What is Wi-Fi 7

TL;DR*:

  • Faster speeds: about 3.6 times faster than Wi-Fi 6 on 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz
  • Up to 40Gbps speeds
  • Wider bandwidth, across multiple bands (MLO)
  • Lower latency, even in congested environments
  • Improvements to worst-case latency & jitter

* abbreviation: too long; didn’t read: used by the writer before a summary of lengthy text.

While for most Wi-Fi 6E is the new kid on the block, Wi-Fi 7 is already being designed, built and tested and is expected to make its big wireless debut at Mobile World Congress 2023 (with potentially the first Wi-Fi 7 phones)!

Wireless networking is everywhere. More than ever, Wi-Fi impacts our daily lives, at home, at the office, in schools, hospitals, sports stadiums, train stations, at factories, in cars.

A few Wi-Fi numbers from 20211:

  • 4.2 billion devices were shipped
  • 18 billion devices were in use, globally
  • 2.2 billion Wi-Fi 6 devices were shipped
  • 338 million Wi-Fi 6E devices were shipped
  • 63% of mobile traffic was offloaded to Wi-Fi
  • 540+ million global public access points

Wi-Fi had a projected economic value of over 3.3 trillion USD, expected to grow to 4.9 trillion USD by 2025.

A fair conclusion: we love our wi-fi, and it’s about to get even better, faster, stronger and more secure.

1 Source: Wi-Fi Alliance® and Telecom Advisory Services for Wi-Fi Alliance®

A brief history of Wi-Fi

  Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi 6E Wi-Fi 7
Launch date 2013 2019 2021 2024 (expected)
IEEE Standard 802.11ac 802.11ax 802.11ax 802.11be
Max data rate 3.5 Gbps 9.6 Gbps 9.6 Gbps 46 Gbps
Bands 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz
Channel size 20, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160 MHz 20, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160 MHz 20, 40, 80, 80 + 80, 160 MHz Up to 320 MHz
Spectrum interference mitigation no no Preamble puncturing (optional) Preamble puncturing (RU-based)
Modulation 256-QAM OFDM 1024-QAM OFDMA 1024-QAM OFDMA 4096-QAM OFDMA (with extensions)
MIMO 4×4 MIMO DL MIMO 8×8 UL/DL MU-MIMO 8×8 UL/DL MU-MIMO 16×16 UL/DL MU-MIMO
RU no RU (single per STA) RU (single per STA) Multi-RUs
Multi-link operation no no no yes

New in Wi-Fi 7

Increase in speed, responsiveness and the explosion of connected devices demands high performance wireless access. Computing is shifting closer to the user, reshaping end-to-end network performance and latency requirements.

  • Faster speeds: about 3.6 times faster than Wi-Fi 6 on 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz
  • Up to 40Gbps speeds
  • Wider bandwith, across multiple bands (MLO)
  • Lower latency, even in congested environments
  • Improvements to worst-case latency & jitter
  • Enhanced privacy and security

Wi-Fi 7 is designed for general internet usage, live and streaming video, video conferencing, cloud applications, gaming, virtual reality and mixed reality, gaming, businesses, large buildings, factories, smart appliances and much more.

Wi-Fi 6 set the stage with capabilities achieving single-digit millisecond latency, and with the introduction of features like multi-link and 320 MHz channels in Wi-Fi 7, latency will be reduced even more!

Multi-link

Wi-Fi 7 throughput boost

Wi-Fi 7 introduces a unified framework to manage multiple links in a way that allows an optimized use of resources across multiple links, which results in:

  • Throughput boost
  • Latency improvement
  • Increased reliability
  • Traffic seperation/differentiation

Preamble puncturing

Significantly improves throughput in environment with interference by not transmitting power in occupied bands while still allowing wide channels to be partially used.
While optional and uncommon in Wi-Fi 6 – and limited to blocks of 20, 40 or 80 MHz – Wi-Fi 7 enhances this feature by allowing it at the RU-level. This allows for carving out thin slices of (interfered) spectrum.

Wi-fi 7 preamble puncturing

Enhanced Qos Management

Wi-Fi 7 will introduce a QoS management framework to enable multiple applications with requirements of low worst case latency, jitter, reliability, priority.

Get ready for Wi-Fi 7!

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