to be an incremental update to WiFi 6, only a few know the differences between the two latest and greatest wireless standards. The main one is, of course, operating in the 6 GHz band, which offers a significant increase in speed and less interference compared to WiFi 6.


WiFi 6: Recap

WiFi 6 brought several improvements to wireless performance compared to its former counterpart, WiFi 5. We have covered WiFi 6 extensively in our blogs – you can read more about this technology in our articles: Wi-Fi 6 – The New Generation of Wi-Fi. By the way, our latest WiFi 6 router was awarded Networking Product of the Year by CTA Tech, so we know how to deliver great WiFi.

To quickly recap, WiFi 6 vs WiFi 5 improvements include:

  • Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing Access (OFDMA) enables routers and devices to use bandwidth more efficiently by reducing the time between data transmissions. The result is more bandwidth available for other devices.
     What is OFDMA | Mercku WiFi

To provide an analogy, imagine your WiFi network like a highway with cargo trucks that are carrying information to their final destination, your devices. Traditionally, the trucks would carry data for one individual device, requiring more trucks to move multiple files at once. With OFDMA, your access point is now able to pack data into the trucks more efficiently, allowing the trucks to serve multiple destinations at once. This dramatically improves the efficiency of data transmission.

  • Target Wake Time (TWT) extends battery life for mobile and smart home devices. Devices supporting this feature enter a sleep state until their scheduled wake time, reducing energy consumption and bandwidth use.
  • High-bandwidth traffic efficiency with eight streams Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO). This technology enables your router to communicate with several devices simultaneously. WiFi 6 also allows 8×8 access points to use all eight streams to transmit data.
  • Higher-order modulation (1024-QAM) increases the efficiency and speed of data transmission on a network. This technology can provide up to a 25% improvement in speed.

WiFi 6E

WiFi 6E is identical to WiFi 6 with an addition of “E,” which stands for “Extended”, which makes an addition to the number of the usable wireless bands – the 6 GHz band. So simply put, WiFi 6E means WiFi 6 extended to the 6 GHz band. Therefore, WiFi 6E operates in 2.4GHz, 5 GHz and now the 6Ghz bands. Because of this, a device using WiFi 6E has a much broader spectrum to work with, which means more channels resulting in less interference from other devices.


What WiFi 6E brings to the table

WiFi 6E builds on the WiFi features mentioned above. It uses a dedicated 6E spectrum with up to 7 additional 160 MHz channels while WiFi 6 devices share its range with the legacy WiFi 4 and 5 and only 2 160 MHz channels. As mentioned earlier, there’s a broader spectrum for WiFi service with more available channels and less overlap in network crowded areas like workplaces or apartment buildings. For a more technical explanation of the improvements of WiFi 6Ghz in our blog: Why you should be excited about 6 GHz WiFi.


  • The 6 GHz band supports almost twice as many high-bandwidth (80 GHz, 160MHz) channels as 5 GHz. For the tech geeks, this means more available high-bandwidth channels that bring more capacity for applications like 4K and 8K streaming, virtual reality gaming, and high-definition video conferencing.WiFi 6 vs WiFi 5 vs WiFi 2.4
  • No DFS scanning is required because, unlike 160MHz channels in the 5 GHz wireless band, devices operating in 6 GHz don’t share the spectrum with radar devices or TV stations. As a result, people who cannot take advantage of 160MHz channels because they live near airports or TV stations can benefit from the additional vacant 160MHz channels.


  • There are no legacy (WiFi 3/4/5/6) devices on the 6 GHz band, and it is only exclusive to WiFi 6E devices. 6 GHz networks don’t need to slow down to accommodate older devices. As a result, WiFi 6E devices can take full advantage of the bandwidth, spectrum, and speed improvements of 6 GHz without competing with any non-6E devices.


However, WiFi 6E is not backward compatible, unlike most WiFi generations. 6E will only support 802.11ax and will drop 802.11a/b/g/n/ac devices entirely.


  • Mandatory WiFi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) is compulsory for all WiFi 6 Certified devices operating in 6 GHz. WPA3 is the latest WiFi Alliance security certification. WPA3 provides the latest in security and authentication protocols. Simply put, a device using WiFi 6E will be the hardest to hack. Check out our blog to learn more about the security benefits of WPA3: What you need to know about WPA3.


  • The 6 GHz band has a shorter range than the 5 GHz band. This means that a higher density of WiFi 6 devices is required for complete 6 GHz coverage than the number of devices needed to use WiFi 5.


  • WiFi 6E also benefits from not requiring a dynamic frequency selection channel, meaning it won’t suffer from interference caused by radar devices or TV stations.


WiFi 6E Quiets the Noise Floor

A major challenge of WiFi 6 was the problem of not having effective communication with the access point (due to the additional noise floor created because of increasing bandwidth on a broad spectrum).

However, this problem is solved with WiFi 6E as it arrives with power spectral density. Power spectral density increases power limits as channel width (and the noise floor) increases. Therefore, since the power increase can keep up with the channel width and noise floor, this removes the additional noise created from wider channels.


WiFi 6 & 6E – Hidden Potential Soon to Be Released

Opening the 6 GHz band will change the game for WiFi 6, and WiFi technology in general. The Verge has put together a great article that describes the broader context and implications of this innovation in their article Wi-Fi is getting its biggest upgrade in 20 years. WiFi 6 brings upgraded performance in network efficiency and capacity, but the advantages of WiFi 6 remain dormant as it still competes with its former, more well-established predecessor, WiFi 5.

WiFi 6 is the next-generation standard in WiFi technology built in response to the growing number of devices in the world. If you own a VR device, multiple smart home devices, have a large number of devices in your household, or you live in a populated area, then a WiFi 6 router like the Mercku M6 might just be the right choice for you.


Want to learn more about WiFi? Our team of experts has put together an eBook that explores the past, present and future of WiFi! Read our WiFi: The Definitive Guide eBook for ultimate WiFi mastery.

For more information about Mercku’s Connectivity Suite, our hardware and how you can partner with Mercku, please reach out to the team at connect@mercku.com.

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