May 14 2024

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

Wi-Fi 6E comes with a lot of benefits. But before colleges and universities transition to the new wireless standard, they should know how to fully maximize 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 partly why higher education institutions are adopting it, especially considering the explosion of remote learning and the influx of connected devices now on college campuses. In fact, 1 in 3 Wi-Fi 6 device shipments is expected to be compatible with the new standard by 2025.

That said, Wi-Fi 6E might not be the right choice for every institution. Here are some factors to consider before making the transition.

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

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

Click the banner below to learn how to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6E and future-proof higher ed networks.


According to an HP blog post, “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.”

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

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 an upgrade to the expanded standard, IT leaders should perform a cost-benefit analysis.

Often, the overall cost depends on the strength and capability of a college's current infrastructure.  For example, are you able to keep any of your current provided student, faculty and staff devices? Will you have to undergo a complete device overhaul? How much will it cost to make the requisite tweaks to an institution's network architecture?  

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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 enhanced standard provides, which could help recoup some of the $8.8 trillion in global productivity losses each year. Wi-Fi 6E can also help future proof the arrival of Wi-Fi 7 and 8. Institutions may experience additional savings in the long term as they won’t need to completely retool their infrastructure for future networks.

Comply with Wi-Fi 6E Regulations

Because 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. Further, spectrum usage is often affected with 6E implementation — adding a new frequency band requires adding a new radio, which means swapping dual-band APs for tri-band APs — and there also may be various local, state or federal regulations that impact how colleges go about making these changes.

The bottom line: Rather than transition to Wi-Fi 6E simply to keep up with the competition, university IT leaders should consider these factors and decide if the upgrade is right for their institution.

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