Wi-Fi 7 looks set to roll out in early 2023, which means the wait is almost over.
What is Wi-Fi 7?
Wi-Fi 7 marks 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, retaining all of their features (such as support for 6GHz), while adding a few extras to make your internet connection even faster and more reliable.
Qualcomm says it will be capable of delivering peak rates of over 40 Gbps, which is a 4X increase over Wi-Fi 6E. This is thanks to the use of a wider 320MHz channel when using a 6GHz band, whereas Wi-Fi 6E is limited to a 160Hz channel. A wider channel allows routers to transmit more data at once – similar to how increasing the width of a motorway will allow more cars to drive on it simultaneously.
Wi-Fi 7 will also 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.
Previously, you’d have to assign a single band (eg 6Ghz, 5GHz, 2.4-GHz) to each device. But with Wi-Fi 7, you’ll be able to combine two bands together to ensure an optimal performance and reduce latency. Such a feature would be wasted on something like a smart speaker, but may be useful for gamers to get the best Wi-Fi connection possible.
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.
Wi-Fi 7 will be backwards compatible, so devices using a Wi-Fi 6 (or older) antenna will still work.
When will Wi-Fi 7 be available?
In order to start using Wi-Fi 7, we need to wait for both the launch of compatible routers, as well as new devices that will support the latest wireless technology.
Back in January 2023, companies such as Asus, MSI and TP-Link all unveiled new Wi-Fi 7 routers that are expected to launch in early 2023. Expect these routers to cost a lot of money though, with the new Deco BE85 tri-band mesh router system priced at $999.99 for a two-pack.
The Xiaomi 13 Pro is one of the only smartphones confirmed to feature the new wireless standard so far, and will be arriving in Europe on 8th March 2023. More phones are expected to get support throughout the year, but we’re still a long way from wide adoption.
And don’t even think about buying a Wi-Fi 7 laptop anytime soon, with no options currently on the market. AMD, Intel or Qualcomm will need to bake the wireless technology into their chips before any laptop can benefit from the technology, and that isn’t expected to happen until the tail end of 2023 at the absolute earliest.
But even once supported routers and devices are available to buy, it’s probably not a good idea to invest in the technology right away due to the high cost. For now, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E are still perfectly good options instead.