Posted by Babar Hashim, July 19, 2022
Did You Know...? Wi-Fi 6E Frequently Asked Questions
Despite the pandemic, the sprint from wires to Wi-Fi has continued at a breakneck pace -- and with good reason. As organizations accelerate their transition to the cloud, increase their use of bandwidth-devouring video, and are incorporating an ever-increasing number of devices, the demand for Wi-Fi connectivity has reached a whole new level.
The emergence of latency-critical applications such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) only adds to this. This means that ultimately, wireless networks will at some point become oversubscribed, leading to sub-par application performance.
The latest networking development, Wi-Fi 6E, is widely regarded as the solution for this, promising to make Wi-Fi technology faster and more powerful than ever before.
Ever since Silex has released its first Wi-Fi 6E embedded module, the SX-PCEAX, we have had many conversations on this technology with our customers. Some of the most frequently asked questions and discussion points are below. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
What does Qualcomm think about the transition of Wi-Fi 6E to Wi-Fi 7 as excitement is gaining around Wi-Fi 7 advanced features?
This question came up in a recent joint Webinar we held with Qualcomm. One of the proposed features for the Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) standard is high-band simultaneous multi-link, which offers direct enhancements over Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), promising even faster speeds and higher throughput. A Wi-Fi 7 device would be able to use each band as it becomes available and can operate on both simultaneously, aggregating throughput across both. As it can operate simultaneously on each band, it is even better at avoiding congestion to lower latency.
In summary, Wi-Fi 7 can be the best solution for throughput and latency but with a high cost for a high band simultaneous to achieve it (5+ 6G co-existence). On the other hand, Wi-Fi 6E is good running in 6GHz w/o much cost adder compared to Wi-Fi 6. So, customers can choose a better solution as Wi-Fi 6E or the best solution as Wi-Fi 7.
Could you share Wi-Fi 6E product information, including the product roadmap?
Please refer to our SX-PCEAX product page for product information and specifications on our Wi-Fi 6E module that is available now. SX-PCEAX is our first of many modules in this space. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about our future plans and roadmap as we look to expand our portfolio in this space.
What about Wi-Fi 6E and 5G integration?
New generations of cellular and wireless LAN technologies, 5G and Wi-Fi 6E, leverage similar technical methodologies to provide high-end user experiences. With OFDMA and MU-MIMO, both technologies are powering gigabit speeds and quicker response times for users. The biggest difference is that Wi-Fi 6E operates in an unlicensed spectrum, while 5G being deployed today, called 5G New Radio (5G NR), requires a licensed spectrum.
Businesses have leveraged multiple technologies in the past and we believe that the industry will use both 5G and Wi-Fi 6E in much the same way. The new higher frequency deployment options will require more radios and access points to cover the same areas, as the higher frequency signals do not provide the same coverage as lower frequency equipment. Wi-Fi 6E is a cost-effective solution for networks and provides high bandwidth connectivity, but it does not guarantee the first-time successful delivery of data.
Wi-Fi 6E is a good option for high-bandwidth networks that can endure some latency caused by retransmitting packets through the network. Wi-Fi 6E is undoubtedly an excellent indoor option for use cases that need best-effort connectivity, many of today’s applications have strict latency requirements that may demand tightly managed quality of service levels which may be available with 5G.
How will Wi-Fi 6E improve the experience of VoWi-Fi?
The new generation of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6E, is designed for indoor, high-density wireless and is pre-eminently well suited for telephony with its reliance on OFDMA to deliver consistent, low latency, and predictable performance. Both the US and the UK have opened up 6 GHz spectrum to Wi-Fi. This will change the game for Wi-Fi calling.
What is the difference between Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 6?
We believe that Wi-Fi 6E makes an already good Wi-Fi 6 technology better. To learn the benefits of Wi-Fi 6E and why we believe its better than Wi-Fi 6 please refer to our white paper.
What’s the cost gap between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E solutions from a module point of view?
The cost gap from the BOM perspective is not significant between Wi-Fi 6 and 6E to support 6GHz in 6E solutions.
How can you integrate Wi-Fi 6E with 60Ghz?
These are two different wireless technologies, 802.11ax and 802.11ad, that operate in completely two different frequency bands (6GHz and 60Ghz) and don’t overlap. Therefore, the two do not integrate but can co-exist with one another. They will have their own separate networks.
In terms of speed, how do Wi-Fi 6E and 60Ghz compare?
If you are looking at speed and speed alone, 802.11ad or 60GHz wireless is much faster. While the 802.11ad standard seeks to deliver incredibly fast Wi-Fi speeds over a short distance, the 802.11ax standard serves as the speedier successor to the more versatile 802.11ac. It will also maintain backward compatibility, something 802.11ad won’t offer. 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6E, continues the trend of offering faster speeds but the focus is on delivering a fast connection to every device in every corner of your network and improving your overall Wi-Fi experience.
Does Wi-Fi 6 have any provision for wireless video?
OFDMA introduced in Wi-Fi 6 makes it ideal for video streaming applications. It is a key feature that increases overall network efficiency to allow several devices with various bandwidth requirements to connect to your Wi-Fi and stream video efficiently. The number of antennas also can impact the overall bandwidth. SX-PCEAX is a 2x2 module with throughputs over 2Gbps, which makes it suitable for many video applications.
Does SX-PCEAX support monitor mode?
Yes, SX-PCEAX supports monitor mode. Monitor mode is a data capture mode that allows using a Wi-Fi adapter in listening mode or promiscuous mode. Operating in this mode, Wi-Fi modules are able to capture all types of Wi-Fi Management packets (including Beacon packets), Data packets and Control packets.
What impact does using Wi-Fi 6E have on range?
Wi-Fi range questions are always tricky because there are so many variables: the attenuation of walls, free space path loss, AP transmit power, Wi-Fi clients’ receive sensitivity capabilities, etc. Purely in terms of physics, yes, higher frequency does have an impact on range. The bottom line is that the effective range difference between 6 GHz and 5 GHz will not be a serious concern in most indoor Wi-Fi deployments. Current, high-density indoor deployments have already been designed for capacity as opposed to coverage. Of course, the effective range difference between 6 GHz and 5 GHz may have a more significant impact in some verticals, for example, a warehouse environment.
The Host interface for Wi-Fi is PCIe3.0. Can the device work with a PCIe2.0 Host too?
It will work but is not truly backward compatible. It will work with limited throughput. The base driver is set up to use PCIe 3.0, so driver config modification is required to make this work.
Does SX-PCEAX support AP and STA simultaneous operation? Do they operate in the same band or different bands?
Yes, SX-PCEAX can support concurrent AP and STA operations. Customers can use this module to operate in AP and STA mode at the same time. The module leverages the Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) feature from Qualcomm, so the AP and STA will be operating in two different bands or frequencies.
Does AP and STA share the same antenna? Or would use different antennas - one for AP and another for STA.
Different antennas will be used to support concurrent AP /STA operation.
Does the SX-PCEAX require any additional certification after integration?
SX-PCEAX has modular certifications for FCC/IC (North America), CE (Europe) and MIC (Japan). That means that customers using SX-PCEAX do not require any regulatory testing (if they use our module with our certified antennas) for the radio for these particular regions. If you have your own antenna that you wish to use please discuss it with Silex so we can make sure if it can be covered by our certifications.
The customer may need to file for the product level certification, but nothing is required for the Silex module. At Silex, we provide our customers with our certification services to save them time. We have relationships with the regulatory labs and can easily assist in getting products certified and manage the whole process which could be cumbersome. We have a white paper that you can refer to learn what is required to get through regulatory certifications. Also, if you wish to sell your product in countries not covered by our modular certification, we can help you get the required testing and approvals so you can sell your products in those particular countries like China, Brazil, Korea etc.