HomeTechnologyNewsWhat is it and how fast will it be?

What is it and how fast will it be?

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Although Wi-Fi 6E still feels cutting-edge in early 2023, Wi-Fi 7 is just around the corner, and sporting speeds that can make transfer speeds obsolete with Ethernet cables. Let’s take a look at the proposed specification and what it promises.

What is Wi-Fi 7? How fast is it?

Wi-Fi 7 is a new specification for Wi-Fi devices currently under development. It is based on the draft 802.11be standard, published in May 2021, which has not yet been finalized or approved by the FCC.

The most striking feature of Wi-Fi 7 is that it could make wired Ethernet connections obsolete for a certain class of home and professional users: the first live demo of the standard in early 2022 showed some mind-blowing speeds.

In theory, Wi-Fi 7 can support bandwidth of up to 46 gigabits per second (Gbps) per access point, which is just five times faster than Wi-Fi 6’s maximum 9.6 Gbps speed (also known as 802.11ax). The draft authors call this “Extremely High Performance,” or EHT.

Currently, commonly available wired Ethernet technology tops out at 10 Gbps (10GBASE-T), though it basically doesn’t exist in consumer devices right now. And while higher speeds (such as Terabit Ethernet) exist in specialized environments like data centers, their arrival in the home or small business environment, if it ever happens, is probably a long way off.

So for current Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet users, Wi-Fi 7 could replace the need for wired connections in optimal conditions, though purists and power users are likely to continue using wired connections for the foreseeable future.

RELATED: Wi-Fi 6: What’s different and why it matters

What else is great about Wi-Fi 7?

In addition to the theoretical potential of Wi-Fi 7’s blazing-fast speeds, the Wi-Fi Alliance plans to include other notable enhancements to the Wi-Fi standard.

Full utilization of the 6 GHz band

Full use of the new “6 GHz Band” (currently 5.925–7.125GHz), was first supported in Wi-Fi 6E. Currently, the 6GHz band is only occupied by Wi-Fi applications (although that could change), and using it generates significantly less interference than the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands.

even lower latency

The draft Wi-Fi 7 specification aims for “lower delay and higher reliability” for time-sensitive networks (TSN), which is essential for cloud computing (and cloud gaming). It is also a fundamental requirement to replace wired Ethernet connections.

While Wi-Fi 6 already offers significant improvements over Wi-Fi 5 in the latency department, the goal of Wi-Fi 7 is to provide consistent single-digit millisecond latency to all devices across the entire network, and not only for devices in the optimal coverage area.

Load balancing with multi-link operation

Wi-Fi 7 offers Multi-Link Operation (MLO) with load balancing and aggregation that combines multiple channels on different frequencies to deliver better performance.

This means that a Wi-Fi 7 router will be able to use all available bands and channels dynamically to speed up connections or avoid bands with high interference. This improvement, along with the others listed here, is how Wi-Fi 7 can achieve a maximum theoretical performance of three times that of Wi-Fi 6.

Upgrades to 802.11ax

According to the draft specification, Wi-Fi 7 will offer direct improvements to Wi-Fi 6 technologies, such as 320 MHz channel width (versus 160 MHz in Wi-Fi 6), which enables faster connections. fast and 4096 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) that allows more data to be packed into each hertz.

Answers to your questions about WiFi 7

Talking about specs is fun, but for everyday use people have much more specific questions. Let’s take a look at the most frequently asked questions we receive about Wi-Fi 7.

Is it backward compatible?

The Wi-Fi 7 draft specification details support for legacy devices in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands, which means you won’t need entirely new devices or hardware to connect to a Wi-Fi-enabled device. Fi 7. routers

Just as your Wi-Fi 5 devices work on a Wi-Fi 6 network (and, conversely, your Wi-Fi 6 devices work on a Wi-Fi 5 network), the Wi-Fi 7 standard continues the tradition of cross generation. compatibility. However, naturally, you won’t get all the benefits of Wi-Fi 7 unless you’re using a Wi-Fi 7 device with your Wi-Fi 7 router.

Is it significantly better than Wi-Fi 6 and 6E?

On paper and in lab tests with compatible equipment, yes, Wi-Fi 7 is significantly better than previous Wi-Fi standards.

However, as with all previous generations of Wi-Fi, you won’t see the full benefits of Wi-Fi 7 until you pair it with Wi-Fi 7 hardware. That said, Wi-Fi 6 optimizations that We mentioned in the previous section will help Wi-Fi 7 routers provide an even better experience for Wi-Fi 6 devices on your network.

Is Wi-Fi 7 more secure?

Given the amount of facts and figures you have to consider when comparing Wi-Fi generations against each other (as well as the seemingly limitless number of routers out there), it’s easy to get confused about security standards.

The Wi-Fi standard is independent of the security standard, Wireless Protected Access (WPA) that modern Wi-Fi hardware uses. Wi-Fi 5 supports WPA2, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E support WPA3, and Wi-Fi 7 will ship with WPA3 support. (In theory, a WPA4 is on the distant horizon, but as of now you’ll find little more than a passing reference in the form of “WPA4 (TBD)” sprinkled here or there in the whitepapers.)

In short, when you buy a new Wi-Fi 7 router, it will have the latest Wi-Fi security available, and it will be as secure (or more secure) than your current router, depending on how old the replaced router model is.

Should I buy a Wi-Fi 7 router as soon as they are available?

If you’re using an older Wi-Fi router, especially one that’s struggling to keep up with the increasing demands of your home, you’ll probably want to get a Wi-Fi 7 router.

However, if you recently bought a good Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E router, there’s no rush. While the Wi-Fi 7 standard has clear benefits, even if you’re an edge user who embraces new technology as soon as it comes out, it’s going to be a while before you see tangible benefits from changing your home. Switch to Wi-Fi 7 if you already have Wi-Fi 6 or higher.

Chasing performance benchmarks is fun, but in real-world applications, you only need limited bandwidth to watch YouTube videos on your phone or sit through a Zoom call at work.

So if you have a dusty old mid-tier router that you bought off-the-shelf at Best Buy over 5 years ago, consider upgrading it. But if you’re already on a current, premium setup, feel free to hang around for a while and wait for the prices of Wi-Fi 7 (and more end devices to support it) to drop.

When will Wi-Fi 7 be available?

With all this information in hand, the last million dollar question remains. When can you buy a Wi-Fi 7 router?

According to a CES 2023 press release from MediaTek, Wi-Fi 7 is now ready for production. Advertisements from major router companies back it up. In November 2022, TP-Link announced a line of Wi-Fi 7 routers. And at CES 2023, ASUS announced two premium Wi-Fi 7 routers. TP-Link routers are planned to be available in early 2023, with Wi-Fi 7 routers from other manufacturers arriving later in 2023.

In the meantime, you can already buy routers that support Wi-Fi 6 (and Wi-Fi 6E), which is still impressive compared to previous Wi-Fi standards. We have written a guide covering the best routers on the market. Whichever path you choose, it’s clear that exciting times lie ahead for wireless networking.

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