We already know all the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E / 6 GHz networking. So how do we get there? What will it take for the world to switch to 6 GHz?
Let's take stock of what we know about 6 GHz:
- 6 GHz path loss is higher - signal degrades more at same distances than 5 GHz
- Cell size is smaller than on 5 GHz at same power level configuration
- Absorption/reflectance - 6 GHz will behave differently traveling through materials than 5 GHz
Cisco did a lot of testing and investigation into 6 GHz and how it performs and behaves in enterprise environments in direct comparison to 5 GHz radios. They specifically wanted to know whether or not a 6 GHz network environment could be deployed through a one-for-one replacement of 5 GHz APs in an existing environment. The answer, surprisingly, is yes (with some caveats).
Assuming an enterprise environment where APs are placed at a density between 1200 -2000 ft^2 in a typical, carpeted office space with 10ft ceilings, a Wi-Fi 6 / 5 GHz AP can be swapped out with a Wi-Fi 6E / 6 GHz AP and achieve roughly the same coverage with greater capacity. What does this mean? Why does it matter? It matters because swapping out APs is far easier than redesigning an entire network plan. If all it takes for organizations to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E is to swap out APs, that could mean a high adoption rate for 6 GHz wi-fi.
This is only the beginning of transition to Wi-Fi 6E. We will continue to learn more over the coming months.
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