Wi-Fi 7 hasn’t officially launched yet, but there’s been a lot of work done on its specs. Here’s what you need to know.
Some time ago it was necessary to discover Wi-Fi 6. Today, Wi-Fi 6E devices are coming to the market. And get ready, the Wi-Fi 7 will be here soon. Here’s what to expect from this next generation of wireless connectivity and when the first compatible products hit the shelves.
As you might have already guessed, Wi-Fi 7 is all about a speed boost. Hardware capable of supporting it will therefore be able to enjoy higher throughputs than ever before. Technically, we’re talking about IEEE 802.11be Extremely High Throughput (EHT) here, with the official Wi-Fi 7 naming expected to be announced shortly.
In an IEEE paper – very interesting for a technical dive into Wi-Fi 7 – the standard is described as promising not only for transfer speeds and bandwidth, but also “for several revolutionary changes for the Wi-Fi, which will form the basis for future Wi-Fi evolutions.” MediaTek promises that the standard will be a realistic replacement for wired Ethernet connections.
What advantages for the general public
Until this standard hits devices, some of the specs we’re going to talk about are subject to change, but this should give you an idea of where Wi-Fi is headed. If we had to sum it up, we’d say that the general public will have access to higher speeds.
Like Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7 operates in the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz frequency bands, supporting up to 30 Gbps. That’s a big step up from the 9.6Gbps maximum promised by Wi-Fi 6E, although as always these are just theoretical numbers, a far cry from what you might get at home.
Wi-Fi 7 uses many tricks to improve performance. One of them is the use of a single channel bandwidth of 320 MHz, compared to 160 MHz on the previous generation. This will increase speeds and throughputs for your devices. Coupled with the adoption of 6 GHz, this should help reduce interference between devices, which is important with all our smartphones, tablets, laptops, consoles, smartwatches, smart speakers, etc. trying to connect at the same time.
Another important aspect is latency. And again, there will be improvements. Wi-Fi 7 will deploy a variety of techniques to ensure that the maximum number of requests are served with the minimum delay. One of them is Multi-Link Operation (MLO), which introduces a better way for products to keep multiple connections open across multiple ranges at the same time.
The technology known as MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) also plays an important role here: the maximum number of supported streams for client devices will increase from 8 to 16, allowing offer more capacity in a smaller footprint.
Many enhancements to Wi-Fi 7 – from Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) to Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) to Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), for example – require great technical knowledge to be apprehended, but they all contribute to transferring data faster, to more devices simultaneously and more efficiently.
The objective is to meet the needs of today’s Internet users who spend a lot of time watching or streaming videos, making video calls, playing online, immersing themselves in virtual and augmented realities and of course, by connecting dozens of devices on a single wireless router in one corner of their home.
Coordination between access points will also make it possible to obtain a better network with Wi-Fi 7, so that mesh networks, which have become well democratized in recent years, can manage data and devices more efficiently. The idea is always to be able to have more of your devices connected, with higher speeds, even if they are mobile.
What Wi-Fi 7 can’t do, of course, is improve the speed of the connection where you live and until internet service providers offer you better, these improved Wi-Fi technologies won’t change your life. The first to benefit will therefore be businesses and industry.
It will also most certainly be a long time before we see the first Wi-Fi 7 compatible devices. Although the specifications have been in consideration for several years already, this new generation may not make its official debut before the end of this year and the first consumer products will not arrive long after that. In other words, don’t worry, your brand new Wi-Fi 6 or 6E router still has time to spare.
As usual, Wi-Fi 7 devices will be backward compatible: they will work perfectly with your old equipment. So you can update your accommodation little by little, without changing everything all at once.