Networking devices with Wi-Fi 6 becoming more widely available and affordable Tech companies are already planning to incorporate Wi-Fi 7 into their products and services.
This new standard — currently known as 802.11be — focuses on Extremely High-Throughput (EHT) that can aid real-time apps with high data speeds. The IEEE working group said it’ll help services in virtual reality, augmented reality, gaming, and remote working.
In its current form, here’s how Wi-Fi 7 will compare to Wi-Fi 6 (and even Wi-Fi 6E).
For the uninitiated, Wi-Fi 6 is the standard current standard present in many routers that support 9.6Gbps data transfer speeds — as compared to 3.5Gbps of Wi-Fi 5 — and higher throughput. It’s important to note that Wi-Fi standards use Gigabits per second as a measure, vs. GigaBytes per second (GBps). So it’ll take 8 seconds for you to download a 1GB file at 1Gbps speed.
Wi-Fi 6E is largely built on Wi-Fi 6 but it also includes support for 6 GHz spectrum. It also has high-bandwidth channels and supports multiple devices on one high-speed network. It is available here.
Keep in mind that the standard is in the draft stage, and the final specifications might be different when they’re published.
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 7
Don’t worry if you don’t immediately grasp every spec below. I’ll explain them all in a second.
- Speed of data transfer 9.6Gbps vs. 46Gbps (approx.)
- Channel bandwidth: 160MHz vs. 320MHz
- Number of full-bandwidth channels 7 vs. 6
- Multi-user MIMO spatial streams: 8 vs. 16
- Data transmission 1024-QAM vs. 4096-QAM
What does it mean?
First, 46Gbps is theoretically the maximum data transfer speed. Real-life speeds will probably reach around 40Gbps. Technically, you can download Bluray quality movies up to 25GB in less than a minute.
The second is the impact of bandwidth and number on data exchange between devices. This will affect how many devices can be connected to a single network point, without affecting speed.
Next-gen Wi Fi will have 16 antennas to receive and transmit data. It’s important to keep in mind that most phones and laptops have a 2×2 MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) — two antennas for receiving (input) and two for transmitting (output) — configuration for Wi-Fi.
Having a 16×16 router could aid more devices with simultaneous 2×2 streams with a high data transfer speed and minimal interruptions.
QAM stands for Quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) — a type of digital modulation for data exchange in telecommunication. It transmits data using symbols that contain a certain number of bits. The higher the number, more data can be transmitted in a given cycle. The 4K-QAM can transmit 12 bit per symbol, compared to 10 bits in 1024-QAM. This is especially useful for dense environments such as stadiums, where multiple devices are trying connect to the network.
Wi-Fi 7 relies on multi-link technologies to solve network congestion. Wi-Fi currently supports three channels. One in the 2.4GHz band, two in 5GHz bands (or one in each of the 5GHz or 6GHz bands for Wi-Fi6). Based on your device’s usage, one channel will connect to you.
Wi-Fi 7-enabled devices can switch between the different multi-link techniques to find the best bands for a transfer. This allows for a lower reliance on one channel and results in faster speeds and less congestion.
Another technique is to combine results from multiple bands and simultaneously use them. Qualcomm says this is the best way for multiple devices to be connected to Wi-Fi 7, without any disadvantages.
Preamble puncturing is a feature that will allow devices to use wider channels in the Wi-Fi standard. By default, there’s already a provision to use 320MHz channels in Wi-Fi 7. To make a wider network, devices can combine two 160MHz channels with one channel at 80MHz or one channel at 160MHz.
Qualcomm’s senior director of engineering, Andy Davidson, said this is useful for countries like China where the 6GHz band is not available for commercial use. “This results in more capacity to handle multiple devices and higher speed for data transfers,” he said.
When can Wi-Fi 7 reach us?
Wi-Fi 7 is still in its draft specification stage. It will be at least a few more years before we can experience this technology. It must be used at its maximum capacity. it’s imperative that the 6GHz band is unlicensed in your region, meaning you can use devices utilizing Wi-Fi 6E.
The spectrum is being allocated to countries like the US, Canada and the UK.
But this hasn’t deterred tech companies from tinkering with Wi-Fi 7. MediaTek last night announced that it had begun demonstrating capabilities of the upcoming standard to key customers. However, it didn’t give out many details about the experiment.
According to Taiwanese companies, Wi-Fi 7 devices powered by Wi-Fi 7 are likely to be available on the market in 2023.. These could be prototypes or business tools. So don’t hold your breath.
You can read Wi-Fi 7’s full specifications in the current draft here.