In May, Qualcomm announced the launch of a new wireless connectivity portfolio that takes advantage of new FCC standards on 6 GHz, Wi-Fi 6E. These new chips will make the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed, commercial, and consumer use—and could have significant implications for the future of internet-connected technology.
FCC Rule Change Opens Up More Spectrum
The FCC’s rule change is recent—it was only in April that the FCC announced it would make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band available for public, unlicensed use. This change offers significantly more range for Wi-Fi routers to broadcast and is the single biggest spectrum addition since the FCC first cleared room for Wi-Fi back in 1989.
Wi-Fi 6E. Screenshot used courtesy of Qualcomm
The upgrade to the available spectrum should boost speeds and help manage spectrum congestion. In the same way 5G is equipped with new tech, like massive MIMO, this change will support large numbers of devices connecting to the same cell tower.
Globalization has led to a greater spread of new tech, like industrial IoT. More and more businesses are adopting dense fleets of IoT devices. At the same time, the average number of internet-connected devices in American homes is rising. Spectrum congestion was likely to become a significant challenge without an increase in the available spectrum.
Qualcomm’s New Chips Take Advantage of Wi-Fi 6E
While Qualcomm isn’t the first manufacturer to develop a chip for the new Wi-Fi standards—Broadcom announced a Wi-Fi 6-enabled chip of its own ahead of the FCC’s rule change—Qualcomm’s claims its new chips are the fastest available in a press release. The FastConnect 6900 is said to offer 3.6 gigabits per second, and the FastConnect 6700 aims to deliver almost 3 gigabits per second.
The FastConnect 6700. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
Consumers won’t likely see speeds nearly that high since the average American download speed is a little more than 90 megabits per second, according to the Internet and Television Association. But Wi-Fi 6 routers are significantly faster than Wi-Fi 6, even if they are unlikely to hit top theoretical speeds.
Qualcomm’s new Wi-Fi portfolio also includes new tech, like “Max User Architecture” and “Multi-User Traffic Management,” designed to help manage large numbers of connections to the same network.
Qualcomm also announced a series of four networking solutions for future Wi-Fi 6 routers that will improve the connectivity of many devices to the same router. These solutions feature a 2.2 GHz quad-core A53 processor built to support Qualcomm’s new power-management architecture.
Wi-Fi 6E May Change How We Use the Internet
It has only been a month since the FCC announced its rule change, and this new hardware won’t debut until late 2020. We’re also still a ways off from seeing the first applications of this tech available to consumers.
Even now, it seems likely the rules change will have a substantial impact on the future of Wi-Fi hardware. New routers and chipsets will probably be able to manage a growing number of internet-connected devices.
Do you think evolving connectivity standards will affect circuit design in any substantial way? How? Share your thoughts in the comments below.