Qualcomm announces new Wi-Fi 6E chips

The chip for routers is shipping to manufacturers now and the model for smartphones will be arriving in the second half of 2020

Qualcomm has announced its next-gen wireless chips that support the new Wi-Fi 6E standard. The “E” in Wi-Fi 6E stands for “extended” and supported devices will be able to operate on the newly opened 6GHz spectrum that should offer less network congestion and faster and more dependable connections.

While Wi-Fi 6 supported devices are still in their infancy - the iPhone 11 lineup, iPhone SE, and 2020 iPad Pro are the only Apple devices with support so far - over the next year, we’ll start seeing Wi-Fi 6E come to smartphones and routers. That will allow compatible devices to expand beyond 2.4 and 5GHz frequencies to the 6GHz spectrum.

Qualcomm detailed its Wi-Fi 6E enabled chips today for such devices today (via The Verge). The Wi-Fi 6E chips are part of the company’s FastConnect series. The chip for routers is shipping to manufacturers now and the model for smartphones will be arriving in the second half of this year.

The phone chips fall under Qualcomm’s FastConnect line, which tend to end up integrated with Snapdragon chips. There are two options at launch: the FastConnect 6700 and FastConnect 6900, which have top theoretical speeds of 3Gbps and 3.6Gbps. Both include support for the maximum size of Wi-Fi channels (160MHz on 5GHz and 6GHz).

As noted by The Verge, since Qualcomm already launched its high-end chips earlier this year we may not see Wi-Fi 6E support arrive in Android smartphones until late this year or possibly next year.

When it comes to iPhone, while Apple is making a return to Qualcomm as its vendor for cellular chips with 5G expected this fall in the iPhone 12 lineup, it signed a deal with Broadcom that will likely include WiFi chips for the next three years.

Broadcom unveiled its Wi-Fi 6E enabled chip in February, so it’s possible that Apple could include support for the latest standard in the iPhone 12 series.

If you haven’t picked up a Wi-Fi 6 supported router yet, it may be worth waiting for the upcoming Wi-Fi 6E enabled models that should arrive over the next year made possible by Qualcomm and Broadcom’s newest chip since you’ll need both a supported device and router to use the 6GHz spectrum.

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