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Cisco Meraki Documentation

Wi-Fi 6E Frequently Asked Questions

The “E” in Wi-Fi 6E stands for ‘Extended’. Wi-Fi 6E is an extension to Wi-Fi 6 in the 6GHz spectrum. Traditionally Wi-Fi operates in 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum. But now with Wi-Fi 6E, there is an additional frequency spectrum made available to devices that support Wi-Fi 6E. 

This serves two purposes: 

 a. Devices that are newer are capable of Wi-Fi 6E can now operate on an interference-free band to potentially gain higher throughput with lower latency and interference.

 b. Free up spectrums in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency space for legacy client devices to continue to operate and get higher throughput.

c. Wi-Fi 6E will also mandate WPA3 as a security standard. This will help improve the security level of wireless networks running on the 6GHz spectrum by significantly reducing the probability of a DoS Attack.

As simple analogy would be to consider a highway, imagine 7X additional lanes in addition to those lanes being wider - 2x80MHz available in 5GHz band vs 14x80MHz channels in 6E. The default channel width used in the 5GHz band is 20 or 40MHz but with Wi-Fi 6E this can be easily bumped up to 80 and 160MHz. This gives Wi-Fi 6E a benefit over existing Wi-Fi 5 and WiFi 6 deployment. 

It depends on what modes of scanning the client device are using to discover the Wi-Fi 6E networks. There are currently two modes available:

a. Active scanning: In this mode, client devices will scan a list of PSC (Preferred Scanning Channels) These channels are essentially 4 x 20MHz channels apart from each other. With Wi-Fi 6E using 80MHz channels is going to be the new standard and hence client devices will be actively scanning PSC channels first in order to discover the SSID available in 6GHz. It is expected that APs in 6GHz will be using PSC channels. This is the reason in the Radio Settings page in Dashboard a user can select channels in increment of 4 channels at a time in Dashboard for 6GHz configuration.

b. Passive scanning: Some clients will be performing passive scanning in which they will not be probing the network actively, instead configure their radio to a specific channel in 6GHz and passively listen on that channel. Wi-Fi 6E standard allows the APs to transmit mini-beacons at even 20ms intervals. This will reduce wireless airtime and will also save some battery on the client devices.

In some scenarios where the Wi-Fi 6E APs is configured to a non-PSC channel, it may take client devices a really long time to discover the Wi-Fi networks from such APs. As mentioned above, clients will be performing a scan of the PSC channel first and then scanning individual channels, hence it may take a long time for the client to discover the Wi-Fi network on 6GHz. However, in the real-world, majority of the clients will be performing an out-of-band scan using a reduced neighbor report which will provide all the required information of SSIDs on the 6GHz network. This will reduce the wireless network discovery time on the 6GHz spectrum significantly on the client-side.

a. Additional capacity

With the new spectrum being made available, Wi-Fi 6E APs can provide wireless connectivity to client devices on 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz simultaneously. This increases the overall capacity of the wireless network in terms of serving client devices.

b. Reduction in network latency

Using OFDMA, a Wi-Fi network can reduce network latency. Since Wi-Fi 6E uses OFDMA in a brand new wider spectrum in 6GHz space, it reduces the latency significantly. Also, Wi-Fi 6E moves the newer Wi-Fi 6E compliant clients to the 6GHz spectrum, it opens up bandwidth and spectrum for legacy clients. Thus resulting in reduced network latency overall.

c. High throughput

Since Wi-Fi 6E is a new spectrum being made available, client devices that can utilize this spectrum have higher throughput as there is less interference on the 6GHz bands. With the new spectrum, 80MHz channel widths are going to be the norm for 6GHz wireless networks. Even using 160MHz wide channels will become a reality as the new wider spectrum provides adequate channels to design a wireless network. There is also an added advantage with 6GHz, as the standard does not limit the transmit power on the AP as the channel widths are increased. So APs can continue to use the same transmit power irrespective of channel widths configured on the APs.

d. Reduction in interference 

The additional spectrum provides a large number of channels that are available for Wi-Fi 6E APs as well as clients to use. This reduces the interference in the wireless network.

e. Increased TX power

With the introduction of Automated frequency co-ordination (AFC), Wi-Fi 6E devices will be able to transmit at a higher transmit power depending on the geolocation of the APs. AFC will be a universal database where each device can check-in for qualification of higher TX power. This will help in a majority of outdoor deployments where coverage plays a major role over the capacity of a wireless network.

f. Security

With Wi-Fi 6E WPA3 will be mandatory along with management frame protection, this help to increase the security of wireless networks overall.

AFC is a centralized database where each AP can check to validate if they meet specific criteria to use higher transmit power. The criteria for higher transmit power limits are heavily dependent on the location of the APs and it will be a requirement for the APs to check-in the database with their location. Here is a table that shows how much transmit power improvement we should expect.

Device Class

Operating bands

Max conducted power (dBm)

Max EIRP (dBm)

Max power spectral density (dBm/MHz)

Standard power (AFC controlled)

UNII-5

UNII-6

UNII-7

UNII-8

30 dBm

36 dBm

23 dBm

Low-power (indoor only)

UNII-5

UNII-6

UNII-7

UNII-8

24 dBm

30 dBm

17 dBm

 

If an AP is not able to check-in the AFC database is will default to using Low-power mode transmit power thus limiting the coverage from the AP.

In theory, both standards have the same throughput. But with the additional spectrum that is available for Wi-Fi 6E devices, achieving the higher throughput is going to be more convenient. Also, the default channel width for operating 6GHz networks will likely be higher (80MHz vs 20MHz).

Wi-Fi 6E adds new spectrum space in 6GHz for Wi-Fi communication, the allocation of the spectrum in 6GHz is dependent on the region and their respective regulatory domain. The EU as an example has allocated 500MHz of frequency space, whereas in the US 1200MHz has been allocated for Wi-Fi 6E usage. Depending on each regulatory domain the frequency allocation changes. The latest updates on this allocation can be found on, the WFA website.

Since Wi-Fi 6E has recently been introduced, there are a lot of client devices that still need to integrate Wi-Fi 6E NICs. Today, there are a few WNICs from Intel that do support Wi-Fi 6E. Few Android devices such as Google Pixel 6 and Samsung S21 Ultra have already upgraded their devices to support this newer spectrum. Microsoft has also included support for Wi-Fi 6E in their new OS Windows 11 indicating that the industry is moving towards transitioning towards 6GHz space. 

Essentially the range for Wi-Fi 6E will be similar to Wi-Fi 6 APs. Typically, as frequencies go higher we see higher signal degradation with distance. This is standard across all frequencies. Since 6GHz has higher frequency support than typical 5GHz/6GHz we would expect less range from 6GHz.  However Wi-Fi 6E brings on the additional spectrum with more clean, interference-free channels, we should expect to get better SNR values thus resulting in a very similar range as compared to Wi-Fi 6 APs.

LPI stands for Low Power Indoor, this mode basically allows APs to operate across the entire 6GHz spectrum in a limited transmit power mode. LPI APs will have a maximum transmit power of 30dBm including antenna gains. Using AFC (Automated Frequency Co-ordination), some APs will be able to transmit at standard power in order to increase their coverage area. There are some specific requirements for the APs to communicate and use AFC implementation.

In order to operate on a new spectrum, updated radios are required in the AP. This will entail upgrading your existing AP to one that supports the new Wi-Fi 6E radio in order to get access to the Wi-Fi 6E spectrum. 

Visit our website to get the most updated list of MRs that support Wi-Fi 6E.

The newer Wi-Fi 6E APs will have backward compatible client-serving radio for 2.4GHz and 5GHz respectively. Since 6GHz is a completely new spectrum, there should not be any form of interference and overlap with existing APs. In fact, as newer clients move to 6GHz for their operation, the additional spectrum will be available for legacy devices to operate on 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency space.

Wi-Fi 6E is going to facilitate higher bandwidth across all three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) on the AP. This is going to require higher wired backhaul speeds. Hence having a multi-Gig wired backhaul is going to be recommended as Wi-Fi 6E APs start providing service to newer client devices.

Also, as now the APs have more radios, additional power is going to be required to power up and take advantage of the full potential of the AP. 802.3bt power may be required as APs get additional radio and a higher capacity for handling wireless clients in any network. This means that switching infrastructure needs to be updated to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 6E capabilities.

Meraki Wi-Fi 6E APs will offer a seamless experience for existing and new users. There will be some key configurations that will be unique for Wi-Fi 6E such as channels of operation in 6GHz, Bands for individual SSIDs, and TX power for the 6GHz radio. Some key areas where the configuration might be required are:

a. Radio settings - for channel selection

b. SSID band operation - for selecting which SSID will operate on 2.4GHz, 5GHz and/or 6GHz

c. AP operation mode, if applicable - some MRs will be able to operate in dual-5GHz mode and Tri-band mode, so a selection will be required for such models.

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