WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
You love content, your kids love content, your old wifi router sucks and everything buffers. WiFi 7 restores bliss.
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While most of us are starting to get used to the ultra-fast speeds that 5G has to offer and still thinking about the benefits of the equally fast WiFi 6 standard, engineers have now got their sights firmly fixed on developing the next WiFi standard – WiFi 7 – after MediaTek announced the first live demos of the next-gen tech, which should be much faster than what we’re used to.
Wi-Fi 6 devices only really made it to market in 2021, so consumers should currently be satisfied with the speed boost that tech provided over the previous generation of WiFi. But, that satisfaction is sure to be fleeting, and with that in mind companies in the Wi-Fi Alliance are already working on new tech that can handle even more data-intensive activities.
Enter Wi-Fi 7, or as it’s known in more technical circles, the IEEE 802.11be standard. The Wi-Fi Alliance says that this new system should be capable of a maximum throughput of at least 30 Gbps, which is a major step up from Wi-Fi 6’s maximum of 9.6 Gbps. That said, these figures are mostly academic, so don’t expect to be downloading entire TV seasons in seconds – the real-world speed boost is said to be about 2.4 times faster.
While the Wi-Fi Alliance is still working through the details of what the new standard will include, one of its member companies, MediaTek, says that it has already shown off a Wi-Fi 7 tech demo to its key customers and industry collaborators, and they say their demo system, based on its Filogic platform, is able to hit the maximum speed outlined in the standard.
Part of that demo involved showing off the Multi-Link Operation (MLO) technology, which spreads multiple channels out over different frequency bands at the same time which showed that the system was able to keep consistent speeds even with interference or congestion.
Wi-Fi 7 will also have channels with a bandwidth of 320 MHz, allowing more data to be transmitted at once even with the same number of antennas. This, plus MLO and a few other tech tricks, should help Wi-Fi 7 handle the intense data transmission that consumers will increasingly throw at it, like gaming, 4K, and eventually 8K video streaming, AR and VR applications and maybe even this metaverse thing that companies are trying to convince us to want.
MediaTek expects that products using Wi-Fi 7 will hit the market as early as next year, but that seems like quite an optimistic estimate, considering the Wi-Fi Alliance isn’t planning to finalize the new standard until early 2024. Devices claiming to be compatible with Wi-Fi 7 will probably arrive early, but those with the official certification will be several years away yet.