Wifi 6E and Automated frequency coordination: Here’s what you need to know

In 2020, Wifi 6 revolutionized the Wifi game. Certified by the Wifi Alliance, Wifi 6 meant faster internet — speedy downloads, reliable streaming and accelerated load times. After Wifi 6E entered the game, a whole new standard of Wifi 6 was introduced. And now, with the newly released 6GHz bandwidth, you can say goodbye to interference, congestion and slowed network signals!

Wifi 6 router adoption was not only popular but rapid, and it will eventually account for nearly 81% of the entire total Wi-Fi market in 2026. Consequently, this led to network congestion, interference and an overall need for more efficient services. The FCC introduced the 6GHz bandwidth to tackle these issues. Now, to enhance the 6GHz operation, the Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) — a spectrum use coordination system — is in the works, and it’s safe to say we can expect it soon. Keep on reading to find out what the AFC could mean for your Wifi performance.

What is the Automated Frequency Coordination?

In recent years, as the demand for wireless connectivity surged, systems and databases are increasingly required to manage efficient spectrum sharing. While the use of databases to manage Wifi systems is nothing new, it has certainly evolved from manual to automated, and finally, to dynamic.

The AFC systems are known by different names in various frequency bands. But, all of them have identical core functions:

  • Protect incumbent licensees or other users from interference caused by entrants with lower priority  (and, in some cases, coordinate among users with the same priority).
  • Provide authority and, in some bands virtually real-time decisions, on requests to transmit or assign usage rights.
  • Enforce the use of authorized devices.
  • Monitor spectrum assignments and, in some cases, actual usage.

What does the AFC system mean for Wifi 6 and 6E?

Theoretically, an AFC system would manage unlicensed sharing across 850 megahertz in the 6GHz band between n 5925 and 7125 MHz. This offers a huge opportunity and opens the door to outdoor Wifi deployments in areas across the US, such as municipal Wifi, campus networks, stadiums and other outdoor sports facilities, broadband service providers, cable operators and WISPs.

The Wifi Alliance has been working on draft specifications, the first one released in January 2021, which defined “the architecture, protocols, and functionality for the Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) system-to-AFC device interface”.

The Open Automated Frequency Coordination group is in charge of software that will provide flexibility for outdoor deployments of next-generation Wifi.

To ensure they develop an open-source reference implementation of an AFC system, the Open AFC Group partnered up with the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) to drive global adoption of Wifi in the new 6GHz unlicensed band.

“Enabling the full benefits of 6 GHz Wifi with an AFC system will deliver all the public Wifi benefits of OpenRoaming including automatic friction-free onboarding for users whilst managing privacy and security and enabling different identity options,” said the WBA.

“As we take steps towards optimizing the connectivity and economic benefits of the 6 GHz band, we also need to ensure fair and equitable use of the band,” commented Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “Open AFC will benefit the whole Wifi Industry, including networks that have adopted OpenRoaming. It will enhance Wifi to provide a consistently great, secure broadband user experience in stadiums, homes, enterprises, schools, hospitals and more.”

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