Explained: What is Wi-Fi 7? Everything you need to know about Next-generation Wi-Fi Standard

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If you have read specifications for laptops and smartphones in the past few months, you would have noticed that the latest devices often come either with Wi-Fi 6 or 6E support. Apart from benign the latest generation of Wi-Fi networks, there’s nothing much a normal user would be able to discern simply referring to the nomenclature. Just as we are talking about 6 and 6E, the future of Wi-Fi is just round the corner i.e. Wi-Fi 802.11be aka Wi-Fi 7. It will offer better network reception, bandwidth, and added capability among others. Let’s dig into what Wi-Fi 7 is and why you should care about it. Before we do that here’s a quick look to Wi-Fi evolution:

Wifi evelution timeline
Wifi evelution timeline

What is Wi-Fi 7?

Of course, you would like to know what is Wi-Fi 7. Wi-Fi 6 offered a subtle increment over Wi-Fi 5 offering access to 2.4, 5, and 6GHz and the Wi-Fi 6E followed the same path. The upcoming Wi-Fi 7 which is named Wi-Fi 802.11 be EHT where EHT stands for Extremely High Throughput. It lets you access the three bands i.e. 2.4, 5, and 6GHz as well while bringing the nominal peak data rates to 40Gbps and more.

According to the reports, Wi-Fi 7 will technically be three times faster than that of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E which were capable of reaching 9.6Gbps of max data rates. To put things into perspective, Wi-Fi 5 was capable of clocking max data rates of 6.9Gbps which puts Wi-Fi 7 at six times faster than the former. It’s not just the data rates but Wi-Fi 7 will technically offer a myriad of features right from boost efficiency, increased network capacity, and reduced latency among others.

The Wi-Fi 7 will be backward-compatible as in the case of all its predecessors so even if you have a Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 router, you can still use it on your phone or PC with Wi-Fi 7 although you won’t be able to use Wi-Fi 7 on unsupported devices. You would need the specifications as regarded by Wi-Fi 802.11be to get hands-on with Wi-Fi 7’s full potential.

Wi-Fi 7 aims to handle more devices with efficiency thanks to the available spectrum. It can be used for lighting fast internet, latency-free gaming, and other use cases. It can transfer more data via different channels, offering a lower latency rate than its previous generations.

How Wi-Fi 7 (Wi-Fi 802.11be ) is better than Wi-Fi 6/6E?

According to IEEE, Wi-Fi 6 is called 802.11ax whereas Wi-Fi 7 will be called 802.11be. The latter is, by all means, faster than Wi-Fi 6 at least twice as much although the theoretical speed is three times faster. Chipmaker MediaTek further adds that Wi-Fi 7 offers better speeds with the same number of antennas thanks to its 320MHz channels and 4K quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology support.

When it comes to Wi-Fi 6E, is an extended version of Wi-Fi 6 and thus, the additional ‘E’ has been appended to the name. It taps into 6GHz frequency which is something Wi-Fi 7 will bring as well apart from improved wireless speeds and reduced latency than the previous gen. Wi-Fi 6E is extensively used across IoT devices because of the availability of more bandwidth which creates ample space for devices to tag along with less interference to worry about.

Wi-Fi 7 vs Wi-Fi 6E vs Wi-Fi 6: Comparison

For your better understanding we have created a quick comparison between Wi-Fi 7 vs Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 6E. Let’s have a look:

 Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be)Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Frequency Bands2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz2.4GHz, 5GHz
Maximum Speed40Gbps9.6Gbps6.9Gbps
Maximum Channel Bandwidth320MHz (6GHz)
320MHz (6GHz + 5GHz)
240MHz (5GHz + 5GHz)
160MHz160MHz
QAM Signals409610241024
MU-MIMO Streams1688
TechnologiesMLO, 4K QAM, AFC, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, TWT, RTWTQAM, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, TWTQAM, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, TWT

Why Do We Need Wi-Fi 7?

Wi-Fi 5 is widely available across smartphones, IoT devices, PCs and laptops, smart home devices, and many more. However, the tech is almost a decade old and the newer Wi-Fi 6 and 6E haven’t penetrated much into the ecosystem. Wi-Fi 7 would unlock the potential possibilities that we could do on our devices.

WiFi 7

Since Wi-Fi 7 will bring faster internet speeds, can connect to a hoard of devices at once, and offers reduced latency, these features are delightful, especially for those who use a lot of Wi-Fi-enabled devices in a home or office. Wi-Fi 7 will be able to serve sensors and surveillance instruments hosted by government and private agencies while allowing a seamless connection between the devices and the servers. As we are venturing into AR and VR which require a lot of bandwidth, unleashing the Wi-Fi 7 protocol can give you a boost when compared to the previous generations.

When will Wi-Fi 7 Launch?

When it comes to the launch, it is still under development. Thus, there’s a tentative year available for its launch aka 2024. There’s no exact date confirmed at least at the moment. Some of the pre-certified routers are expected to hit the shelves in late 2023 followed by the Wi-Fi 7 launch next year (in 2024).

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