Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) – About four times faster than Wi-Fi 6


The 802.11ac standard, which corresponds to Wi-Fi 5, is now used by a significant portion of Web users. You may want to upgrade to 802.11.ax or Wi-Fi 6 because things have changed significantly in the past year. Currently, getting a router that supports this technology at a reasonable price is not a problem. The increase in available bandwidth, worldwide Wi-Fi network optimization, and decreased latency are significant benefits. The new Wi-Fi 6E equipment with enhanced functionality and the incorporation of the 6 GHz band will be on sale very soon. Wi-Fi 7 is, on the other hand, much closer than you would think, and we’ll learn about all of its capabilities as well as the new standard’s top speed in this guide.

What can we expect from the new WiFi 7 standard?

This 802.11be standard currently has a draft that describes the technical implementation necessary to meet the set objectives. Thus, in the field of companies, it is expected to benefit IoT and IIoT applications, industrial automation, surveillance, and remote control. Additionally, it could be used for future virtual reality, augmented reality, and other video-based applications that require high bandwidth, lowest possible latency, and highest connection reliability.

As for home users, we could also benefit from WiFi 7 in online gaming thanks to its lower latency. But that’s not all; we also have smart home services and, in addition, applications for virtual reality and augmented reality.

We should expect a faster actual transfer rate and lower latency with the new 802.11be standard. We will also have greater spectrum efficiency and better energy efficiency, which WiFi 6 already has, thanks to OFDMA and TWT (Target Wake Time). Another aspect that we will also have is that we will have better mitigation of interference thanks to the BSS Coloring that WiFi 6 already has. We will be able to have many more devices connected simultaneously without the WiFi network becoming slow.

802.11be or WiFi 7 standard technologies

The EHT preamble and packet format in the universal signal field (U-SIG) will provide forward compatibility for future changes in frame formats and transmission timing. In addition, it will facilitate the support for multiple PHY frame formats within the same wireless network.

In Wi-Fi 7, we will have a maximum channel width of up to 320 MHz. Thus, after doubling the maximum size of the channel with respect to Wi-Fi 6 (in the 5GHz and 6GHz band, the maximum channel width is 160MHz), we will be able to double the actual performance of the connection. In this case, it allows channels of 160 + 160 MHz, 240 + 80 MHz, and 160 + 80MHz to combine non-adjacent spectrum blocks. This means that it is unnecessary for these to be contiguous, which will be useful to add channels with little use distributed throughout the frequency band, either 5GHz or the new 6GHz band available from the Wi-Fi standard. 6E.

The 16 MU-MIMO antennas, Compared to 8 that Wi-Fi 6 has at most, can double performance in some scenarios. Also, more antennas mean higher speed, but we will also have better penetration of the Wi-Fi signal. Thus, having a signal with less noise in points close to the router could modulate to 4096-QAM, which translates into a significant increase in actual speed. We must remember that the Wi-Fi 6 standard allows up to 1024QAM in all frequency bands.

An Enhanced OFDMA with respect to the one introduced in the Wi-Fi 6 will increase the efficiency of the spectrum and reduce the latency. Hence, it will vastly improve the experience and support of the most demanding users. This will be accomplished by allowing resource units to be allocated to a single Wi-Fi station under OFDMAS, which will be made more flexible. Multi-Access Point Coordination in which it is possible to improve the use of resources, spectrum, reliability, performance, and latency thanks to the coordination between neighboring access points. Coordination can include OFDMA, SR, TDMA, BF, and joint processing.

With Multi-link operation MLO, the devices can transmit and receive simultaneously through different frequency bands and channels, separating data and control planes. Again, thanks to the parallel links, the device’s performance is increased, its latency is reduced, and its reliability is improved. Also, those data streams can be assigned to specific links depending on the program or device.

Maximum speed comparison between the WiFi 7 and WiFi 6 standards

Some may wonder why we need these speeds that Wi-Fi 7 is going to provide us. The answer is yes, since every time we demand greater bandwidth to watch our streaming content at a higher resolution, and we also have more devices connected to the wireless network. In addition, it is necessary to improve latency and for various activities such as gaming, which will be highly appreciated in order not to suffer LAG, in addition to video calls or VoIP calls.

In the following table you can see the evolution that the WiFi network has undergone from the WiFi 4 standard to the latest draft of WiFi 7, which is now officially available.

Thanks to Wi-Fi 6, we can get data speeds of 9.6 Gbps, as long as we use a router with 8 antennas and a channel width of 160MHz. Currently, the maximum speed of the 5GHz band is 4.8Gbps because there is no Wi-Fi router or access point that has more than 4 spatial streams.

On the other hand, with Wi-Fi 7, the maximum data rate is 46 Gbps on a 320 MHz channel in 6 GHz and a 160 MHz channel in 5 GHz, with 4096-QAM and 16 spatial streams. The doubling of spatial flows and channel bandwidths results in a 4.8-fold increase in performance of Wi-Fi 7 compared to Wi-Fi 6. On the other hand, the graph provided by Intel that you have below shows how it increases the data rate of Wi-Fi 7 thanks to a combination of wider channels, more QAM, and more spatial streams.

In Wi-Fi 7, thanks to going to 4096-QAM, the data speed has been improved, especially we will notice it in places close to the WiFi access point or router. However, the greatest performance of this future generation of Wi-Fi, which is already quite close, comes from doubling the channel size to 320MHz and increasing the number of spatial streams.

When will we see the new WiFi 7 standard?

The reality is that this new 802.11be standard that is going to introduce numerous improvements is closer than it seems. Here’s a timeline with the WiFi 7 forecasts:

It is expected that if everything follows the established plan, we could have the 802.11be standard approved by 2024. Then, not long after, the leading manufacturers will launch their routers and other network equipment. Obviously, in the beginning, like any novelty, they will be costly equipment, but with time they will be more affordable for everyone. The same happened with WiFi 6, and now we have good quality equipment available in different price ranges.
In summary, WiFi 7 will bring us speeds of up to 46 Gbps theoretical, a channel size of up to 320 MHz, and a lower latency that gamers will significantly appreciate.

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