The need for faster, more reliable, more efficient, and more widespread Wi-Fi coverage is becoming increasingly vital in a world filled with more Wi-Fi devices at both ends of the performance spectrum, from high-throughput and low-latency applications to battery-constrained Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research forecasts that Wi-Fi-enabled devices are set to increase from 3.3 billion annual unit shipments in 2019 to more than 4.6 billion by 2024, a growth that underscores the need for a more robust Wi-Fi network.
In its new whitepaper, The Future of Wi-Fi, ABI Research highlights that while the growing reach of Wi-Fi will be driven by several advancements, such as Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi’s expansion into the 60 Gigahertz (GHz) and sub-1 GHz bands through WiGig and HaLow, the most exciting, and potentially transformative, change to the Wi-Fi landscape is the anticipated availability of 6 GHz spectrum over the next few years.
“It is hard to overstate the potential that 6 GHz and Wi-Fi 6E can bring to Wi-Fi networks,” says Andrew Zignani, Principal Analyst, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Wireless Connectivity at ABI Research. Currently, Wi-Fi faces several difficult challenges. Key among them are the growing demands being placed on Wi-Fi networks, leading to increased congestion, performance limitations, and reduced Quality of Service (QoS). Most Wi-Fi devices are using increasing amounts of data per device, including streaming high-resolution music and videos, video calling, application and firmware updates, digital downloads, social networking, data-heavy web content, and online gaming, among others. “The tremendous surge in active Wi-Fi devices at home in recent months and the resulting increase in traffic due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have reaffirmed Wi-Fi as a vital utility, acutely demonstrating both its importance and limitations,” Zignani explains.
“On April 23, 2020, the FCC voted to make additional spectrum in the 6 GHz band available for Wi-Fi, with other regions expected to follow suit in the not too distant future. Once the global regulatory landscape for 6 GHz is finalized, the technology will bring about much higher throughput, much more capacity, greater reliability, lower latency, and better QoS than ever before,” says Zignani.
6 GHz not only brings about additional spectrum and higher throughputs, but essentially guarantees access to channels with no legacy, resulting in a corresponding improvement in latency and simplifying channel access. Wi-Fi 6E takes full advantage of what Wi-Fi 6 has to offer and can open new opportunities for Wi-Fi to better support 5G-class services reliant on high multi-gigabit throughput, low latency, high efficiency, broader coverage, and better mobility,” Zignani adds.
There are still challenges ahead. "Perhaps the largest current barrier to 6GHz adoption is still the need to iron out various regulatory challenges and obstacles across different regions,” Zignani points out. Limited chipset availability, cost of supporting the technology, building out the 6 GHz ecosystem, and proximity to Wi-Fi 6 rollout are hurdles. However, ABI Research anticipates that most of these challenges will be overcome and that opening the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi will address many of the challenges it is facing today and in the next decade.
To learn more about what is driving 6 GHz adoption, the significant benefits that 6 GHz will provide, the expected timeline surrounding its launch, and ABI Research’s strategic recommendations for technology implementers, download the whitepaper, The Future of Wi-Fi. You are welcome to share this link with your readers.
These findings are from ABI Research’s The Future of Wi-Fi whitepaper. This whitepaper is part of the company’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Wireless Connectivity research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights.
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