May 20 2024

Three Factors to Consider for a Successful Transition to Wi-Fi 6E

Wi-Fi 6E comes with a lot of benefits, and here’s how governments can prepare for it.

Wi-Fi 6E, an extension of Wi-Fi 6, comes with a lot of benefits. Faster speeds, lower latency and more network security are just a few of its features. That’s part of why enterprises are adopting it. In fact, one in three Wi-Fi 6 device shipments are expected to be Wi-Fi 6E in 2025.

That said, Wi-Fi 6E might not be right-sized for every government agency. Here are some factors agencies should consider before making the transition to Wi-Fi 6E.

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Assess Agency Infrastructure’s Compatibility with Wi-Fi 6E

Just as quarterbacks throw the ball better in fair weather than in a raging blizzard, the performance received from Wi-Fi 6E will depend on the environment it’s in. Unless the infrastructure is optimal, the performance won’t be. So, it's vital to assess an agency’s current infrastructure’s compatibility with Wi-Fi 6E, as upgrading will require compatible routers, access points and devices.

According to HP, “integrating older standard Wi-Fi devices and applications is possible with Wi-Fi 6, but not 6E. It may take some time before the majority of Wi-Fi-enabled devices are 6E compatible. Until then, the range that Wi-Fi 6 delivers is beneficial for most devices that are likely legacy Wi-Fi 4 or 5 devices.”

Beyond devices, IT leaders also need to ensure that the network architecture is compatible with Wi-Fi 6E’s 6 GHz frequency band. These networks need to support higher data rates, more wireless devices and deliver a more reliable and efficient wireless experience for users.

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Run a Cost-Benefit Analysis Before Making the Switch

Wi-Fi 6E offers numerous advantages but making the switch can be expensive. To justify the ROI on Wi-Fi 6E, IT leaders should perform a cost-benefit analysis.

Often, the overall cost depends on the strength and capability of current infrastructure. For example, can an agency retain any current devices? Will a government network have to undergo a complete device overhaul? How expensive will the requisite tweaks to the network architecture be?

Then balance those costs with the financial savings that Wi-Fi 6E can bring. For instance, immediate savings can stem from the increased efficiency and productivity the network allows for, helping agencies recoup some of the $8.8 trillion the world loses in productivity each year.

Wi-Fi 6E can also help future-proof the arrival of Wi-Fi 7 and 8, state and local governments may experience additional savings in the long-term as they don’t need to completely retool their infrastructure for future networks.

READ MORE: What does Wi-Fi 7 mean for state and local agencies?

Comply with Wi-Fi 6E Regulations

Since Wi-Fi 6E operates in the 6GHz frequency band, there may be different regulatory restrictions or licensing requirements in some regions, as outlined by The Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Further, spectrum usage is often affected with 6E implementation — adding a new frequency band necessitates adding a new radio, which means swapping dual-band access points (AP) for tri-band APs — and there are likewise various local regulations that may impact how businesses can go about making these necessary changes.

So, rather than transition to Wi-Fi 6E simply to keep up with the competition, IT leaders should consider these factors and decide if it is the right fit for their agency.

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