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What is Wi-Fi 7? All about the next Wi-Fi standard

The seventh generation of Wi-Fi is on the horizon. But what is Wi-Fi 7?

Read on to learn everything you need to know about Wi-Fi 7, including what it is, how it compares to Wi-Fi 6 and when you can expect Wi-Fi 7 to reach your devices. 

What is Wi-Fi 7? 

Wi-Fi 7 represents the seventh generation of Wi-Fi based on the upcoming IEEE 802.11be standard. It follows on from Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, an organisation that exists to promote wireless technologies, Wi-Fi 7 “focuses on physical (PHY) and medium access control (MAC) improvements capable of supporting a maximum throughput of at least 30 Gbps to increase performance, enable Wi-Fi innovations, and expand use cases”. 

The standard will also offer reduced latency and jitter across AR/VR, 4K and 8K video streaming, automotive, cloud computing, gaming and video applications. 

What is the difference between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7? 

You can expect Wi-Fi 7 to offer faster speeds and lower latency across the board compared to Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. 

Like Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7 will support the 6GHz band, providing twice as many channels as the 5GHz one. However, Wi-Fi 7 could deliver peak rates of over 40Gbps, says Qualcomm. That’s 4x higher than those supplied by Wi-Fi 6E. 

Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System hero

The maximum bandwidth is also set to increase from 160MHz to 320MHz, making it possible for compatible routers to transmit more data at a time. This means you’ll be able to connect more devices without worrying about how this could affect performance. 

Wi-Fi 7 will support a new feature called Multi-Link Operation, which will allow routers to use multiple bands to connect to one device for better efficiency. This will also improve performance and reduce latency.

Finally, there’s 4K-QAM. This is a step up from the 1024-QAM supported on Wi-Fi 6, meaning you can expect an up to 25% data rate boost from Wi-Fi 7. 

When will Wi-Fi 7 be available? 

Wi-Fi 7 isn’t expected to become widely available until 2024, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t already building the technology into their devices. 

Most recently, Qualcomm announced that its newest flagship smartphone chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, would support Wi-Fi 7 with High Band Simultaneous (HBS) Multi-Link for faster performance and “VR-class low latency”. 

However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to jump on Wi-Fi 7 right away. Both your router and your device will need to support Wi-Fi to make the most of the newest standard and you shouldn’t expect manufacturers to make that transition overnight. It could be years before Wi-Fi 7 becomes a part of your daily life. 

As with previous Wi-Fi generations, Wi-Fi 7 will be backwards compatible with devices in the 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz spectrum bands.

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