Wi-Fi 7: What Is It, and How Fast Will It Be?

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Although Wi-Fi 6E still feels bleeding edge at the start of 2022, a demonstration of the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 standard showcased transfer speeds might make Ethernet cables obsolete. Let’s take a look at the proposed spec and what it promises.

Wi-Fi 7 is a new specification for Wi-Fi devices currently in the works. It’s based on the draft 802.11be standard, published in May 2021, that has not yet been finalized or approved by the FCC.

The most show-stopping feature of Wi-Fi 7 is that it might make wired Ethernet connections obsolete for a certain class of both home users and professionals. Wi-Fi 7 can theoretically support bandwidth up to 30 gigabits per second (Gbps) per access point, which is just over three times as fast as the maximum 9.6 Gbps speed of Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax). The draft authors call this “Extremely High Throughput,” or EHT.

Currently, commonly-available wired Ethernet technology maxes out at 10 Gbps (10GBASE-T), although it’s basically non-existent in consumer devices at the moment. And although higher speeds (such as Terabit Ethernet) exist in specialist settings like data centers, its arrival in the home or small business setting—if it ever happens—is likely far off. So for current users of both Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 7 might be able to replace the need for wired connections under optimal conditions.

Aside from the theoretical potential of blazingly fast speeds of Wi-Fi 7, the Wi-Fi Alliance plans to include other notable improvements in the Wi-Fi standard. We’ll cover a handful below:
  • Backward Compatibility: The Wi-Fi 7 draft spec spells out backward compatibility with legacy devices in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands, which means you won’t need all-new devices or hardware to connect to a Wi-Fi 7-enabled router.
  • 6 GHz: Full utilization of the new “6 GHz Band” (actually 5.925–7.125 GHz), first supported in Wi-Fi 6E. The 6GHz band is currently only occupied by Wi-Fi applications (although that might change), and using it results in dramatically less interference than the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands.
  • Lower Latency: The draft Wi-Fi 7 spec aims at “lower lateness and higher reliabilities” for time-sensitive networking (TSN), which is essential for cloud computing (and cloud gaming). It’s also a critical requirement for replacing wired Ethernet connections.
  • MLO: Wi-Fi 7 offers Multi-Link Operation (MLO) with load balancing and aggregation that combines multiple channels on different frequencies to deliver better performance. This means a Wi-Fi 7 router will be able to utilize all bands and channels available dynamically to speed up connections or avoid bands with high interference.
  • Upgrades to 802.11ax: According to the draft spec, Wi-Fi 7 will offer direct enhancements of Wi-Fi 6 technologies, such as 320 MHz channel width (up from 160 MHz in Wi-Fi 6), which allows faster connections, and 4096 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology that allows more data crammed into each hertz.
According to a news release from MediaTek, which claims to have already demonstrated the maximum Wi-Fi 7 speed mentioned above, Wi-Fi 7 products are expected to hit the market in 2023. An article in IEEE Spectrum cites 2024 as a potential availability date.
 
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ForgottenSeer 92963

I can imagine real world usage for Wifi7 routers (when a lot of users share the router e.g. cafe's, pubs, restaurants, camp sites, airports, hotels and events with free Wifi), but when 10Gbase-T in business environments never felt the need for more wired speed, why would a portable/mobile device need so much bandwidth than Wifi6?
 

MacDefender

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I can imagine real world usage for Wifi7 routers (when a lot of users share the router e.g. cafe's, pubs, restaurants, camp sites, airports, hotels and events with free Wifi), but when 10Gbase-T in business environments never felt the need for more wired speed, why would a portable/mobile device need so much bandwidth than Wifi6?
One aspect of improvement is the crazy high throughput but the other benefit here are the other improvements (reverse multiple channel aggregation more similar to LTE/5G, as well as the time sensitive networking low latency improvements)

Plus, wifi is a shared capacity medium. 9.6gbps air speed most likely is 5gbps real world speed at best. That will only get you today's 500-600mbps Wifi 5/6 style speeds to 10 clients at best, and these wifi 7 APs will be more expensive.

I already deploy 2 to 3 Wifi 6 APs at home for working from home, just because wifi channels saturate much quicker than my gigabit home connection.
 
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ForgottenSeer 92963

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The best 'speed' tip I can give for home network setup: setup different networks by grouping devices with same WIFI speed in one network, either by buying tripple/quotro band routers and using multiple bands in stead of 1 seamless network or partition IP-ranges with multiple (old) routers (using your high spec new router for high spec wifi devices and keeping your old router for old wifi devices).

Wifi networks reserve wagons (like train wagons) to prioritize traffic, when devices have same speed the data traffic of several devices is joined seamlessly like a zipper. Some high spec routers offer you the option to prioritize content and devices. High priority is achieved by assigning more (train) wagons for specific type of content or devices. On the network this translates (for example) to 2 wagons for high priority content and 1 wagon for lower priority content (wagon sequences of H-H-L H-H-L H-H-L). Most routers only provide means to prioritize type of content. When you prioritize video and gaming over other types of content, someone watching a video on a slow device, might get two consecutive high priority wagons to carry the content through the network, next a wagon for lower priority traffic is assigned, while an other user on a high spec gaming PC is waiting for the next (two) free high priority wagons to carry the gaming content. When you match devices with similar Wifi speeds (not the WIFI generation but the actual speed of the Wifi card on that device) you won't run in these mini-congestion situations. Grouping devices with similar Wifi speeds often also allows you to reduce the Wifi protocols enabled for a Wifi-network and optimize long/short preamble settings for a specific Wifi network. Even when you have not setup anything in your router, fair change your router uses a default predefined priority profile.

I used to have a 250Mbps ISP contract using the modem/router of my ISP. I got 75Mbps download speeds on my Desktop. When I disabled the 2.4 Ghz network in my ISP modem router and used my old Sitecom N300 for the 2.4 Ghz network (for slower devices) the download speed on the 5GHZ network on my Desktop increased to 100 Mbps. During Corona Dutch government allowed companies to give employees a one off tax free payment for beter home workplace. I bought a tripple band router to further group same speed Wifi devices over separate WIFI networks and with 150Mbps ISP contract our PC's (with same Wifi 450 Mbps cards) get 140Mbps plus download speed upstairs and 145Mbps plus downstairs.
 
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silversurfer

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Wi-Fi 7 home mesh routers aim to hit 33Gbps​

The Wi-Fi Alliance, which makes Wi-Fi standards and includes Qualcomm as a member, has said that Wi-Fi 7 will offer a max throughput of "at least 30Gbps," and on Wednesday, Qualcomm said its Network Pro Series Gen 3 platform will support "up to 33Gbps." These are theoretical speeds that you likely won't reach in your home, and you'll need a premium broadband connection and Wi-Fi 7 devices, which don't exist yet. Still, the speeds represent an impressive jump from Wi-Fi 6 and 6E's 9.6Gbps.

The next-gen tech is aimed at network-intensive applications, like virtual and augmented reality, video streaming at 4K and higher, and cloud computing and gaming. By making changes to the physical (PHY) layer and medium access control (MAC), Wi-Fi 7 should allow you to enjoy these applications with less latency and jitter.