Wi-Fi 6E scarcity has enterprises delaying upgrades until Wi-Fi 7 gear ships

As supply-chain woes make Wi-Fi 6E gear hard to find, enterprises are opting to delay upgrades until Wi-Fi 7 is available late next year.

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Supply chain problems for Wi-Fi 6E access points are so bad that enterprises are skipping that version of wireless technology and waiting until Wi-Fi 7 equipment starts to ship late next year, says market researcher Dell'Oro Group.

Wi-Fi 6E builds on Wi-Fi 6 by adding the the 6GHz band (5.925 GHz to 7.125 GHz), where, currently, there is a lot less traffic and much lower latency than in 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that Wi-Fi 6. That extra bandwidth makes 6E a logical choice for latency-sensitive applications.

But you can’t use something if you can’t buy it, and Dell'Oro says that based on its discussions with enterprises, 6E products are in very limited supply or unavailable.

Tam Dell’Oro, CEO of the company, attributes the shortage to a combination of pandemic manufacturing shutdowns and high demand for migrating to Wi-Fi 6. “The feedback that I'm hearing is enterprises have been sweating their assets, and there's a significant need to upgrade and advance the infrastructure. It's all coming together at the same time,” she said.

She said that in the course of speaking with senior executives at vendors like Juniper Networks and Cisco, all say their customers recognize that the 6E products are being delayed. So they're ordering Wi-Fi 6 now. Wi-Fi 7 is not expected to ship until the end of 2023.

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