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Wi-Fi 6E migration hampered by component shortages likely to accelerate Wi-Fi 7 adoption

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While Wi-Fi 6 has been adopted fairly quickly as many vendors released routers and adapters in 802.11ax trial version, Wi-Fi 6E adoption has been slow due to severe component shortages and new 6 GHz spectrum regulations. . As a result, many business customers can skip 6E and go straight to Wi-Fi 7 in 2023according to a new report Dell’Oro resource.

“While manufacturers released Wi-Fi 6E hardware in mid-2021, products are either not available or in very limited supply,” said Tam Dell’Oro, Wireless LAN Founder, CEO and Analyst.

Wi-Fi 6 delivers 867 Mbps on the 160 MHz band on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, but with tri-band (so-called 3×3 configuration) it reaches 2.54 Gbps. Wi-Fi 6E adds formally unregulated 6GHz+ frequencies to get even more bandwidth when possible, but it requires new components and regulatory restrictions.

6GHz frequency support adds a matching radio frequency interface (RFFE) module with all of its typical chipset support such as a power management IC and a matching physical radio. Unfortunately, the assembly of components required to enable Wi-Fi 6E on both client and host devices is significant, which has slowed the adoption of Wi-Fi 6E by both types of devices.

“Supply constraints have prompted manufacturers to focus on making popular models affordable by redesigning those models with more affordable components,” Dell’Oro said. “Our interviews with system integrators show that users are asking for Wi-Fi 6, not 6E. So if companies have to prioritize their production, Wi-Fi 6 will be the priority.”

Wi-Fi 7 (also known as IEEE 802.be and dubbed Extremely High Throughput (EHT)) adds many features at 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz, delivering even higher throughput than Wi-Fi 6E . Meanwhile, the ratification of the standard is expected at best in early 2024, which, in essence, could mean an adoption scheme similar to Wi-Fi 6 (trial sample, then full). In fact, Dell’Oro is expecting the first products to support Wi-Fi 7 next year.

“With Wi-Fi 7 hardware shipping as early as 2023, we predict users will bypass 6E,” Dell’Oro said.

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