WiFi 7: The Next-Gen Wireless Standard Key Highlights

WiFi 7 or 802.11be is coming to CES 2022 in early January next year at the courtesy of Taiwanese company Mediatek. And while WiFi 6 is yet to break into the mainstream but its successor is already teasing the world with its next-gen capacities. WiFi 7 will bring much higher throughput capacity, low latency, better video streaming, online gaming, and better signal efficiency. Find the key features, highlights, specifications of the next-generation wireless standard: Wifi 7 below.

Wifi 7 key features
WiFi 7 key features| Image courtesy: Intel Corporation

Key WIfi 7 Features

WiFi Alliance has recently announced certification for WiFi 6E – an extension to the regular WiFi 6 but what its successor WiFi 7 can bring is already giving us food for thought. In nutshell, WiFi 7 will erode the current wireless standards for good. These WiFi standards (802.11) keep changing with improvements but WiFi 7 will be the one that requires our attention. Mediatek is bringing the next-gen WiFi 7 at the upcoming CES 2022 in early January which will turn the current Wireless standards relic. Here we explain the key highlights of WiFi 7 below.

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Extreme High Speed

One of WiFi 7’s major assets would be no doubt its bandwidth capacity. WiFi 7 will reportedly rock a 30 Gbps bandwidth. This is 3 times higher than that of WiFi 6 which max out at 9.7 Gbps.

WiFi 7 highlights
WiFi 7 dubbed as Extremely High Throughput proposal

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) develops the 802.11 standards which we call WiFi for ease of use. It develops the WiFi standards which WiFi Alliance certifies with labels such as WiFi 5 WiFi 6, or WiFi 6E. This group has currently proposed a 30 Gbps speed in its authorization request.

Currently, this WiFi standard is dubbed as 802.11be Extremely High Throughput. Although the tag WiFi 7 has not been fixed yet, we know the patterns over the years. Looking at the remarkable leap in its speed and building on the previous WiFi standard, 802.11be should and would be called WiFi 7 as it debuts at the upcoming CES 2022.

320 MHz Transmission

WiFi 7 comes with a 320 MHz transmission capacity compared to 160 MHz in WiFi 6/WiFi 6E. This increased width is available on a 6 GHz band which brings three 320 MHz channels.

ParameterWiFi 6WiFi 7
Max Channel Bandwidth160 MHz320 MHz (3 channels in 6 GHz)
Modulation order1024-QAM4096-QAM
Number of Spatial Streams816
Maximum Data rate (Theoretically)9.6 Gbps46.1 Gbps
Transmission comparison between WiFi 6 & WiFi 7

What Does It Mean?

It means WiFi 7 doubles the base speed from 1.2 Gbps to 2.4 Gbps per stream in 320 MHz.  That translates to 9.6 Gbps of bandwidth with a 4×4 transmitting antenna. WiFi 7 also supports twice the amount of data streams. That means the 6 GHz band itself can deliver up to over 40 Gbps bandwidth due to 4K-QAM support. More on this below.

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4K-QAM Support

Another key highlight of 802.11be or WiFi 7 is its ability to support 4 times the 1024-QAM of WiFi 6. As a result, Wi-Fi 7 will have a much higher speed and efficiency than previous standards.

QAM or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation helps with spectrum usage efficiency. The higher QAM results in higher throughput performance. However, this requires supporting hardware to receive or transmit the signal.

Multi Link Operation (MLO) Is The Real Deal

Another key highlight of WiFi 7 is its Multi-Link Operation or MLO feature. Akin to carrier aggregation on mobile networks, MLO allows combining two bands – such as 2.4GHz and the 5GHz, or 5GHz and 6Ghz, into one Wi-Fi network.

And that’s not all. The aggregated link is available in two modes: load balance or failover.

Load balance combines both bands into a single link. If you want the fastest possible speed all the time through your hardware, this is it.

The ‘failover MLO’ is more intriguing in WiFi 7. This makes it possible to avoid a signal drop in a brief disconnection. This is the true handoff we are talking about and it is looking to be possible with the next-gen WiFi 7.

Besides, MLO also guarantees low latency as it exploits the use of multiple bands concurrently.

Backward Compatible

WiFi 7 will be backward compatible. That means if you have unsporting hardware, it will still connect to it however with limited capacities.

Besides, we can expect more improvements on WiFi 7 but not much is still there to be exact. When we find more, we will update them here.

Takeaway : WiFi Generations

IEEE has been creating Wireless Standards since 1997 with the first being IEEE 802.11. Later generations optimized its frequency for better coverage and signal capacities. In technical terms, wireless communications are known with the prefix 802.11 and the next-gen standard denoted by letters.

However, for our ease of understanding, they are labeled as WiFi 4, WiFi 5, or WiFi 7. The last has not been officially labeled. Its current phrase is WiFi Extreme Throughput Efficiency. But that sums up its capacity. And it is most likely that it will be called WiFi 7.

IEEE StandardYearFrequencyData capacityAlso known as
802.11a19995 GHz54 MbpsWiFi 2
802.11b19992.4 GHz11 MbpsWiFi 1
802.11g20032.4 GHz54 MbpsWiFi 3
802.11n20092.4 GHz & 5 GHz600 MbpsWiFi 4
802.11ac20142.4 GHz & 5 GHz1.3 GbpsWiFi 5
802.11ax20192.4 GHz & 5 GHz9.7 GbpsWiFi 6
802.11be2022 (reportedly)2.4 GHz, 5 GHz  & 6 GHz30 GbpsWiFi 7
Evolution of WiFi standards

Mediatek is set to announce WiFi 7 at CES next year at CES 22. However, IEEE plans to launch the full version of the 802.11be standard in 2024 and should also see its commercial roll out at the same time. WiFi Alliance will then release its certification program at that time for security and other standards.

IEEE plans to release the 802.11be amendment sometime in 2024, with commercial deployment occurring around the same time. Then, just like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, the Wi-Fi Alliance will release its Wi-Fi 7 certification program to ensure interoperability and security standards.

WiFi 6 is slowly reaching widespread use with the latest smartphones and other hardware. In this, WiFi 7 is already started buzzing threatening its own relevancy for a long duration. But technology never stops and with succeeding, technology comes better efficiency to the end-users.

What are your expectations with WiFi 7 over the current standard you are using? Do share with others in the comments below.

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