Wi-Fi 7 is officially here offering faster connection across home and work environments. In addition to a next-gen performance boost, the updated standard will see the introduction of several new features.
The Wi-Fi Alliance made multiple posts detailing all the changes, but we'll cover the top five new features, starting with 320MHz channels. Double the size of 160MHz channels, these new channels are the highest bandwidth amount available on 5GHz routers. That larger bandwidth will result in faster speeds. There is a catch, however: the 320MHz channels will only be available in countries that enable access to the 6GHz band. A list of nations supporting 6GHz can be found on the Wi-Fi Alliance’s website. They include, but are not limited to, the US, UK, Australia, Japan, and Mexico.
Benefits to VR and you
Next is MLO or Multi-Link Operation, allowing devices on a network to transmit and receive data across multiple bands (namely 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz) at the same time. This will result in high throughput, better reliability, and significantly reduced latency. That last one is particularly important as virtual reality (VR) headsets become more common. As news site Road to VR points out, a headset on Wi-Fi 7 could conceivably receive a video stream via the 6GHz band while transmitting tracking information on the 5GHz band. Being able to split the workload like this allows for optimal performance.
While we’re on the topic, the Wi-Fi Alliance states Wi-Fi 7 better enables deterministic latency.
Deterministic latency as a concept is pretty complex. Basically, it allows devices to know when to expect connection interruptions. Having this information could give VR headsets a way to “better handle situations where there is latency” in order to maintain consistent connections. This doesn’t totally eliminate latency (nothing can), but it should at least enhance the overall experience.
Continuing down the list, Wi-Fi 7 introduces 4K QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) to the picture. To over-simplify, signals supported by 4K QAM can send 20 percent more data than the current 1024 QAM standard.
And finally, of course, Wi-Fi 7 is backward compatible with previous versions of Wi-Fi. You won’t have to worry if your old laptop will connect or not.
We recommend checking out the rest of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s posts because they go over some of the other advancements we didn’t include, like the 512 Compressed Block Ack.
A few companies have already launched Wi-Fi 7 routers. Last year, Netgear released the Nighthawk RS700. But more companies will soon be joining the fray. At CES 2024, Acer revealed its two Predator Connect gaming routers are ready to take full advantage of Wi-Fi 7’s fast speeds. The Predator Connect T7, most notably, supports Wi-Fi 7 tri-band for wider home coverage.
If you’re not ready to make the jump, TechRadar has a list of the best Wi-Fi routers for 2024 that still run on Wi-Fi 6.
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Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.