Wi-Fi 7 is here: 5 things you need to know about the new wireless technology
Wi-Fi 7 officially offers a faster connection in home and work environments. In addition to a next-generation performance boost, the updated standard will include the introduction of several new features.
The Wi-Fi Alliance has posted several messages We describe all the changes, but we’ll cover the five most important new features, starting with 320MHz channels. These new channels are twice the size of 160MHz channels and have the highest bandwidth available on 5GHz routers. That greater bandwidth will result in faster speeds. However, there’s a catch: the 320MHz channels will only be available in countries that allow access to the 6GHz band. A list of countries that support 6GHz can be found on the Wi-Fi Alliance website. They include, but are not limited to, the US, UK, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
Benefits for VR and for you
Next is MLO or Multi-Link Operation, which allows devices on a network to send and receive data simultaneously over multiple bands (namely 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz). This results in high throughput, better reliability and significantly reduced latency. The latter is especially important as virtual reality (VR) headsets become more common. If news site Road to VR points out, a headset on Wi-Fi 7 could potentially receive a video stream on the 6GHz band while sending tracking information on the 5GHz band. Being able to distribute the workload in this way enables optimal performance.
While we’re on the subject, the Wi-Fi Alliance states that Wi-Fi 7 will better enable deterministic latency.
Deterministic latency as a concept is quite complex. In short, it ensures that devices know when to expect connection disruptions. Having this information could give VR headsets a way to “better handle situations where there is latency” to maintain consistent connections. This won’t eliminate latency completely (nothing can), but it should at least improve the overall experience.
Further down the list introduces Wi-Fi 7 4K QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) to the image. To keep things simple, signals supported by 4K QAM can transmit 20 percent more data than the current 1024 QAM standard.
And finally, Wi-Fi 7 is of course backwards compatible with previous versions of Wi-Fi. You don’t have to worry about whether your old laptop will connect or not.
We recommend that you view the rest of the page Messages from Wi-Fi Alliance as they discuss some of the other improvements we didn’t include, such as the 512 Compressed Block Ack.
A few companies have already launched Wi-Fi 7 routers. Last year Netgear released the Nighthawk RS700. But soon more companies will join the fray. At CES 2024, Acer unveiled its two Predator Connect gaming routers are ready to take full advantage of the fast speeds of Wi-Fi 7. Notably, the Predator Connect T7 supports Wi-Fi 7 tri-band for wider home coverage.
If you’re not ready to take the plunge, Ny Breaking has a list of the best Wi-Fi routers for 2024 that still run on Wi-Fi 6.