Inside the Wi-Fi 7 Standard: Evolution and Business Importance

I discussed the upcoming release of Wi-Fi 7 in my latest ZKast with David Coleman, Director of Wireless in the Office of the CTO at Extreme Networks, which already has Wi-Fi 7 products in the works.

Coleman explained what’s new in the standard and how it compares to Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, 5G, and private 5G. Below are highlights of the ZKast interview, conducted in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS.

For more information see also: Understand the difference between 5G, WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E

Enterprise Wi-Fi Market

The importance of Wi-Fi in society today cannot be overstated. Technically, it is an access technology that connects devices to corporate and home networks, allowing fast and easy access to the Internet.

In the early days, Wi-Fi was primarily used by consumers at home and then made its way to the enterprise. Today, the technology has matured enough to be used in every vertical industry and has become the foundation for digital experiences – many of which begin on mobile devices.

Over the years, Wi-Fi generations have evolved (and improved) to include new capabilities such as faster speeds, less bandwidth congestion, and better battery life. Wi-Fi 6e extends the efficiency capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 to the 6 gigahertz (GHz) band, a multi-lane superhighway for high-bandwidth applications.

Despite Wi-Fi 6e being a fairly new standard, there’s an even newer standard on the horizon: Wi-Fi 7.

For more information, see also: WiFi 6E Key to Healthcare Modernization

Interviews and Highlights

Watch highlights of the video interview below:

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  • Wi-Fi 7, officially known as IEEE 802.11be, is still being finalized by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry organization that certifies interoperability between devices based on the standard. responsible for doing. While the Wi-Fi Alliance announced plans for certification for Wi-Fi 7, an official date has not been released. Like previous standards, Wi-Fi 7 will be backward compatible and co-exist with legacy equipment in the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz bands.
  • Wi-Fi 7 builds on Wi-Fi 6E by using the 6 GHz band and increasing throughput even more. The new standard focuses on the physical (PHY) and medium access control (MAC), capable of supporting a maximum throughput of at least 30 gigabits (Gbps) per second. This could potentially reduce latency and jitter for time-sensitive apps such as Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR), 4K and 8K video streaming, as well as mission critical and industrial apps.
  • Wi-Fi 7 is expected to enable new enterprise-grade services such as multi-link operation (MLO), where multiple Wi-Fi links can be used to reduce latency, increase reliability, and boost throughput. . Theoretically, Wi-Fi 7 will cover three channels in all three bands. A Wi-Fi 7 client and Wi-Fi 7 access point (AP) can broadcast on different channels in different bands through link steering. It can potentially provide high throughput and backhaul links, offering the most value to the enterprise.
  • Another unique feature of Wi-Fi 7 is 4K QAM modulation, which increases the peak rate and increases throughput/capacity compared to Wi-Fi systems using 1K QAM modulation. These complex modulation methods require a pristine radio frequency (RF) environment and a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Wi-Fi 5 requires an SNR of approximately 25 decibels (dB) and Wi-Fi 6 requires approximately 32 dB. Now with 4K QAM modulation, there should be an SNR of around 41 to 42 dB, which is hard to achieve at 5 GHz.
  • Wi-Fi 7 also supports ultra-wide 320 megahertz (MHz) channels, which have four times the throughput of 80 MHz and twice that of 160 MHz. The larger the channel, the more data it can modify. While this sounds great in theory, it doesn’t scale in the enterprise. With multiple APs in use, enterprises are likely to experience channel interference.
  • Much of the hype surrounding Wi-Fi 7 is its ability to provide high-speed multi-gigabit Internet connections. Wi-Fi 6 has a maximum theoretical speed of 9.6 Gbps, while Wi-Fi 6e offers similar speeds with the added benefit of the 6 GHz band. Wi-Fi 7 could potentially reach 33Gbps, though it’s unlikely. Realistically, it’s going to be less than that when Wi-Fi 7 is deployed in a true enterprise environment with multiple clients and APs.
  • Some vendors, including Broadcom and Intel, have already announced Wi-Fi 7 chipsets and radios. The chipset is currently being tested and may be included in future products. The first Wi-Fi 7 consumer-grade home router is likely to launch between March and May this year. Enterprise-grade products are expected to follow, probably in the first half of 2024. None of these products are certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance as certification has not yet taken place.
  • Any company that’s currently in a refresh cycle should think beyond Wi-Fi 6. Those who aren’t planning another refresh for five to six years will have no way to go past 6GHz. The move to Wi-Fi 6E will now ensure access to the 6 GHz superhighway of spectrum. Still, organizations that have recently deployed Wi-Fi 6e are unlikely to upgrade to Wi-Fi 7 immediately. Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 will be replacements for those who currently have Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6.
  • It’s also a good idea to upgrade the switch now for future-proofing, but it can be done gradually over time. Despite the faster speeds Wi-Fi 7 promises, organizations should focus primarily on their individual use cases and enhancing the wireless user experience.
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For more information see also: Artificial intelligence eases network challenges

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