What Is Wi-Fi 7? Benefits and Use Cases of the Next Generation Wi-Fi Standard
In this article, we introduce you to Wi-Fi 7, the next generation Wi-Fi standard. We explain how it differs from Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E and go over some of the anticipated benefits and use cases. Here’s what we cover:
- What is Wi-Fi 7?
- What Are the Benefits of Wi-Fi 7?
- What Are Some Wi-Fi 7 Use Cases?
- Which Bands Will Wi-Fi 7 Operate On?
- How Fast Will Wi-Fi 7 Be?
- What Is the Difference Between Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6?
- What Is the Difference Between Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6E?
- When Will Wi-Fi 7 Be Available?
- Can Pareteum’s Wi-Fi SmartConnect Solution Access Wi-Fi 7?
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What is Wi-Fi 7?
Wi-Fi 7 is the next generation Wi-Fi standard, succeeding Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 6. Its technical name is IEEE 802.11be EFT (Extremely High Throughput), indicating that it is an amendment to the original 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 6, for their part, both fall under the 802.11ax standard.
This new standard will employ a variety of new technologies and protocols to reduce latency, increase network capacity, and boost efficiency. It is especially committed to lightning-fast connections and improving user experiences for use cases like live streaming and gaming.
What Are the Benefits of Wi-Fi 7?
From a consumer’s perspective, new Wi-Fi standards rarely re-invent the wheel. Just like Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, the latest iteration will simply improve upon its predecessors in three critical areas:
- It will be faster.
- It will support more connections.
- It will offer lower latency performance.
What Are Some Wi-Fi 7 Use Cases?
The benefits listed above will manifest in a variety of ways. For instance, higher throughput and lower latency will facilitate higher quality streaming and video, smoother cloud gaming experiences, and more sophisticated augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.
Wi-Fi 7 will also mitigate network congestion and Wi-Fi interference. This means it will deliver better connectivity experiences in areas with high device density and with numerous overlapping networks. Think: office buildings, shopping malls, airports, and other large venues.
Which Bands Will Wi-Fi 7 Operate On?
Wi-Fi 7 will operate on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz radio bands. However, the biggest advance from Wi-Fi 6E is that the new standard will double the number of MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) streams to 16, enabling the standard to handle more throughput than its predecessors.
Moreover, the new standard will mitigate network traffic and interference with Multi-Link Operation (MLO) technology. This will improve throughput and reduce latency by enabling devices to simultaneously send and receive data over multiple radio bands as though they were a single, aggregated connection.
Finally, it may also offer a Restricted Target Wake Time feature, enabling routers to reserve bandwidth for specified data transmissions. This should help to optimize network resources and conserve client battery life.
How Fast Will Wi-Fi 7 Be?
While previous Wi-Fi standards offered incremental speed increases over their predecessors, Wi-Fi 7 is committed to lightning-fast connections. Nothing is set in stone yet, but current estimates have it delivering nominal peak data rates in excess of 40 Gbps. Assuming this is correct, that would make it four times faster than Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, and six times faster than Wi-Fi 5.
In addition, as noted above, it will employ a variety of innovative technologies and protocols to reduce latency, increase network capacity, and boost efficiency. Many of these are merely tweaks to things that were already introduced when Wi-Fi 6 came out in 2020. These include:
- Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA).
- Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO).
- Restricted Target Wake Time (TWT).
We have covered MU-MIMO and TWT already, so let’s focus on OFDMA here. Indeed, the latest iteration of Wi-Fi will take OFDMA to a whole new level. Introduced with the initial Wi-Fi 6 standard, OFDMA is a protocol that enables routers to handle more devices by using available spectrum more efficiently. But, while OFDMA enables Wi-Fi 6 to optimize data transmissions at the router level, Wi-Fi 7 will be able to coordinate data transmissions across multiple access points operating within networks.
What Is the Difference Between Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6?
Wi-Fi 7 will be faster than Wi-Fi 6. Much faster, in fact. While estimates vary, they typically place its speed in the 40 Gbps range, which would make it four times faster than Wi-Fi 6. Moreover, it will offer reduced latency, increased capacity, and better stability and efficiency.
But how will this be accomplished? Well, the new standard will…
- Facilitate more data streams than Wi-Fi 6.
- Introduce CMU-MIMO.
- Make use of the 6GHz frequency band.
More Data Streams Than Wi-Fi 6
As noted above, Wi-Fi 7 will support twice as many data streams as Wi-Fi 6. More specifically, it will support 16 streams to Wi-Fi 6’s 8. (We’ll explain this in more detail in a moment).
Next, Wi-Fi 7 will introduce something called Coordinated Multi-User MIMO (Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output), or simply “CMU-MIMO.” This is a new feature designed to cater to the current mesh networking trend in which multiple access points are used in a single wireless network. CMU-MIMO allows users to make full use of networks by diverting data streams to different access points simultaneously.
Make Use of the 6 GHz Frequency Band
Like Wi-Fi 6, the latest iteration will be able to use the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. However, to obtain greater communication bandwidth, Wi-Fi 7, like Wi-Fi 6E, will also be able to access the 6GHz band.
What Is the Difference Between Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6E?
Next, let’s look at how the latest and greatest Wi-Fi standard differs from Wi-Fi 6E, which promises many of the same advantages over Wi-Fi 6. Here the notable differences are that Wi-Fi 7 will…
- Support wider channels than Wi-Fi 6E.
- Have higher Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).
- Leverage Multi-Link Operation (MLO).
Wider Channels Than Wi-Fi 6E
Wi-Fi frequency bands are typically broken up into multiple 20 MHz channels. The 2.4 GHz band, for instance, is composed of 11 20 MHz channels, while the 5 GHz band is composed of 45. In some cases, these channels can even be combined, as in the 5 GHz band, which can support 40 MHz and 80 MHz channels.
However, it’s in the 6 GHz band that Wi-Fi 7 separates itself from Wi-Fi 6E. Indeed, the 6 GHz band is composed of 60 20 MHz channels. While Wi-Fi 6E supports channels as wide as 160 MHz, its successor will be able to support 320 MHz channels.
Why does this matter? Well, the wider the channel, the more data it can transmit. An effective way to visualize this is to imagine the amount of traffic that can be supported by a three-lane freeway versus a six-lane freeway.
Higher Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)
Wi-Fi 7 will support 4K QAM, up from the 1024 QAM offered by Wi-Fi 6E. In case you are unfamiliar with the jargon, QAM is an abbreviation for “Quadrature Amplitude Modulation,” a method for transmitting and receiving data in radio-frequency waves. In plain terms, the higher the QAM, the more information that can be transmitted.
That said, as QAM increases, range decreases. This means a stronger signal will be required to maximize the potential of the updated Wi-Fi standard. Nevertheless, at peak performance, it will offer data rates 20% higher than Wi-Fi 6E.
Leverage Multi-Link Operation
Multi-Link Operation (MLO) is the most significant advance that will arrive with Wi-Fi 7. All previous Wi-Fi standards establish single-band connections between devices. Even tri-band Wi-Fi 6E routers, which automatically determine whether to connect on the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, or 6 GHz band, connect devices on a single band on a fixed channel.
But MLO will enable Wi-Fi 7 to combine several frequencies across bands into a single connection. This means Wi-Fi 7 routers will be able to connect to Wi-Fi 7 devices across multiple channels in different bands simultaneously.
MLO will therefore further optimize speed and efficiency by enabling Wi-Fi 7 routers to actively address congestion and interference issues. Indeed, they will be able to bypass many of these problems by transmitting on the best channels and switching channels to maintain stable connections and low latency.
When Will Wi-Fi 7 Be Available?
It’s still a good way off. The first compatible devices and routers will not be rolled out for another year or so.
Still, investments are growing at a fast clip. Qualcomm recently unveiled a Wi-Fi 7 chipset, along with a new “Networking Pro Series” platform, which the semiconductor manufacturer says will be able to deliver 33 Gbps of quad-band connectivity over 16 streams. Not to be caught straggling, companies like Broadcom and MediaTek have announced similar technologies.
But do not expect Wi-Fi 6 to be swept away by its successor anytime soon. The standards will likely coexist as complementary technologies for the time being. And, of course, new standards are sure to shake things up even further. So, stay tuned!
Can Pareteum’s Wi-Fi SmartConnect Solution Access Wi-Fi 7?
While the standard has not yet been rolled out, the Pareteum Wi-Fi SmartConnect app will be able to connect to Wi-Fi 7 routers and access points managed by our connectivity partners. This means your business travelers, rewards program members, and other SmartConnect users will be able to access the benefits of faster, lower latency Wi-Fi wherever our providers deploy it.
For those who don’t know about our Wi-Fi SmartConnect app, it’s a global Wi-Fi connectivity solution that offers secure access to the largest aggregated Wi-Fi network on the planet, with intelligent network selection for an always best-connected experience. It enables you to:
- Boost enterprise productivity and reduce mobility costs.
- Create high-value customer loyalty offerings.
- Keep Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart City deployments connected in areas that cellular struggles to reach.
- Enhance mobile / cellular offerings with Wi-Fi offload.
To learn more about Wi-Fi SmartConnect, click here!
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