What is the Difference Between the WiFi 6 and the WiFi 6E Router? 

7 min read
31 October 2022

At the current time, WiFi 6 still accounts for the majority of sales of routers for businesses and at home; however, there's a new sheriff in town.

In 2020 we saw the launch of the WiFi 6E Router and device. With it being a new release, naturally, it should be an upgrade. Many are wondering precisely what the difference between the two is.

In this article, we will look to compare each other's attributes to determine the real benefits of potentially upgrading to WiFi 6E. 

Let's get into it. 

The Difference Between WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E

What is the Difference Between the WiFi 6 and the WiFi 6E Router? 

Credit: Unsplash.com

If your business's wireless infrastructure is reliant on 802.11ac as standard, then you may be in the know that it's time to upgrade.  

When we break it down, that standard was released way back in 2013, and as we can all attest, technology has advanced rapidly in almost a decade. 

WiFi 6 debuted in 2019, and WiFi 6E is a technical extension. So we will look at the subtle differences and let you decide what standard to embrace. 

Knowing the Differences Between WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E

Security has Improved with Both

Both standards have much in common, but as far as security is concerned, there is little difference.  


Both use WPA3, released in 2018. For those who use WPA and WPA2 and protecting your wireless with a pre-shared key (PSK) opens the door for hackers to throw tens of thousands of passwords at it until they find a hit. 


WPA3 has prevented this by replacing PSK with Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), a new technology. 


SAE does not send any passphrase during the exchange between devices. But limited each device to ONLY one password guess for each authentication cycle, that's closed the door to the hackers. 


However, if you still insist on using passwords such as '12345678' or 'qwerty', you are still open to attack. 


Both standards use what is known as Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE). The challenge has always been providing access to unknown guests or customers.  


It was relatively easy to intercept a four-way handshake on an unencrypted connection by tricking the users into connecting to a rouge router. 


With PSK as the encryptor meant, you had to somehow convey the passphrase to the third party, which was never easy. Open access then came along, opening your wireless environment to the 'Guest'; while convenient, it opened your wireless network to attack. 


OWE, however, allows you to have the best of both worlds. You still get open wireless while it encrypts all your session traffic by utilising a secret key, and the end user doesn't need it. 


Both Perform Better Than WiFi 5

What is the Difference Between the WiFi 6 and the WiFi 6E Router? 

Credit: Unsplah.com


Regarding speed, efficiency and performance, WiFi6 and WiFi 6E are considerable upgrades to WiFi 5.


WiFi 5 only supported 5 GHz, so any devices that could only support 2.4 GHz had to resort to connecting to WiFi 4.  


Whist WiFi 5 offered greater bandwidth but was within a smaller coverage area, so further away devices still had to resort to 2.4 GHz for connection.


WiFi 6 and 6E both support 2.4 and 5 GHz; therefore, this offers flexibility for the client to choose from. 


They are both similar in their advancement on WiFi 5 in the following:


  • They both deliver a throughput of 9.6 GB - WiFi only 3.5 GB
  • Both contain TWT (Target Wake Time), which enables a device to think for itself about when to wake up and send and receive data. This expands the life of a device as it reduces power consumption
  • The new versions allow up to 30 users per channel, whilst WiFi 5 allows only one
  • WiFi 5 supports only 4 MU-MIMO beams simultaneously, while WiFi 6 and 6E allow 8. This allows more devices to connect simultaneously, which are ideal for businesses


So, WiFi 6 and 6E are considerable upgrades to WiFi 5. So you must be wondering...'OK, fine, I get that; when are you going to get to the punchline?' We are there:


The Major Differentiator of WiFi 6E


As mentioned above, both 6 and 6E support 2.4 and 5 GHz; WiFi 6E goes above and beyond.  


There's a new 6 GHz frequency band in town; this is the only version supporting it. There's your answer, and it's a biggie!


It operates exclusively on its own, bypassing all over-utilised bands.  


Therefore it's operating without congestion, interference and legacy protocols. 


Imagine travelling on a highway or motorway today, and suddenly there is a new lane that no other vehicle can go through, and you see pedestrians walking through it, and it's a giant lane.  


Everything is moving along perfectly without any congestion or slowing down. That's WiFi 6E! And in Lane 6E, there's never a rush hour; what bliss!


Now, if you want to get in that lane, you need a special pass, a wireless device that supports WiFi 6E.


The new 6 GHz band has been developed to handle the overloads of today's wireless networks. It offers:


  • 59 additional 20 MHz channels
  • 29 additional 40 MHz channels
  • Low latency for 4K and 8K streaming


The low latency is courtesy of a multi-gigabit connection. HD video conferencing will be taken to new heights and run optimally. 


Where 6 Ghz still can't quite reach 2.4 GHz, the new 6E has access points that accommodate all three frequencies. Therefore allowing distant devices to connect with 2.4 GHz; it is a remarkable upgrade. 


One Temporary Problem


Whilst you can buy a WiFi 6E Router and device, the protocol is still relatively new, and we are waiting for more clients to start supporting it. However, this will change quickly, so there is no harm in getting into the market and setting yourself up, as this will move quickly. As you can still use your current wireless fleet, prepare for the future. 




While upgrading to WiFi 6 offers improved performance and security, taking the full jump to WiFi 6E will put you into an entirely new spectrum of 1200 MHz and upgrade your intentions. The exclusivity and speed at which 6E will operate make sense for anyone that needs to expand operations moving forward. So go out and get a WiFi 6E Router and device. This is the most significant internet transformation in 30 years. The future is here.

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Asif Wazir 0
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