Watch but don’t buy in 2023

If you’ve just upgraded your gear to Wi-Fi 6, take a deep breath – Wi-Fi 7 will burst onto the scene in 2023 and it promises to dramatically increase Wi-Fi speeds.

Wi-Fi standards have arrived like the buses in recent years. Wi-Fi 6 was finalized in 2019, about five years after the launch of Wi-Fi 5, and it significantly improved Wi-Fi speeds and range.

This was given a further boost by the arrival of Wi-Fi 6E in 2020, which added support for the much wider 6 GHz band, helping to once again improve throughput, especially in high-traffic areas where the traditional 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands may already be congested. .

Now, router makers are already starting to show off the Wi-Fi 7 kit, even before the standard is finalized. So what benefits will this new standard bring?

What is WiFi 7?

Wi-Fi 7 has several key benefits. First, it uses 320 MHz channels, which is twice the size of the channels used by Wi-Fi 6E. (Each band has many channels available for data transmission, for those who have trouble keeping up with the terminology).

The wider the channel, the more data it can transmit. Think of it as a four lane highway instead of two.

Wi-Fi 7 also introduces a technology called Multi-Link Operation. Previous Wi-Fi generations could only connect to a device such as a laptop or smartphone on a single band. On today’s Wi-Fi kit, for example, we’re often advised to connect low-bandwidth devices like smart thermostats or Kindle e-book readers to the 2.4GHz band, and retain the wider 5 GHz band for devices such as laptops or set-top boxes. boxes streaming 4K content.

Multi-link operation will allow Wi-Fi 7 devices to connect to two or more channels in different bands at the same time. This not only increases available bandwidth, but could also help signal reliability, allowing devices to fall back to the slower 2.4GHz band when the thicker 6GHz band dips in and out of range.

Additionally, Wi-Fi 7 offers higher Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), which will again increase the amount of data that can be transmitted with a strong signal.

How fast is Wi-Fi 7?

Combining all the different Wi-Fi 7 technologies could dramatically increase speeds. The theoretical maximum data rate of Wi-Fi increases to 5.8 Gbps, which is more than twice as fast as the maximum speed of Wi-Fi 6E.

However, these numbers should be taken with a handful of salt. Actual speeds will likely be far from this theoretical maximum. But if Wi-Fi 7 only delivers a quarter of the promised maximum, it’ll be more than fast enough to give you the full benefit of a gigabit broadband connection anywhere in the house.

It could also pave the way for new home technologies that require prodigious bandwidth, such as 8K streaming or the much-hyped Metaverse.

Should I buy a Wi-Fi 7 router now?

In a word, no. We’re starting to see manufacturers announcing Wi-Fi 7 routers, such as TP-Link’s Deco BE95, and next week’s CES will likely bring a flood of new Wi-Fi 7 kits from TP-Link’s rivals.

However, the first iterations of new Wi-Fi routers are extremely expensive. It’s not uncommon to see routers or mesh systems with four-figure price tags, which is a big investment.

However, you won’t really feel the benefits of Wi-Fi 7 until client devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) are equipped with Wi-Fi 7 radios. ‘until the standard is finally set, and likely won’t be mainstream until 2024. Apple, in particular, usually takes its time in adopting new Wi-Fi standards.

That means there’s little benefit to getting started with Wi-Fi 7 early. Wait until it starts showing up on client devices, at which point Wi-Fi 7 router prices should start to drop.

Wi-Fi 7 is a technology to watch in 2023, but probably not to buy. Also, it’s not like Wi-Fi 6 is slow…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *