Wi-Fi 7 is the latest evolution of the IEEE 802.11 wireless networking standard, and is a direct complement to Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E. It’s faster, offers improved support for more simultaneous connections, and will be more adaptable, to better maintain low-latency connections. It would be an excellent solution for streaming HD video to multiple devices simultaneously, and may find use in future wireless virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.
There aren’t many Wi-Fi 7 devices or routers available yet, but a soft launch has already begun in China, and that rollout will only grow rapidly in the coming years. To get you ready for the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, here’s everything you need to know about Wi-Fi 7.
What is Wi-Fi 7?
Wi-Fi 7 is the next generation of Wi-Fi technology officially known as 802.11be. It’s potentially several times faster than even the best Wi-Fi 6 routers, with a number of technological improvements to latency, network capacity, efficiency, and overall stability.
It can support all three typical frequency bands — 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz — and has much more bandwidth on it, which opens up the potential for much faster speeds for connected and supporting devices. It should also be more stable, as channels and bands can be shared or split as needed, providing additional bandwidth to Wi-Fi 7 devices with lower latency than was previously possible.
Wi-Fi 7 will also offer support for WPA4 security, although this standard has yet to be ratified.
What is the difference between Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7?
Wi-Fi 7 is an evolution of existing standards, not a revolutionary new idea. However, it does introduce several important advancements that will make Wi-Fi 7 an exciting technology once it becomes more readily available.
The most notable change with Wi-Fi 7 is its speed improvements. Where Wi-Fi 6 has a theoretical maximum speed of 9.6Gbps, Wi-Fi 6E has the same maximum speed, but it introduced a 6GHz frequency band to free up better occupied 5GHz bands. On the other hand, Wi-Fi 7 can reach speeds of up to 36Gbps. It achieves this through a combination of improved data density on channels, increased channel width, and simultaneous use of multiple bands and channels.
This additional bandwidth comes from a combination of spreading the signal across frequency bands and expanding individual channels. Where Wi-Fi 6 only supports channels up to 160MHz wide, Wi-Fi 7 supports channels up to 320MHz. It also introduces Multi-Link Operation (MLO) that allows devices to simultaneously send and receive data over different frequency bands and channels, making the most of what’s available. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E can only use one band or channel at a time, though it grants access to all of the same bands.
It can even use parts of a channel that are in use, but are not saturated, to make the most of available bandwidth, using a technique called multi-resource unit hole. This also makes it easier to maintain a strong Wi-Fi 7 connection, even if the network is busy, as it will automatically route your traffic through the most available bands with the most free capacity.
Wi-Fi 7 can deliver incredible bandwidth across all frequency bands, including 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz, as it shares. By comparison, Wi-Fi 6E can only deliver its maximum performance when using the 6GHz spectrum, making Wi-Fi 7 connections more likely to enjoy the best performance available, no matter how close you are to your router, or how busy your frequency is. gangs.
When can we expect Wi-Fi 7?
The official Wi-Fi 7 launch event took place in November 2022, and saw some major router manufacturers like TP-Link showcase early Wi-Fi 7 router designs. Expect those to start showing up throughout 2023, and especially towards the end of the year.
That’s only half of the picture. To use Wi-Fi 7, we also need Wi-Fi 7 compatible devices. So far, only the Xiaomi Mi13 Pro smartphone has been released with official Wi-Fi 7 support. More Wi-Fi 7 devices will likely appear throughout 2023, though for now it’s a chicken-and-egg situation, as hardware and routers are still in development.
What is the best Wi-Fi 7 router?
There aren’t any Wi-Fi 7 routers available for purchase yet, but a number of exciting models were announced at CES 2023 if you want to whet your appetite in the near future.
The TP-Link Archer BE9000 is a network-capable Wi-Fi 7 router that will provide 10Gbps WAN/LAN, and will also have four 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports. It has HomeShield from TP-Link to protect your network from attacks, and it features 12 internal antennas to give it great coverage. It even has a small display on the front to show network speed or dedicated graphics.
TP-Link also showed off the new Deco BE95, a Wi-Fi 7 router with four bands in total: the standard 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and two 6GHz bands. It will be able to reach speeds of up to 33Gbps and can support 200 connected devices simultaneously, so it will be a great solution for busy homes or offices.
Not to be outdone, MSI showcased the RadiX BE22000, a Wi-Fi 7 router geared towards gamers, with a unique three-antenna design that targets devices to deliver a strong signal wherever you are in your home.
Arris was also at CES this year, showing off a new Surfboard Wi-Fi 7 router and cable modem. It will handle all the high speed of multi-gigabit Internet connections, while providing a Wi-Fi7 capable wireless network for your home.
Should you upgrade to Wi-Fi 7?
You can’t now, so it’s not worth it, but over time, it might be. Wi-Fi 7 will bring better reliability to your connection, along with more bandwidth for faster Internet connections and network sharing. It also wouldn’t be a huge step up in capability over Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, at least until we start to see internet connections exceeding 10Gbps. Some pros might be able to make use of it for faster local file transfers, but that’s a decent use case.
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