The speed and quality of a wireless connection are critical factors for modern Internet users. The speed of a person’s connection has a direct impact on how quickly they can complete their work, how long it takes for a YouTube video to buffer, and how quickly a game they just bought on Steam to load.
A new wireless standard called IEEE 802.11be, also known as Wi-Fi 7, is currently being tested. It is expected to provide even faster data speeds and more dependable connections than its predecessors. But does the typical user really need it, and is it worth waiting for its release in the near future? Let’s examine these queries in more detail.
What distinguishes between different wireless standards?
To gain more insight into the distinctions between Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and Wi-Fi 7, read specialized articles that look at the implementation mechanism of wireless connections in general. We want to avoid getting into the technical aspects of the matter, but prior to the release of IEEE 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6E, wireless Internet connections were made between 2.4 and 5 GHz. With its implementation of 6 GHz spectrum support, Wi-Fi 6E set a new precedent, albeit with notable constraints.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must approve the standard in order for devices that support it to be authorized for production and sale in the United States, which is the largest technology market in the world. The Commission expressed grave concerns about continuous interference to services using the 6GHz band when reviewing the 6E standard.
In order to power the grid and carry out other tasks, utilities and emergency services in America rely on communication links and other wireless connections in the 6 GHz band. Satellite communications, which are used by broadcasters and individual operators, also use the spectrum. The FCC mandated that Wi-Fi 6E systems be restricted to low-power outdoor operation as a clear compromise.
Because of this, Wi-Fi 6E’s broadcast range was severely constrained, making it only appropriate for indoor use. It is not advisable to place the router close to signal reception points because walls can easily block the signal. Therefore, even with its faster speed, Wi-Fi 6E does not meet the actual needs of users who anticipate a wider network coverage area.
What distinguishes Wi-Fi 7 from the earlier standards? The protocol has increased the number of megahertz channels from 160 to 320, but it still uses the same three bands (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz) as 6E. This should theoretically result in twice as much bandwidth, with maximum data rates of at least 30 gigabits per second.
The complete support of the 6GHz band is the primary distinction between the 7 and 6E. This was made possible by the development of Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC), which made it possible to keep specialized signals apart from Wi-Fi connections and prevent interference. Since the coordination system is expected to be widely implemented by the end of 2023, it is not reasonable to anticipate the release of the first Wi-Fi 7-capable routers earlier.
Then why Wi-Fi 7?
Even if Wi-Fi 7 has clear benefits from a technical standpoint, you might still wonder why you need such a fast connection. First, the new protocol can offer nominal connection speeds of more than 40 Gbps, according to documentation from the 802.11 subgroup BE (TGbe) of the 802.11 working group of the Local and Metropolitan Area Network Standardization Committee. Theoretically, this will drastically speed up working with massive volumes of data on a server or in the cloud by cutting the time it takes to download 100 gigabyte files down to a few minutes.
The success of Wi-Fi 7 can also be attributed to its support for real-time applications. Time-sensitive networking was once thought to be unfeasible to provide permanently in a Wi-Fi network. Since the realization of such a thing necessitates a continuous connection with a high nominal data rate, the new standard was selected.
The coexistence and interaction of 5G and Wi-Fi 7 technologies operating in the same unlicensed frequency bands is still a pertinent question. The 3GPP and IEEE 802 teams have not yet come to an agreement, despite multiple talks and consultations.
The most efficient way for Wi-Fi 7 to communicate with cloud technologies will be through its ability to launch games remotely in virtual reality and broadcast gameplay to any portable device that supports the new protocol. The new standard may make it easier for large corporations to use their potential computing power to resurrect the virtual reality entertainment industry.
How long to wait for Wi-Fi 7?
Even though some companies have already released routers that support Wi-Fi 7, it is hardly worthwhile to schedule a switch to the new protocol anytime soon. Firstly, there are hardly any devices that facilitate the improvement. As of right now, only the most recent Android flagships—the Samsung Galaxy S and Google Pixel 6a — are included in the extremely small list of gadgets made with Wi-Fi 6E standards in mind. Even though Apple has added 6E support for the most recent MacBook Pro and iPad Pro models, the iPhone isn’t even on the list. Companies will need to wait at least a few years before updating existing smartphones to fully support Wi-Fi 7.
Second, it should be considered that a sizable portion of users still adhere to the antiquated 2.4 GHz broadcast, and the vast majority of people have access to Wi-Fi 6 protocols, which are more than sufficient to meet all basic needs. In light of this, manufacturers are not in a rush to implement such a standard on low-cost or even mid-range devices. Rather, the gadgets are made to cater to specific user types, such as cyber athletes and managers of big businesses. Touch screens are built into the devices.
The gadgets have touch screens installed, and their cases have a futuristic aesthetic. Such miracle routers are officially priced at $700.
Is bringing a router on Wi-Fi 6E worth it?
The question of whether it’s feasible to update your router to Wi-Fi 7 in 2023 was addressed above. However, is it worthwhile to upgrade to a device that supports 6E? It all relies, in essence, on your requirements.
If you have unlimited funds and Internet speed is essential to your activities, you should consider high-end options like Zyxel NebulaFlex NWA220AX-6E or ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000, which have a total wireless data transmission speed of 16 Gbps. It is not advisable to pursue the newest protocols if you do not require such fast download speeds.
It is important to keep in mind that the router manufacturer’s stated speed may not match the actual connection speed. Many things have an impact on this. Wi-Fi 6E’s maximum bandwidth is far higher than the Internet speed available in large cities, which varies based on the tariff line and can reach up to 1 Gbps. Different districts and even individual homes may have different connection requirements. For instance, fiber-optic connections are typically installed in new residential complexes, while some older buildings may only have a 100 Mbps speed limit.
In order to fully utilize the device, you should first consider the capabilities of your provider when selecting an access point. Make sure you know in advance what kind of connection your neighborhood or apartment building offers, whether fiber optic is an option, and the fastest speed the provider can offer.
To sum up, it can be said that the next generation of wireless technologies surely promises to greatly improve the Wi-Fi connection’s speed and dependability. Simultaneously, to fully utilize Wi-Fi-7, you will require a suitable connection from your ISP as well as compatible hardware, such as a router and network-connected devices.