Is there Wi-Fi 8?

Wi-Fi technology has come a long way since its inception in 1997. We’ve gone from the early days of 802.11b to the latest mainstream version, 802.11ac, also known as Wi-Fi 5. Each new version brought faster speeds and more advanced capabilities.

Is there Wi-Fi 8?

This has led many to wonder: What’s next? Will there be a Wi-Fi 8 standard? Let’s take a look at the evolution of Wi-Fi and what we might expect from future versions.

A Brief History of Wi-Fi Standards

Here is a quick overview of the key Wi-Fi standards over the years:

  • 802.11b – Released in 1999, operates on the 2.4 GHz band with speeds up to 11 Mbps.
  • 802.11a – Released in 1999, operates on the 5 GHz band with speeds up to 54 Mbps.
  • 802.11g – Released in 2003, operates on the 2.4 GHz band with speeds up to 54 Mbps. Backwards compatible with 802.11b.
  • 802.11n – Released in 2009, operates on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz with speeds up to 600 Mbps. Introduced MIMO technology.
  • 802.11ac – Released in 2013, operates only on the 5 GHz band with speeds up to 6.93 Gbps. More advanced MIMO and improved signal encoding.

As you can see, Wi-Fi standards progressed from 11 Mbps in 1999 to nearly 7 Gbps by 2013. Each version delivered around 10x faster speeds than the previous one.

Will There Be a Wi-Fi 8 Standard?

The short answer is: Yes, eventually. However, it will not be called Wi-Fi 8.

Here’s why:

The Wi-Fi Alliance, the organization that oversees Wi-Fi standards, made an important branding change in 2018. At that time, they announced that future versions will no longer use sequential numerical naming like 802.11n or 802.11ac.

Instead, they will be branded simply as “Wi-Fi”, along with the year of release. The next version is called Wi-Fi 6, expected in 2019.

So in summary:

  • There will not be a standard called “Wi-Fi 8”
  • The next version is Wi-Fi 6 (not Wi-Fi 8)
  • After that, we will see Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi 8, etc, but no sequential numbers

This new naming scheme helps avoid confusion and keeps things simple going forward.

Key Improvements in Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) brings some significant improvements over current 802.11ac networks:

  • Faster top speeds – Maximum theoretical throughput increases to 9.6 Gbps compared to 6.9 Gbps with 802.11ac.
  • Better performance in dense environments – Advanced technologies like OFDMA allow more devices to share the spectrum efficiently.
  • Improved power efficiency – Wi-Fi 6 is optimized to consume less power across the board, important for battery-powered devices.
  • Backwards compatibility – Wi-Fi 6 access points and devices will work on existing Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 networks.

Wi-Fi 6 is an evolutionary improvement over Wi-Fi 5. It builds on the foundation of 802.11ac MIMO and beamforming capabilities. The performance gains will be most noticeable in environments with many connected devices like public hotspots, stadiums, and colleges.

For home networks, you may only see marginal differences at first. However, as more Wi-Fi 6 client devices come to market, the benefits will become more apparent.

What Comes After Wi-Fi 6?

Looking beyond Wi-Fi 6, we can expect even more advanced versions like Wi-Fi 7, Wi-Fi 8, etc. While the specifications are still early, here is a taste of what future generations may bring:

Wi-Fi 7

  • Expected release: 2022
  • Also known as 802.11be
  • Maximum speeds up to 30 Gbps
  • Uses wider 320 MHz channels and 4K QAM modulation
  • Leverages 6 GHz band in addition to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

Wi-Fi 8

  • Expected release: 2026
  • Details still speculative
  • Speeds potentially over 100 Gbps
  • New modulation schemes beyond 1024-QAM
  • More spectrum bands, such as terahertz
  • Expanded use of MU-MIMO and beamforming

As you can see, there remains a lot of room for innovation. Each version will build on the last to deliver faster speeds, lower latency, and support for more devices.

The demand for Wi-Fi connectivity will only increase over time. More devices are coming online each year, and data usage continues to grow exponentially. Wi-Fi standards will evolve to keep pace with our demands.

When Will I Get Wi-Fi 8?

Wi-Fi 8 is still several years away from becoming mainstream. The Wi-Fi Alliance has not even finalized the specifications yet. Once ratified, it takes time for hardware manufacturers to roll out new routers and devices.

Here is a reasonable timeline for Wi-Fi 8 adoption:

  • 2026 – Wi-Fi 8 standard officially released
  • 2028 – First Wi-Fi 8 compatible routers and devices hit the market
  • 2030 – Wi-Fi 8 becomes widely available in newer smartphones, laptops, etc.
  • 2032 – Wi-Fi 8 overtakes Wi-Fi 6 as the dominant home Wi-Fi standard

Of course, this is just an estimate. The timeline could accelerate or slip depending on technological progress and industry adoption rates.

For most consumers, Wi-Fi 6 will provide plenty of performance for the next 5 years or more. Power users may adopt Wi-Fi 7 routers as early as 2024. But Wi-Fi 8 likely won’t become mainstream for the average household until the early 2030s.

Should I Wait for Wi-Fi 8?

Wi-Fi 8 promises impressive speeds and technology advances. But should you wait for it before upgrading your network?

For most people, no you should not wait. Here are three key reasons why:

  1. It will be several years before Wi-Fi 8 is mainstream. Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7 will be the dominant standards through the late 2020s. Wi-Fi 8 may not reach most homes until 2030 or later.
  2. Your devices must support it. To benefit from Wi-Fi 8, you’ll need clients like phones and laptops with Wi-Fi 8 radios. These will trickle out slowly over 2028-2032.
  3. Wi-Fi 6 is a major upgrade. Wi-Fi 6 delivers significant improvements in speeds, capacity, and efficiency over Wi-Fi 5. For the next 3-5 years, Wi-Fi 6 will provide top-notch performance.

For these reasons, don’t wait idly for Wi-Fi 8 before upgrading. If your network is outdated, upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 now to reap the benefits. Wi-Fi 7 may offer some incremental benefits when available around 2024-2025. At that point, you can consider upgrading again to stay on the cutting edge.

Key Takeaways on Wi-Fi 8

  • There will not be an official standard called “Wi-Fi 8”. The next versions are Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 7, etc.
  • Wi-Fi 8 will arrive sometime around 2026, bringing speeds over 100 Gbps.
  • However, it will not reach mainstream adoption until the early 2030s.
  • Wi-Fi 6 brings major improvements in speed, capacity, and efficiency over Wi-Fi 5. It’s recommended to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 today.
  • There’s no need to wait idle for Wi-Fi 8, unless you always demand cutting edge network technology.

Conclusion

Wi-Fi technology will continue evolving for many years, bringing faster speeds and more advanced capabilities. While Wi-Fi 8 will not arrive until around 2026, the preceding Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7 standards will still offer outstanding performance.

For most users, Wi-Fi 6 is recommended today and will remain a top-notch option for 3-5 years. Only those demanding the absolute cutting edge may want to upgrade again to Wi-Fi 7 down the road. But even in the Wi-Fi 8 era, Wi-Fi 6 networks will remain strong choices.

The key is not to wait around for the “next big thing”. Take advantage of current Wi-Fi standards and enjoy tremendous connectivity today.

FAQs

Q: What speed will Wi-Fi 8 support?
A: Expected speeds for Wi-Fi 8 are over 100 Gbps, a big leap from Wi-Fi 6’s 9.6 Gbps.

Q: When is Wi-Fi 7 coming out?
A: Wi-Fi 7 is expected to be finalized in 2022 and hit the mainstream consumer market around 2024-2025.

Q: Do I need a Wi-Fi 8 router to get Wi-Fi 8 speeds?
A: Yes, you will need both a Wi-Fi 8 compatible router and Wi-Fi 8 capable devices like smartphones and laptops to enjoy the fastest speeds.

Q: Should I buy a Wi-Fi 6 router now or wait for Wi-Fi 7?
A: Wi-Fi 6 is recommended for most users today. However, If you typically keep routers 5+ years, waiting for Wi-Fi 7 could provide more future-proofing.

Q: How fast will mainstream internet speeds be by the time Wi-Fi 8 comes out?
A: With the continued rollout of fiber optic and 5G, many homes should have 1 Gbps+ internet connections by the early 2030s Wi-Fi 8 era.

Q: What new spectrum bands will Wi-Fi 8 use?
A: Wi-Fi 8 will likely utilize new high-frequency bands such as 6 GHz or terahertz for additional capacity and speed.

Q: Will Wi-Fi 8 work with existing Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 devices?
A: Yes, Wi-Fi 8 is expected to be backwards compatible with earlier Wi-Fi generations, just at slower Wi-Fi 5/Wi-Fi 4 speeds.

Q: Does Wi-Fi 8 mean the end of ethernet cables?
A: No, Wi-Fi 8 does not spell the end of ethernet. Ethernet will continue to offer faster speeds and lower latency than even Wi-Fi 8 for demanding applications.

Q: What companies are developing Wi-Fi 8 technology?
A: Key players driving Wi-Fi 8 standards include Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek, Intel, and Marvell.

Q: Will Wi-Fi 8 eliminate dead zones in my house?
A: Wi-Fi 8’s faster speeds and expanded capacity will help, but eliminating dead zones usually requires additional access points and better placement.

Q: Will Wi-Fi 8 use less power than Wi-Fi 6?
A: Yes, improved power efficiency is expected with each new Wi-Fi generation. This helps extend battery life on phones, laptops, and other connected devices.

Q: How much will Wi-Fi 8 routers and devices cost when first released?
A: As with any new technology, expect Wi-Fi 8 devices to carry a premium price when first launched, potentially $100-200+ more than Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 7 equivalents.

Q: Does Wi-Fi 8 mean I can stop using 5G cellular networks?
A: No, Wi-Fi 8 and 5G serve different purposes. 5G provides ubiquitous mobility, while Wi-Fi 8 offers faster speeds in fixed locations. We’ll use both technologies together.

Q: Will Wi-Fi 8 work with Bluetooth technology?
A: Yes, Wi-Fi 8 will be designed to co-exist alongside Bluetooth for short-range accessories and IoT devices. The two technologies complement each other.

 

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