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Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise adds Wi-Fi 6E to 'premium' access points

Company claims standard will improve performance in dense environments

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is the latest networking outfit to add Wi-Fi 6E capability to its hardware, opening up access to the less congested 6GHz spectrum for business users.

The France-based company just revealed the OmniAccess Stellar 14xx series of wireless access points, which are set for availability from this September. Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise said its first Wi-Fi 6E device will be a high-end "premium" Access Point and will be followed by a mid-range product by the end of the year.

Wi-Fi 6E is compatible with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, but adds the ability to use channels in the 6GHz portion of the spectrum, a feature that will be built into the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 standard from the start. This enables users to reduce network contention, or so the argument goes, as the 6GHz portion of the spectrum is less congested with other traffic than the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies used for Wi-Fi access.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise cites this as the reason for adding support to its new access point family, stating that Wi-Fi standards are driving the pace of evolution of the OmniAccess Stellar WLAN solutions. Wi-Fi 6E will provide improved performance in dense environments, the company said, allowing a large number of clients to connect to one access point at the same time.

The rise of high-bandwidth, low-latency applications such as augmented and virtual reality, 4K/8K Ultra-HD video, and medical imaging have driven the need for the new standard, and that 6GHz Wi-Fi now has seven super-wide 160Mhz channels available for enhanced performance.

Cisco unveiled Wi-Fi 6E access points as part of a new range of network kit earlier this year.

Stephan Robineau, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise EVP for the Network Business Division, said that the company aimed to keep adapting to meet the changing demands of its customers.

"Customers in Wi-Fi 6E approved countries can now take advantage of one of the largest unlicensed spectrum offerings, which will boost the performance of next-generation apps in Wi-Fi 6E enabled devices to deliver high quality of connectivity experience," he explained.

However, availability of all seven channels may well depend on local regulations wherever in the world you are. For example, only the lower three 6GHz channels in the 5.925-6.425GHz range are currently license-exempt in the UK, although the regulator Ofcom is working to ensure that some or all channels in the upper 6GHz band (6.425-7.070GHz) are also available.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise said that its OmniAccess Stellar access points are based on a distributed intelligence architecture that eliminates the need for physical centralized controller hardware, delivering operational simplicity and greater scalability.

Existing Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise users can choose from different purchasing models, including the Network-as-a-Service subscription model, to smoothly transition to new Wi-Fi standards at their own pace, with minimum investment and no financial risk. ®

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