Decoding the Wireless Revolution: Exploring the Difference Between Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6E


Staying informed about the latest wireless advancements is key to unlocking the full potential of connectivity. The availability of the 6 GHz band has opened a new superhighway of connectivity that will enable enhanced wireless networking with the adoption of Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7, and beyond.

For now, we can examine what is currently available in the market: Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7, exploring their differences and implications for the future of wireless networking.

Wi-Fi 6E: Expanding the Spectrum

Wi-Fi 6E represents an evolution of the existing Wi-Fi 6 standard, with a focus on expanding the available spectrum for wireless communication. By leveraging the pristine RF environment of the 6 GHz frequency band, Wi-Fi 6E offers increased bandwidth and reduced congestion, resulting in improved performance and reliability. Key features of Wi-Fi 6E include:

  • Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA): effectively shares channels to increase network efficiency and lower latency for both uplink and downlink traffic in high-demand environments.
  • 160 MHz wide channels: increases bandwidth to deliver greater performance with low latency.
  • Target wake time (TWT): significantly improves battery life in Wi-Fi devices, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
  • 1024-QAM: increases throughput in Wi-Fi devices by encoding more data in the same amount of spectrum.

Understanding Wi-Fi 7: A Glimpse into the Future

Wi-Fi 7 represents the pinnacle of wireless innovation, offering unparalleled speed, efficiency, and reliability. With theoretical peak data rates exceeding 46 Gbps, Wi-Fi 7 sets a new standard for wireless performance, enabling seamless connectivity for bandwidth-intensive applications and emerging technologies. Key features of Wi-Fi 7 include:

  • Multi-Link Operation (MLO): supports more efficient load balancing of traffic among links, resulting in increased throughput and enhanced reliability.
  • Flexible Channel Utilization: uses preamble puncturing to avoid channels with interference.
  • 320 MHz superwide channels: 2X throughput of Wi-Fi 6, enables multi-gigabit speeds.
  • 4K-QAM: Achieves 20% higher transmission rates than 1024 QAM.

Differentiating Between Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6E

While both Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6E offer significant advancements in wireless technology, they target different aspects of connectivity:

Frequency Band

Wi-Fi 6E: Extends Wi-Fi 6 technology into the 6 GHz band, providing additional, uncrowded spectrum for faster and more reliable wireless communication. Wi-Fi 6E devices can also transmit in the legacy 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.

Wi-Fi 7: Operates in all three bands, 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz, and has theoretical speeds of up to 46 Gbps.

Efficiency and Performance

Wi-Fi 6E: Marked the debut of an additional 1200 MHz of pristine spectrum in the 6 GHz band. Wi-Fi 6E can be compared to opening a new, unobstructed expressway that has no traffic lights or interruptions, effectively doubling the road capacity compared to the existing 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. This new exclusive 6 GHz expressway allows for faster data transmission speeds and less interference, akin to cars (data) moving more swiftly and smoothly without the hindrance of congestion found on older roads.

Wi-Fi 7: Introduces Multi-Link Operation (MLO), enabling client devices to simultaneously connect to an access point across two or more channels spanning different bands. A helpful analogy for this update is to imagine two highways leading to your destination. MLO is akin to providing the flexibility to distribute traffic across both highways and to swiftly redirect traffic from one to the other if congestion occurs.

A Quick Recap

Extreme’s David Coleman covers the differences between the technologies in under two minutes. 


Embracing the Future of Wireless Networking

As the wireless landscape continues to evolve and we transition into the era of 6 GHz Wi-Fi connectivity, Wi-Fi 7 or Wi-Fi 6E technologies can help future-proof your network for the upcoming five years. Utilizing the 6 GHz spectrum is the true key to enhancing bandwidth and capacity, reducing network latency, and, most importantly, ensuring a superior quality Wi-Fi user experience – whether its Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 7. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the evolving world of wireless networking, unlocking new opportunities and possibilities along the way.

About the Author
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Lisa Yeaton
Senior Social Media Manager

Lisa Yeaton is a Senior Social Media Manager at Extreme Networks. In her role, Lisa oversees all of Extreme's corporate social media accounts and creates corporate communications content.

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