Wi-Fi 7: The Wireless Revolution

The world of technology is constantly evolving, an undeniable fact. While many have recently jumped to Wi-Fi 6, it’s clear that we’re on the brink of a new era with the imminent arrival of Wi-Fi 7.

This progress is even more evident with the announcement of Qualcomm’s brand new processor Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in mid-November 2022, which is already incorporated in the new Galaxy S23. The app includes a wireless module compatible with Wi-Fi 7. The San Diego-based company has also revealed the first two chips designed for routers, which are planned to be in future devices that follow this new Wi-Fi standard. Market launch in 2023.

Since the word „Wi-Fi 7” will become more common in our conversations and readings, we decided to prepare a detailed analysis to provide a deeper knowledge of this topic.

Contents:

1. Introduction to Wi-Fi 7: What is it and how does it work?
2. Advantages and differences compared to previous Wi-Fi standards
3. Hardware Requirements for Using Wi-Fi 7
4. Configuration and settings of Wi-Fi 7 network
5. Wi-Fi 7: Data transfer speed and coverage
6. Wi-Fi Security 7: How to Secure Your Network
7. Conclusions and Final Reflections

Introduction to Wi-Fi 7: What is it and how does it work?

Wi-Fi 7 represents the seventh generation of wireless standards approved by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an organization that aims to adopt a global standard for wireless broadband use around the world.

However, at this time, Wi-Fi 7, also known as 802.11be, is not yet a fully established standard. However, its potential has already generated considerable interest. Technology experts see Wi-Fi 7 as a revolution in the management and optimization of existing bands. In simple terms, Wi-Fi 7 will provide a significant increase in bandwidth, resulting in increased speed and elimination of interference.

But how will Wi-Fi 7 actually work? The new standard will take advantage of three bands: 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz, expanding the channel width to 320 MHz, more than double what the current state-of-the-art standard Wi-Fi 6e offers. As a result, the speed doubles from 1.2 Gbps to 2.4 Gbps. In other words, on a 6GHz Wi-Fi 7 band with 16 streams, a bandwidth of 40Gbps is achieved.

Another important feature of Wi-Fi 7 is the improvement of numerical quadrature amplitude modulation called QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation). While the current standard Wi-Fi 6 supports modulation up to 1024-QAM, Wi-Fi 7 will bring this modulation to 4096-QAM. This results in higher performance and speed compared to Wi-Fi 6 and earlier Wi-Fi standards.

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In addition, Wi-Fi 7 will introduce Multi-Link Operation (MLO), which will allow two Wi-Fi bands to be linked together, resulting in higher wireless speeds and greater signal stability.

WiFi 5 vs Comparison Table WiFi 6/6E vs. Wi-Fi 7 | Photo: Asus website

Advantages and differences compared to previous Wi-Fi standards

Now let’s talk about the main advantages of Wi-Fi 7 and its differences compared to the current standard and the previous ones:

Benefits:

1. Supports bandwidth up to 40 gigabits per second, which is four times faster connection than the current standard Wi-Fi 6.
2. Allows the combination of two wireless bands using MLO (Multi-Link Operation) technology, which maximizes bandwidth and improves signal stability.
3. New multi-resource unit technology provides more efficient connection when switching from one TFS channel to another.
4. Improves interference management through preamble puncturing technique, allowing Wi-Fi 7 compatible devices to avoid interference by using only the free portion of each channel.

Differences from previous Wi-Fi standards:

1. Speeds up to 40 Gbps compared to 9.6 Gbps for current standard Wi-Fi 6.
2. Ability to transmit up to 16 data streams simultaneously, as opposed to 8 streams supported by Wi-Fi 6.
3. Signal modulation up to 4096-QAM, Wi-Fi 6 stops at 1024-QAM.
4. 22% improved energy efficiency compared to Wi-Fi 6.
5. Latency reduced by 75% compared to previous generation.

320MHz frequency

Hardware requirements to use Wi-Fi 7

Using Wi-Fi 7 will require hardware compatible with this new standard, specifically devices that include a Wi-Fi 7 wireless module. As mentioned in the introduction, Qualcomm was one of the first manufacturers to adopt this technology. In the telephony sector, a notable example is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor found in the new Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra.

As for routers, companies such as AWM, Xiaomi, TP-Link, Plume, Netgear, Nec, Xiaomi, Linksys and EnGenius have already announced plans to introduce the first devices incorporating the new Qualcomm 3210 and 326 chips to the market this year. ., designed to support the future Wi-Fi standard.

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TP-Link is one of the leading manufacturers of new Wi-Fi 7 routers. Among the already announced devices, the Archer BE900 stands out, a quad-band router capable of supporting up to 24 Gbps, double the previous generation’s 9.6 Gbps. It also has four built-in Wi-Fi 7 radio modules, each capable of handling four data streams: one in the 6 GHz band, another in the 2.4 GHz band, and another two GHz in the 2.4 GHz band.

Wi-Fi 7 Network Configuration and Settings

Compared to the current Wi-Fi 6 and previous Wi-Fi standards, the process of setting up and tuning a Wi-Fi 7 network will be different, primarily due to the adoption of Multi-Link Operation (MLO), one of the main news of the future standard. Thanks to MLO, users will have the opportunity to combine Wi-Fi bands to improve the performance of the Wi-Fi network. In total, you can choose between two settings:

1. 2.4 GHz + 5 GHz: This configuration allows you to increase the bandwidth.
2. 5 GHz + 6 GHz: This second configuration allows you to optimize Wi-Fi mesh configurations, greatly reducing the risk of signal loss and connection interruptions.

Wi-Fi 7: Data transfer speed and coverage

The new Wi-Fi 7 standard will increase data transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, although some sites quote figures as high as 46 Gbps. Compared to Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), the current standard stops at 9.6 Gbps, there is talk of four times faster speeds. In addition to speed, coverage is significantly improved. It’s a new technology that surpasses Wi-Fi 6’s MIMO standard with the advent of CMU-MIMO. In Wi-Fi 6, a maximum of 8 antennas can work, with Wi-Fi 7 they will work. Up to 16 antennas to communicate with each other.

MLO (Multi Link Operation)

Wi-Fi 7 Security: How to Protect Your Network

Wi-Fi 7 will come with support for WPA3, as will Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E evolution. Although some specifications also suggest support for the WPA protocol, at present, this data does not have official confirmation. To protect your Wi-Fi network, the same precautions recommended for the current 802.11ax standard apply:

– Change router access credentials compared to predefined ones.
– Change Wi-Fi password.
– Disable the WPS function.
– Keep router firmware up to date.
– Disable remote management of the router.
– Enable the router’s firewall.
– Hide SSID broadcast.

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Conclusions and final reflections

Wi-Fi 7 is coming. Although it is not yet considered a unified standard, there are already devices that offer support for this new generation of Wi-Fi, identified as 802.11be. The most significant improvement expected with the new standard focuses on bandwidth, which will quadruple the capacity of current wireless networks.

Another important innovation is the implementation of multi-link operation technology, which allows devices to transmit and receive data simultaneously in several bands, thus creating a unified link with significant improvements in latency.

Wi-Fi 7 Frequently Asked Questions

How does Wi-Fi 7 work?
Wi-Fi 7 is four times faster and has lower latency than the current 800.11ax standard. It will allow for a more stable and efficient connection, with the goal of fully supporting the advent of 8K streaming and virtual reality.

What is the difference between Wi-Fi 5 and 6?
Wi-Fi 5 is a standard launched in 2013, while Wi-Fi 6 arrived in 2019. The maximum transfer speed was 3.5 Gbps with Wi-Fi 5, while the 802.11x standard was boosted to 9.6 Gbps. Other major differences are the modulation (256-QAM for Wi-Fi 5 and 1024-QAM for Wi-Fi 6) and the increase in MU-MIMO streams (from 4×4 of the previous generation to 8×8 of the standard released in 2019).

What is Wi-Fi 6 for?
Wi-Fi 6 offers faster transmission and wider coverage compared to the previous generation. The current standard improves network performance when multiple devices are connected to the same router. Mechanisms such as OFDMA and MU-MIMO improve the performance of low bit rate applications (such as IoT sensors) and increase the efficiency of video transmission.

What are Wi-Fi frequencies?
Wi-Fi frequencies are 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz. A greater number of frequencies means the possibility of transferring more data simultaneously, although it also means a reduction in wireless signal coverage.

How to measure Wi-Fi signal at home?
Knowing the Wi-Fi signal strength in your home is important to choosing the best location for your router. You can measure it using several free apps like NetSpot, Homedale, Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector, Acrylic Wi-Fi Home and Dot11Expert.

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