The next generation of WiFi can theoretically reach up to 40 Gbps and the first products will reach the market starting in 2023 / 2024. WiFi 7 is a true Ethernet replacement, says MediaTek.
WiFi 7 is the next step
WiFi 7 (or IEEE 802.11be) is the next major generation after WiFi 6 and WiFi 6E. It will be backwards compatible and operate with all current devices in the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz bands.
To benefit from WiFi 7 you will of course need to invest in a new router and new devices including a new TV or media player. Why would you? Well, the Wi-Fi Alliance says that WiFi 7 will support "at least 30 Gbps" of maximum throughout. The IEEE association claims that WiFi 7 can "provide data rates as high as 40 Gbps" while Intel specifies 46 Gbps as the limit.
- "Wi-Fi 7 focuses on physical (PHY) and medium access control (MAC) improvements capable of supporting a maximum throughput of at least 30 Gbps to increase performance, enable Wi-Fi innovations, and expand use cases. Additional Wi-Fi 7 enhancements will support reduced latency and jitter for time sensitive networking applications including AR/VR, 4K and 8K video streaming, automotive, cloud computing, gaming and video applications," the Wi-Fi Alliance said.
WiFi 7 uses Multi-Link Operation (MLO) technology to reduce latency and improve stability for cloud gaming. MLO can also improve reliability for 4K and 8K streaming, and enable AR/VR wirelessly. MLO aggregates multiple channels on different frequency bands to ensure that data continues to flow even if there is interference or congestion on the network. This approach ensures a constant, sustained, and real-time throughput.
How low should we expect latency to be? Below 5 ms, according to the IEEE, although this figure relates only to your home network. Cloud gaming will still have to cross the internet, which can easily add 100ms latency.
- "Skeptics claim that focusing on the quality of operation and ignoring the quantity performance indicators may slow down the sales of Wi-Fi 6 devices. Such a concern is one of the reasons why the 802.11 Working Group switches back to increasing the nominal throughput in Wi-Fi 7, together with improving user experience (e.g., when watching 8K video with an uncompressed rate of 20 Gbps) and providing real-time communications with the required latency below 5 ms for gaming," the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) wrote last year.
First live demo of WiFi 7
In the world's first live demonstration of WiFi 7 technology, semiconductor company MediaTek found that WiFi 7 delivers 2.4X faster speeds than WiFi 6 (up to 9.6 Gbps) with the same number of antennas.
MediaTek even went as far as to call WiFi 7 a true Ethernet replacement.
- "The rollout of Wi-Fi 7 will mark the first time that Wi-Fi can be a true wireline/Ethernet replacement for super high-bandwidth applications," said Alan Hsu, CVP and GM of Intelligent Connectivity, MediaTek. "MediaTek’s Wi-Fi 7 technology will be the backbone of home, office and industrial networks and provide seamless connectivity for everything from multi-player AR/VR applications to cloud gaming and 4K calls to 8K streaming and beyond."
MediaTek has been involved in WiFi 7 since its inception and it expects to be one of the first adopters, which is interesting because MediaTek's SoC (System-on-Chip) designs are found in more than 2 billion TVs including TVs from Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Xiaomi as well as streaming players from Amazon and Roku. In FlatpanelsHD's TV Database you can see which SoC is used and which version of WiFi is support in a given TV model.
MediaTek's next-generation SoC, which is expected to find its way into 8K TVs later this year, will have WiFi 6E. The company did not comment specifically on its WiFi 7 plans for TVs but said that its first products with WiFi 7 are expected to be available starting in 2023. However, 2024 (which is the certification timeframe) is probably a more realistic starting point for consumer products with WiFi 7.
- Source: IEEE, MediaTek, Versatek, Wi-Fi Alliance, Intel