How does Wi-Fi 7 work?

Wi-Fi 7, also known as Extremely High Throughput (EHT), is the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, building on Wi-Fi 6 and 6E. Wi-Fi 7 aims to deliver major improvements in speed, capacity, latency, reliability and coverage while remaining backwards compatible with previous Wi-Fi generations.

How does Wi-Fi 7 work?

How Wi-Fi 7 Achieves Faster Speeds

Wi-Fi 7 utilizes wider bandwidth channels up to 320 MHz compared to 160 MHz in Wi-Fi 6/6E. This expanded channel size doubles the maximum possible data rates. Additional technologies like 4K QAM, Multi-Link Operation and 4096 QAM also boost throughput.

Wider Bandwidth Channels

By combining contiguous frequency bands into a larger 320 MHz channel, more data can be transmitted at one time. 320 MHz channels on the 6 GHz band enable maximum speeds up to 30 Gbps, over 2.4X faster than Wi-Fi 6.

4K QAM Technology

4K QAM increases the number of bits encoded in each waveform, allowing faster transfer of data. It can encode 14 bits per waveform instead of the maximum of 10 bits in Wi-Fi 6.

Multi-Link Operation

With multi-link, devices can transmit data across different bands like 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz simultaneously. This divides traffic, reduces congestion and enhances overall performance.

4096 QAM

In pristine radio conditions, Wi-Fi 7 can leverage 4096 QAM to encode 12 bits per waveform instead of 1024 QAM’s 10 bits in Wi-Fi 6. This small optimization further accelerates peak data rates.

Enhanced Reliability

Wi-Fi 7 delivers more reliable connections in challenging environments like public venues through uplink MIMO and improved OFDMA.

Uplink Multi-user MIMO

Wi-Fi 7 supports uplink MU-MIMO which allows multiple client devices to transmit data to the access point simultaneously. This reduces latency for upload-heavy apps.

Improved OFDMA

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access schedules transmissions avoiding interference. Enhancements in Wi-Fi 7 boost OFDMA efficiency especially in congested networks.

Reduced Power Consumption

Wi-Fi 7 aims to reduce battery drain through features like Preamble Puncturing, Multi-Resource Unit Puncturing and Dynamic Fragmentation.

Preamble Puncturing

Preamble Puncturing omits transmitting unnecessary preamble information, conserving device energy.

Multi-Resource Unit Puncturing

Similarly, puncturing reduces sending needless data in OFDMA transmissions, saving power.

Dynamic Fragmentation

With Dynamic Fragmentation, lower-powered client devices can request the access point send transmissions as smaller fragments rather than at once. This allows the client to sleep between fragments, preserving batter life.

Backwards Compatibility

A key benefit of Wi-Fi 7 is backwards compatibility with earlier generations through Multi-Gen operation. Wi-Fi 6E or legacy 2.4 GHz clients will still connect to a Wi-Fi 7 access point or router. However, they can’t access the fastest Wi-Fi 7-exclusive features.

When is Wi-Fi 7 Coming Out?

Wi-Fi 7 products and devices are expected to roll-out over 2023 and 2024. The Wi-Fi Alliance is currently finalizing certification with mass adoption anticipated by the end of 2024.

The Benefits of Upgrading to Wi-Fi 7

For both consumers and businesses, upgrading provides:

  • Faster file downloads, 4K/8K streaming
  • Improved VR/AR experience
  • Enhanced video conferencing quality
  • Next-gen smart home connectivity
  • Reduced latency for gaming, voice commands
  • Greater support for IoT devices
  • Increased capacity for high-density public venues

While Wi-Fi 6 routers still provide good performance, Wi-Fi 7 solutions will future-proof networks for cutting-edge applications and devices over the next decade.

Conclusion

With game-changing speed, capacity and reliability improvements through technologies like wider 320 MHz channels, uplink MIMO, 4096 QAM and advanced OFDMA scheduling, Wi-Fi 7 aims to take wireless connectivity to new heights. While availability launches in 2023, Wi-Fi 7 will widely replace Wi-Fi 6 over the coming 2-3 years, bringing multi-gigabit speeds to next-gen devices for consumers and enterprises alike.

Key Takeaways:

  • Wi-Fi 7 enables speeds up to 30 Gbps, over 2.4X faster than Wi-Fi 6 through a combination of wider 320 MHz channels and 4K QAM, Multi-Link operation among bands, improved 4096 QAM and more.
  • Reliability enhancements like uplink MU-MIMO, better OFDMA and features like Preamble Puncturing aid battery life for a complete step-up over Wi-Fi 6.
  • Upgrade timing launches 2023-2024 with certification finalizing.
  • Wi-Fi 7 future-proofs connectivity for the latest devices, applications, smart homes, enterprises and high-density locations over the next decade.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is Wi-Fi 7?
    Wi-Fi 7, also known as Extremely High Throughput (EHT), is the upcoming next-generation Wi-Fi protocol, building on Wi-Fi 6/6E. It focuses on very high-speed connectivity along with improvements to capacity, latency, reliability and coverage.
  2. How much faster is Wi-Fi 7 than Wi-Fi 6?
    Wi-Fi 7 enables maximum theoretical speeds up to 30 Gbps, over 2.4X faster than the peak rates of under 14 Gbps with Wi-Fi 6 using 160 MHz channels. Real-world speeds will be proportionally faster as well.
  3. How does Wi-Fi 7 achieve such high speeds?
    Key technologies in Wi-Fi 7 like wider 320 MHz channels, 4K QAM, Multi Link allowing simultaneous transmission across bands, improved 4096 QAM and enhanced OFDMA scheduling work together to dramatically boost throughput.
  4. When will Wi-Fi 7 products be available?
    Wi-Fi 7 hardware and devices are expected to launch through 2023 and 2024, with certification nearing completion. The standard should be finalized in 2024. Mainstream adoption is anticipated by the end of 2024.
  5. What devices will support Wi-Fi 7?
    Future flagship smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs and next-generation smart home devices will integrate Wi-Fi 7. High-end routers and enterprise-grade Wi-Fi infrastructure will also adopt Wi-Fi 7.
  6. Will Wi-Fi 7 be backwards compatible with Wi-Fi 6 and older standards?
    Yes, Wi-Fi 7 is fully backwards compatible. Wi-Fi 6 or even Wi-Fi 4 devices can still connect to a Wi-Fi 7 router or access point. However legacy clients can’t access the fastest Wi-Fi 7-exclusive features.
  7. What are the benefits of upgrading to Wi-Fi 7?
    Faster speeds enhance 4K/8K streaming, VR/AR, gaming, large file downloads and multi-tasking. Lower latency improves responsiveness. Greater bandwidth enables more devices. Increased reliability assists mission-critical enterprise apps. Wi-Fi 7 future-proofs for next-gen experiences.
  8. Is Wi-Fi 6 still good enough or worth upgrading devices/infrastructure to Wi-Fi 7?
    Wi-Fi 6 provides excellent performance and network capacity for today’s needs in most homes and offices. However, upgrading to Wi-Fi 7 future-proofs networks for emerging Wi-Fi hungry use cases. It prevents the need for another upgrade cycle down the road as new trends like 8K streaming and VR take off.
  9. How does uplink MU-MIMO aid Wi-Fi 7 performance?
    Uplink Multi-user MIMO enables multiple client devices to transmit data to the Wi-Fi router/access point simultaneously. This reduces latency for upload-heavy mobile and productivity apps, especially on congested networks.
  10. Can Wi-Fi 7 offer the reliability needed for self-driving cars?
    Wi-Fi 7 targets high-precision, low latency reliability to potentially assist autonomous vehicles with capabilities like uplink MU-MIMO, spatial reuse enhancements and interference mitigation. However, further testing is required to evaluate feasibility for actual self-driving car deployment at scale.
  11. How does Wi-Fi 7 reduce battery drain?
    Optimizations including Preamble Puncturing, Multi-Resource Unit Puncturing and Dynamic Fragmentation omit needless transmissions. This conserves power on client devices. Smart scheduling maximizes sleep time for IoT devices as well.
  12. What frequency bands will Wi-Fi 7 support?
    Current expectations are that Wi-Fi 7 will leverage the existing 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz frequency bands. Potential for additional spectrums like 7 GHz or 60 GHz bands is also under consideration for the future.
  13. Can I upgrade just my router/access point to Wi-Fi 7?
    You can upgrade your Wi-Fi router or access points to Wi-Fi 7. However, you would still need Wi-Fi 7-compatible client devices like smartphones, PCs, and laptops to access the fastest features exclusively supported in the new standard.
  14. How much will Wi-Fi 7 routers or devices cost?
    Pricing is not yet confirmed, but Wi-Fi 7 compatible products will likely see a price premium over Wi-Fi 6 gear, at least initially. The magnitude should be comparable to Wi-Fi 6’s launch – higher but with proportional speed, capacity and future-proofing advantages.
  15. Is Wi-Fi 7 the final word or will an even newer standard follow in the future?
    While Wi-Fi 7 sets the bar higher than ever before, technology inevitably marches forward so faster successors are expected. However given typical timeframes, Wi-Fi 7 will likely meet needs for 5-10 years before anything meaningfully faster emerges.
  16. Can Wi-Fi 7 offer connectivity speeds and reliability exceeding Ethernet?
    Potentially – Wi-Fi 7 with maximum channel sizes and technologies approaches Ethernet-grade speeds – exceeding 10 Gigabit in theory. Lower latency from uplink MU-MIMO and reliability gains also help Wi-Fi 7 get closer to the performance of wired connectivity.
  17. What will the faster speeds of Wi-Fi 7 empower or enable?
    Ultra-high-speed Wi-Fi 7 opens doors for 8K video streaming, AR/VR experiences, advanced smart home automation, new enterprise mobility applications and more. Even just practically, Wi-Fi 7 eliminates connectivity bottlenecks for today’s uses as devices and data demands grow.

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