Wi-Fi 7 Has Just Been Released. Here’s What it Means for You
The next generation of wi-fi is here, and as expected, it’s a major upgrade over wi-fi 6e, which was the previous standard. Wi-fi 6e came out in 2020, and with it, an improvement in wi-fi technology in just about every category (we’ll get to the specs later).
Wi-fi 6 came before that, and as you can imagine, 5, 4 and so on going back to the first iteration of wi-fi—wi-fi 1. With each iteration being separated by a few years, it’s time for the baton to be passed once again to the latest version.
What Exactly is Wi-fi 7?
Wi-fi 7 is technically known as 802.11be, which is an upgrade across the board from 802.11ax (extension), which is wi-fi 6e. The difference between these two can be summed up by saying that wi-fi 7 offers expanded bandwidth, much higher data transfer speeds, and all around faster and more stable wi-fi connectivity.
In order to understand how wi-fi has improved, we’ll break it down into the following categories.
MU-MIMO stands for multiple user, multiple input and multiple output. This essentially allows multiple users to send and receive information on the same network at the same time.
The standard with wi-fi 6e was 8 users. That’s being doubled to 16 users simultaneously being able to send/receive data.
1024QAM to 4K-QAM
QAM stands for quadrature amplitude modulation, which is basically a method of sending and receiving data. This capacity has been increased by around 20%, meaning faster wi-fi speeds.
Expanded Spectrum for 6 GHz Band
Wi-fi 7 offers 320MHz as opposed to the 160MHz from its predecessor. With a larger channel, more data can be transmitted at a time, which translates to faster speeds, less latency and more reliability.
MLO stands for multi-link operation. This is a brand new feature with wi-fi 7 that allows the router and connected devices to combine the use of all frequencies (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz) simultaneously for what you might call a super connection.
These frequencies were previously only available one at a time. You may have seen the same network showing up as two or three options (eg. NETWORK 2.4 or NETWORK 5G).
To quickly summarize the difference, 2.4 GHz is better for use through walls and at longer distance, while the 5G which actually stands for 5 GHz and is not related to the “5G” used in cell towers, is better for devices that are closer to the router. The 5G connection allows for faster speeds and more data transfer but isn’t as good at reaching far away devices.
6 GHz offers more bands and essentially a bigger, better version of the 5 GHZ network.
Now, MLO lets devices connect to and use all three, 2.4g, 5G, and 6g, meaning much more data can be transferred at a time, greatly increasing the capacity for connection speeds and simultaneous data transfer.
Not only that, which bands being used can be adjusted to ensure the most stable connections and highest speeds available.
Qualcomm 10G Fiber Gateway Platform
Along with wi-fi 7, new state of the art hardware will soon come out that supports 10 gbps broadband connectivity, is scalable, and supports open-source software so that IoT developers can have the flexility they need to include support for their devices.
Is it Worth Upgrading to Wi-fi 7?
If you’re currently using an older router, for example, wi-fi 6 (2018), and you do a lot of streaming or have been experiencing some problems in terms of load times for things like 4K videos, it could be worth the upgrade.
However, for the most part, wi-fi 7 is more of a ‘tech of the future’ than a necessity for the average user. It’s a luxury and it would be nice to have the boosted speeds and longevity, but for most people, it’s not yet necessary to make the switch.