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Wood and drywall help prove residential performance of Wi-Fi 6E

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Tests on the use of Wi-Fi 6E in residential environments have proven the benefits of using enabled devices over the 6GHz band rather than 5GHz.

Enabled by the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA), the field trial took place in a 3,600-square-foot, two-storey home with a basement and all the drywall, wood and other building materials typically found in a suburban residence.

CableLabs and Intel connected Wi-Fi 6E enabled laptops using Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 wireless cards placed in various locations throughout the residence – which, incidentally, was home to a CableLabs employee. The tests were conducted using a Wi-Fi 6E enabled access point from Asus.

Specifically they assessed how robust the connectivity was for telecommuting and streaming, along with more advanced residential use cases such as multiplayer gaming and AR and VR.

Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said: “This field trial by CableLabs and Intel shows how Wi-Fi 6E and 6 GHz spectrum maximise coverage, capacity, throughput and the user experience in one of the most demanding real-world environments: people’s homes.

"Between HD and 4K streaming video, multiplayer gaming, dozens of smart home devices and videoconferencing for remote work, today’s home Wifi networks are the foundation for how people live, work and play. This trial highlights that Wi-Fi 6E is more than capable of shouldering that load, especially when paired with 6GHz spectrum.”

A range of tests were conducted on the downlink and uplink, comparing throughput achieved on the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands for wide channels (80 MHz and 160 MHz). CableLabs and Intel also analysed the Wi-Fi 6E performance compared to Wi-Fi 6 on the 5 GHz band in the presence of overlapping neighbouring access points.

The trial’s key results included 1.7 TCP Gbps downlink and 1.2 TCP Gbps uplink speeds when using 160 MHz channels on Wi-Fi 6E in locations close to the access point. The larger channel bandwidth and the associated increase in total EIRP transmit power based on the channel bandwidth helped maximise both coverage and speed throughout the home.

Lili Hervieu, lead architect of wireless access technology at CableLabs, said: “CableLabs has been a proponent of making the 6GHz band available for unlicensed use, and we were honoured to conduct the Wi-Fi 6E trial in one of our employee’s homes for a truly real-world experience. The results confirmed the benefit of Wi-Fi 6E for increased capacity and data rate that will support the growing demand we are seeing for a large variety of applications and for new emerging technologies.”

In conclusion, WBA agreed the results "clearly demonstrate the real-world benefits" of the 6GHz band and that it is "important to note that although Wi-Fi 6 devices perform better than Wi-Fi 5 devices over 5 GHz, next-level user experiences are possible with Wi-Fi 6E and the additional bandwidth available in the 6 GHz spectrum".

Brazil, the USA and Saudi Arabia are just some of the countries to grant unlicensed access to some or all of the 6GHz band.

Eric A. McLaughlin, VP of the client computing group and GM of the wireless solutions group at Intel Corporation, said: “Intel’s mission is to enable great PC experiences with industry leading platform capabilities like Wi-fi 6E.

"The speed, latency, and reliability improvements enabled by the new 6 GHz spectrum, with larger channels and freedom from legacy Wi-Fi interference, will help dramatically enhance user communication, entertainment, and productivity.”