May 13 2024

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

The 6-gigahertz band comes with a lot of benefits, but before schools transition to the network, they should know how to fully maximize it.

Wi-Fi 6E, an extension of Wi-Fi 6, comes with faster speeds, lower latency and more network security, to name just a few of its features. Therefore, it’s no surprise school districts are adopting it. In fact, 1 in 3 Wi-Fi 6 device shipments are expected to be Wi-Fi 6E in 2025.

That said, Wi-Fi 6E might not be rightsized out of the box for every organization. Here are three factors IT leaders should consider before making the transition to the new standard.

1. Is Your Infrastructure Compatible with Wi-Fi 6E?

Just as students perform better academically in the right setting, 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 compatibility with Wi-Fi 6E, as upgrading will require compatible routers, access points and devices.

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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.”

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, more wireless devices and deliver a more reliable and efficient wireless experience for users.

2. Does the Increased Network Performance Justify Upgrading?

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

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Often, the overall cost depends on the strength and capability of your current infrastructure.  For example, are you able to keep any of your current devices? Will you have to undergo a complete device overhaul? How expensive will the requisite tweaks to your network architecture be?

Then balance those costs with the benefits of upgrading. The increased efficiency and productivity the network allows for can provide new opportunities for teaching and learning. Wi-Fi 6E can also help future proof the arrival of Wi-Fi 7 and 8; schools could experience additional long-term savings, as they won’t need to completely retool their infrastructure for future networks.

LEARN MORE: Get answers to commonly asked E-rate funding questions.

3. Do You Need to Consider 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 necessitates adding a new radio, which means swapping dual-band access points for tri-band APs — and there also may be various local regulations that impact how schools go about making these necessary changes.

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

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