Wi-Fi 7 is coming – should you wait? (network)

Tech rapidly changes. Qualcomm’s announcement of its new Wi-Fi 7 Networking may give you cause skip over the Wi-Fi 6 and 6E stages. Our advice – it will be a few years before Wi-Fi 7 is mainstream at prices you can afford.

Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series is interesting. It has to support all those 802.11 a/b/c/g/n/ac/ax/axe devices and yet offer significant speed and distance enhancements. Yes, to speed, no to distance.

To put it in perspective, it will offer 320Mhz of the unlicensed 6GHz channel – twice that of the Wi-Fi 6E. It also has:

  • new multi-link capabilities (combining 5 and 6GHz bands for increased speed)
  • 4K QAM (Wi-Fi 6 and 6E have 1K)
  • From 6-16 streams (think highways)

On the downside:

  • You will need Wi-Fi 7 enabled devices and routers to use the speed; just as you need Wi-Fi 6 and 6E devices/routers.
  • It won’t make any difference to the Internet of Things devices that use 2.4Ghz or Wi-Fi 5 that can use 2.4 and 5Ghz.

And as we have discovered in Wi-Fi 6E AX 6Ghz now approved in Australia. What does that mean for you? the effective transmission distance of the 6Ghz band is about 5-8 metres compared to 10/20 for 5/2.4Ghz. It will be more subject to degradation as it passes through walls, floors, ceilings, windows and cupboards.

What will the Wi-Fi 7 Networking enable?

It is about higher speed and lower latency both ways (transmit and receive) over Wi-Fi. Good old cabled Ethernet will still be superior for speed and long-distance.

That means (without the need for a cable) you will be able to:

  • Stream 8K video/audio
  • Have real-time VR sessions (good for gaming)
  • Access to the graphics/media-rich metaverse, telepresence and more

The high-speed Wi-Fi 7 and 6E devices will have an exclusive 6Ghz channel. It is far less congested than 2.4/5GHz channels.

Qualcomm’s role

It is an innovator, chip designer and powers most premium Android smartphones. It also has a significant presence on intelligent cars, provides router chips etc.

In theory (not practice), a Wi-Fi 7 client could get up to 33Gbps (4000MBps) and 10Gbps full-duplex data transfer rates. That is 4x faster than the theoretical Wi-Fi 6E speeds.

Qualcomm’s support means we will start to see Wi-Fi 7 smartphones sometime in 2023 and earlier adoption of this standard. Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 chips include:

  • 1620: Quad-band, 16-stream, 33.1 Gbps peak wireless capacity for stadium, large enterprise, and premium home mesh systems.
  • 1220: Tri-band, 12-stream, 21.6 Gbps peak wireless capacity for enterprise, SMB, prosumer, and premium home mesh systems.
  • 820: Quad-band, 8-stream, 13.7 Gbps peak wireless capacity for enterprise, SMB, prosumer, and premium home mesh systems.
  • 620: Tri-band, 6-stream, 10.8 Gbps peak wireless capacity for enterprise, SMB, gaming, and home mesh systems.

Routers using Quad-band will be used for Mesh. They will have one 2.4Ghz for IoT; 1 x 5Ghz for 5Ghz only compatible devices; one 5GHz for mesh; and one 6GHz for Wi-fi 6E and 7 devices.

Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 website