Technical explanations

What is Wi-Fi 7: How it beats 6E and why you should care

Many companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek, TP-Link, and other manufacturers are working on bringing Wi-Fi 7, but should you start buying Wi-Fi compatible devices?

The final version of Wi-Fi 7, also known as 802.11be, is on track to get approval from the IEEE Working Group in 2024. But tech brands aren't waiting for an official standard; Router and chipset manufacturers are already pushing to build Wi-Fi 7 compatible devices as soon as possible by 2023.

Since Wi-Fi 6E routers have only recently gone on sale, it's fair to wonder if the new standard will live up to the hullabaloo surrounding Wi-Fi 7 from CES 2023.

We've spoken with brands like Qualcomm and MediaTek about how they work with this technology. Devices will benefit from the new technology, and will detail how exactly Wi-Fi 7 works and whether or not a Wi-Fi 7 router will actually work for you.

What is Wi-Fi 7?

Right now, there is no official Wi-Fi 7 standard, since the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is still voting on what features will appear in the final standard. But most brands are already releasing "Wi-Fi 7 products" that meet the candidate features proposed by the association rather than waiting for official 802.11be compliance.

The seventh generation of Wi-Fi promises significant improvements over Wi-Fi 6 and 6E and can deliver speeds up to four times faster. It also includes smart advancements to reduce latency, increase capacity, and enhance stability and efficiency.

Wi-Fi 7 is IEEE 802.11be in the old naming convention, where Wi-Fi 6 was IEEE 802.11ax, and Wi-Fi 5 was IEEE 802.11ac.

Like previous standards, Wi-Fi 7 will be backward compatible. But to take advantage of the new features and the improved performance it promises, you'll need to upgrade your hardware.

This means buying new routers and access points, not to mention new smartphones, laptops, TVs, etc.

You can also see the best WE router settings A detailed explanation of how to set up a WE router.

Wi-Fi 7 features

You might, understandably, be wondering what sets Wi-Fi 7 apart from Wi-Fi 6E, which promises broadly the same advantages over previous standards by unlocking the 6GHz band. Especially since Wi-Fi 7 will use the same three bands 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz.

Here are some of the new features and upgrades you can expect to see in Wi-Fi 7:-

320MHz Bandwidth:

Twice as wide as the 160MHz channel enabled by Wi-FI 6E, the 320MHz standard doubles the throughput that the network can support. Compared to Wi-Fi 6 and according to IEEE estimates, Wi-Fi 7 can provide up to 4.8 times higher data rates.

This is the primary feature of Wi-Fi 7 and it will provide a huge boost to anyone still using Wi-Fi 5 routers.

4K-QAM:

Compared to Wi-Fi 6 with 1024-QAM, Wi-Fi 7 goes up to 4096-QAM, which means faster data transfer.

The higher the QAM, the faster the data transmission, but also the shorter the signal range. So this criterion will apparently be optional.

MU-MIMO improvements:

MU-MIMO is becoming multi-user and multi-input and multi-output, but Wi-Fi 7 will support more simultaneous streams. Wi-Fi 6 routers can have up to 8 streams, but Wi-Fi 7 doubles that capacity to 16.

Multi-Link support:

Perhaps the most exciting upgrade in Wi-Fi 7 is Multi-Link Operation (MLO).

Each previous Wi-Fi standard establishes a connection between two devices within one range. Even a tri-band Wi-Fi 6E router connects two devices on one band on a fixed channel (the router decides whether to connect on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz band).

Multi-Link can combine multiple frequencies across bands into a single connection. A Wi-Fi 7 router can communicate with a Wi-Fi 7 device over two or more channels on different bands simultaneously. Multi-Link enables wider channels capable of transmitting more data.

Speed ​​isn't always the priority, but Multi-Link Operation also allows for more efficient performance. A Wi-Fi 7 router can take congestion and other interference into account and transmit on the best channel to bypass it, switching to maintain a stable connection and low latency.

Multi-Link Operation may also help mitigate the relatively short range of the 6GHz band.

Wi-Fi 7 also improves existing technologies such as OFDMA, MU-MIMO, and TWT.

How fast is Wi-Fi 7?

By doubling both the bandwidth and MU-MIMO streams of Wi-Fi 6—to a maximum speed of 9.6Gbps—plus offering an additional 20% boost of 4K-QAM, Wi-Fi 7 enables numbers and upgrades that we mentioned, delivering speeds 4.8 times faster with a maximum speed of 46 Gbps.

If you clear the QAM factor due to its limitations, you still have a 40Gbps cap for Wi-Fi 7 routers if your network supports it.

In practice, it will depend entirely on what routers are coming to market and what speed the chips inside are able to reach.

For example, TP-Link has announced a wide range of Wi-Fi 7 routers coming in 2023, including the 33Gbps Deco BE95 mesh router, the 24Gbps Archer BE900, and the 11Gbps Deco. BE65-5G.

This shows how Wi-Fi 7 routers will benefit from back-end improvements but will differ in the amount of speed they can reach for certain bands such as 5GHz and 6GHz. You should still buy the most expensive routers to get the best Wi-Fi 7 performance.

Wi-Fi 7 release date?

The first Wi-Fi 7 routers will begin rolling out as early as 2023. While you won't feel the benefit of a Wi-Fi 7 router until you have compatible hardware, since new Wi-Fi 7 routers are backwards compatible, it might make sense For people currently considering an expensive Wi-Fi 6E system, it will handle 6E connections but also provide some future proofing.

Prices for compatible Wi-Fi 7 routers

TP-Link announced an entire line of Wi-Fi 7 routers, including the quad-band Archer BE900 ($700), which features a distinctive X-shaped design with a customizable LED grille and touch screen.

The upcoming TP-Link device features two 10Gbps ports and four 2.5Gbps ports and combined speed across bands of up to 24Gbps (the 6GHz band goes up to 11Gbps, there are two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band).

TP-Link also revealed an Archer GE800 Gaming router and three mesh systems from Deco that will set you back $1,200, which is pretty hefty.

On the hardware side, Qualcomm has a Wi-Fi 7 chipset and Networking Pro Series platform, which can provide up to 33Gbps of quad-band connectivity over 16 streams.

Partners are already working to integrate their technology into smart devices. Broadcom and MediaTek also announced Wi-Fi 7 technologies in their future devices.

More vendors will no doubt announce their plans in the coming months as the new standard is confirmed and officially designated by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Even when Wi-Fi 7 arrives, Wi-Fi 6 won't keep the competition away. The two will likely coexist as complementary technologies for many years to come due to the higher costs of Wi-Fi 7 devices.

Khaled Taha

A tech writer, technology enthusiast, and a good follower of what's new in the smartphone world. I have been working in the field of electronic journalism since 2013 and until now, I have worked in many technical sites and I am currently working on the website (Review Plus).
Subscribe
Notify of
0 comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
زر الذهاب إلى الأعلى