23 December 2020

Next generation Wi-Fi 7, what can we expect?

Categories: Indoor wireless,

At this moment, the growth of video-consumption is spectacular, it is therefore expected that this trend will continue. Efficient connections are crucial here, but higher bandwidth is also a requirement. We like to watch a lot of video content, but also in a resolution as high as possible (≤ 8K). So, what we need is more efficiency, more speed, and more reliability.

While we are still waiting for Wi-Fi 6 to become widely available, we can already start to talk about Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be extremely high throughput). With the seventh-generation Wi-Fi wireless network that has a speed of up to 30 Gpbs, which is three times the maximum rate of the current latest generation Wi-Fi 6 at 9.6Gbps, it will go way towards meeting our demands.

Wi-Fi 7 will support the traditional 2,4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands and will also support for the 6GHz frequency band. The three frequency bands will be able to work simultaneously.

The main improvement of Wi-Fi 6 is that its QAM modulation accuracy is doubled, which makes a single device faster. Wi-Fi 7 will upgrade the signal modulation method to 4096QAM to have a larger data capacity. In 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), the standard uses 1024-QAM.

Wi-Fi 7 supports more data streams and introduces CMU-MIMO. Wi-Fi 6 supports up to 8 data streams and the introduction of CMU-MIMO is a major upgrade, allowing multiple devices to simultaneously use multiple data streams to communicate with access points. Wi-Fi 7 will double this number what means the device can support 16 data streams, divided over 2,4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz. The C in CMU-MIMO stands for coordinated, which means that 16 data streams may not be provided by one access point, but by multiple access points at the same time.

However, Wi-Fi 7 will be a huge improvement, it will not yet be perfect as it is still very much in the early research and development stage. For example, the 320MHz ultra-high frequency bandwidth of Wi-Fi 7 can only be achieved with the help of the new 6GHz wireless frequency band. This means that the frequency band compatible with wi-Fi 6, 802.11be cannot achieve the maximum speed. In the wireless frequency band where the 802.11be technology is full speed, it is not backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi standards. To really enjoy the network bandwidth up to 30Gbps, you need a super wireless network card with 16 antennas, and you need to buy a wireless router with 16 antennas.

We can assume that it will take some time before Wi-Fi 7 appears on the market. In the meantime, we are looking forward to what else Wi-Fi 6 will have to offer.