Broadcom ships the first Wi-Fi 6E chip for mobile devices, paving the way for new 6GHz networks

Wi-Fi 6E builds on the existing Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard, but adds new channels using 6GHz radio spectrum.

Broadcom has announced what it’s calling the first Wi-Fi 6E chip for mobile devices, supporting 160MHz-wide channels in the 6GHz wireless spectrum that the FCC could soon open up for use in the United States.

The dedicated bandwidth will add a third frequency band to the traditional Wi-Fi spectrum. Most Wi-Fi networks and client devices today utilize the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. The new standard will take advantage of contiguous blocks within the unlicensed frequency spectrum of 5.925- to 7.125GHz. Essentially, Wi-Fi 6E is simply Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with lots more bandwidth.

Why is this important? Because Wi-Fi shoulders quite a lot of the load of global internet traffic, with only a limited amount of bandwidth to handle it: There’s just 70MHz of spectrum in the 2.4GHz band, and 500MHz of spectrum in the 5GHz band. The 6GHz band offers up to 1,200MHz of additional bandwidth—enough to support 14 new 80MHz-wide channels, and seven new 160MHz-wide channels.

All those new channels will mean less congestion on wireless networks at home, at work, and on the go. But as you’ve probably already guessed, you’ll need new hardware to tap into that spectrum. Wi-Fi 6E chips like Broadcom’s will be backward compatible in that they’ll operate on 2.4- and 5GHz networks, but they’ll only deliver the higher speeds when connecting to routers and Wi-Fi access points that are also operating in the new 6GHz spectrum. .

Broadcom says its BCM4389 chip will support two spatial streams simultaneoously and should theoretically deliver throughput of 2.63Gbps at the physical layer. Real-world performance is sure to be significantly less, but still plenty fast. The chip will also make use of technologies introduced with earlier Wi-Fi versions, including Multi-User MIMO, OFDMA, and 1024-QAM modulation.

One possible drawback to using 6GHz spectrum, however, is decreased range. Radio transmissions using higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths, and short wavelengths are more susceptible to being absorbed by physical barriers such as walls and ceilings. That’s why a 2.4GHz network can cover more area than a 5GHz network.

According to Broadcom, the BCM4389 should be shipping and available in client devices by late fall, 2020. The upshot? You’ll have Wi-Fi 6E devices to choose from this holiday season.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?