As the next wireless standard, Wi-Fi 7 will soon find its way into Best Wi-Fi Routers and the The best network routers. its predecessor, Wi-Fi 6Eis just starting to gain traction mostly due to the way it has impressed power users with its ability to provide over 2 gigabits per second (Gbps) of wireless data.
Wi-Fi 7 takes things a step further by combining three data bands, ultra-wide data channels, and using multiple data channels together for greater productivity. This gives the next wireless standard the possibility to usher in a new era of connectivity and reliability that can push wired communications aside.
Picking up where Wi-Fi 6E left off, Wi-Fi 7 will incorporate many of the tricks of the previous standard GHz spectrum while adding a few of its own. That’s all you need to know about Wi-Fi 7.
What is Wi-Fi 7?
Technically known as the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE) 802.11be (Opens in a new tab)Wi-Fi 7 uses the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz spectrum bands and has been nicknamed “EHT” for its extremely high-throughput wireless signal.
The emerging Wi-Fi7 specification has the potential to more than quadruple the total bandwidth that a wireless network can achieve. Details are still being worked out, but the potential bandwidth of Wi-Fi 7 will likely be between 30 and 40 Gbps.
This is several times more than the 10GBase-T Ethernet standard’s maximum limit of 10Gbps and could tie into Thunderbolt 4’s ability to transfer 40Gbps of data. The big difference is that Wi-Fi 7 will do all of that without wires.
Features and Specifications of WiFi 7
In addition to new technologies to reduce network latency (delay in network response) and instability (difference in latency), the new specification appears to have something for everyone. It includes supporting a greater density of connections, increasing spectrum efficiency and making Wi-Fi more reliable.
Although this seventh generation of Wi-Fi technology is still subject to change in the next couple of years as IEEE 802.11be specifications, hardware and software become a far cry, key Wi-Fi 7 components and capabilities are coming into focus.
The 160MHz data channel of Wi-Fi 6 (also known as IEEE 802.11ax) can help satisfy the intense gamer at home as long as you have one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers, but it comes at the cost of connecting many Regular channels with a width of 20, 40 and 80 MHz. (Wider channels can transmit more data.)
Wi-Fi 6E doubles on data channels as wide as 160MHz by adding the ability to take advantage of seven of these channels in the 6GHz frequency band. If that’s not enough, Wi-Fi 7 adds up to three 6GHz data channels that are 320MHz wide and can each move at 2.4Gbps. (Here’s a comparison between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E.)
Wi-Fi 7: More Streams, More Devices, More Antennas
Wi-Fi 7 specifications break new ground with Multi Link Operation (MLO), which is similar to carrier aggregation used by mobile phone providers to increase data throughput by combining the capabilities of separate channels.
According to Intel, MLO can raise data rates seven times while reducing latency and improving reliability because the associated channels run in parallel.
While Wi-Fi 6 can handle up to eight independent streams of data, Wi-Fi 7 bumps that up to 16 spatial streams. It uses the Multi-User MIMO (CMU-MIMO) format, which is a huge step forward from Multiple Input Multiple, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO).
This should satisfy the most demanding users while allowing those around them to do more casual tasks, such as searching for recipes online or business emails.
As if to add more to the Wi-Fi 7’s alphabet soup, the new specification uses technology called a Multi-User Resource Unit (MRU) to avoid interference. It allows selective perforation of overlapping parts of the spectrum to allow data to flow only on the clear frequencies. It can help raise data rates and reliability in crowded Wi-Fi environments, such as a crowded apartment building or office.
The secret advantage of how Wi-Fi 7 works is how data is triggered and removed from the router’s carriers, which is where Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) comes into play. Instead of Wi-Fi 6’s 1024-QAM, Wi-Fi is used. The number 7 will increase the airwave data density using 4096-QAM technology. It should have the ability to use up to four times as much data at the same frequencies.
On the downside, the price to pay for adding all these Wi-Fi 7 transmission tricks is that the next generation of routers may need twice as many antennas to route all those data streams in and out. With 12 antennas already on the inside of the Wi-Fi 6E-capable Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, the next generation of routers runs the risk of getting too crowded with twenty or more antennas.
Wi-Fi 7: Breaking the 10 Gbps barrier
On the other hand, these antennas may be doubled, hidden inside the router case, or used as a design element. As you can see with the current eight TP-Link Archer GT AXE11000 outdoor antennas.
“The first generation of Wi-Fi 7 routers could be a little big,” said James Chen, associate vice president of product marketing at MediaTek, a Wi-Fi chip maker. “But over time, it will look a lot like what we use today.”
Recently, MediaTek showed off alpha-level silicon for its upcoming Filogic line of Wi-Fi 7 chips to provide a peek at what’s on the way. The new chips reached peak throughput of around 10Gbps in demo, about four times what today’s best routers can do.
With such a large bandwidth, Wi-Fi 7 can play a role as a mainstay for home data. They can make legacy wired connections while providing enough data to be used in applications such as HD video streams and simulated worlds using virtual and augmented reality goggles.
“This is just the beginning,” said Chen of MediaTek.
Wi-Fi 7: High speed internet plans required
To get the most out of Wi-Fi 7, home users will need to upgrade their data plans beyond the 100Mbps broadband the maximum offered by ISPs in many regions. Otherwise, all that extra speed will be wasted, and your new steering gear will be like a Ferrari trying to make its way through a muddy swamp.
While gigabit per second bandwidth is likely to be a starting point, plans like AT&T 5Gbps Fiber Optic Service (Opens in a new tab) It rolls out nicely in the way of Wi-Fi 7. Unfortunately, AT&T 5Gbps home service costs $180 a month — three times the cost of the average data plan in the US.
“High-speed Internet access will be key to Wi-Fi 7,” adds Chen of MediaTek.
When will Wi-Fi 7 routers arrive?
The entire Wi-Fi 7 proposal is based on the design, manufacture, and testing of the next generation of Wi-Fi chips. Expect major chip makers including Broadcom, MediaTek, Qualcomm and more to create their own circuitry to make Wi-Fi 7 a reality in the best Wi-Fi routers and client devices like phones, tablets and laptops. Expect to see 3-band and quad-band designs for traditional routers and high-performance networking clusters.
Unfortunately, at a time when the world is starving for semiconductor products of all kinds, it may take longer than expected to remove this generation of Wi-Fi technology from the CAD screen and commercialize it. Look for the first Wi-Fi 7 products to appear sometime in late 2023 or early 2024.
There may be a happy shift in timing. Because few devices can make the most of Wi-Fi 6E, “some manufacturers can get around Wi-Fi 6E and go straight to Wi-Fi 7,” MediaTek’s Chen offers.
Either way, it will ultimately still be another case of urgency and waiting for the newest, fastest Wi-Fi protocol to make it a reality. One thing is for sure: We’ll be here to test out the first Wi-Fi 7 routers and devices as soon as they become available.