Wi-Fi 7 is the next version of the IEEE 802.11 wireless local area network (WLAN) standard. This new version is expected to replace Wi-Fi 6E sometime in 2024. When it does, it will offer significant improvements over previous versions, including faster speeds, support for more connections, and more reliable low-latency performance.
Wi-Fi 6E was introduced in 2020. When it replaced Wi-Fi 6, it opened up the 6GHz radio frequency band, adding it to the already present 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
Wi-Fi 7 operates on those same three bands but does so with a maximum link rate capable of transferring data at speeds up to 46,120 megabits per second (Mbps). Clocking in at a max link rate of only 9,608Mbps, the current Wi-Fi 6E standard pails in comparison.
The same, but better
The new Wi-Fi 7 standard (aka “802.11be” if you’re using the original terminology) lends itself to feeding the Internet of Things (IoT), which requires many simultaneous connections and cloud gaming that thrives on high speed and low latency.
Seventh-generation Wi-Fi will also be better at delivering high-quality video and serving augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) apps that require high throughput and low latency.
For enterprise applications, Wi-Fi 7 will offer less congestion and interference in areas with many devices and nearby networks.
In fact, the new WLAN protocol offers quite a few improvements over its predecessors, including:
- Multi-link operation (MLO) which has the ability to combine several frequencies across bands into a single connection. In other words, a Wi-Fi 7 device can be connected to a Wi-Fi 7 router across two or more channels in different bands simultaneously. This allows it to send and receive data faster and more efficiently.
- Wider Channels that offer the ability to transmit more data. The recently added 6GHz band can support 60 channels, each up to 320MHz.
- Higher Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) will provide more robust signals and extended range. Wi-Fi 7 brings with it 4K-QAM, a considerable increase over the maximum 1024-QAM previously available in Wi-Fi 6.
And now, we wait
As is always the case with new versions of Wi-Fi, only those who upgrade both their networking infrastructure and devices will get all the benefits it offers.
For consumers, that means not only switching to a Wi-Fi 7 router but also upgrading to Wi-Fi 7-enabled computers, phones, tablets, IoT devices, AR and VR goggles, and anything else that connects to the Internet.
It’s not the cheapest way to go. But it certainly will be the fastest.