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What is WiFi 7?

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Discover the next-gen wireless standard boosting businesses with speed, lower latency, and more capacity in our “What is WiFi 7” article.

What is WiFi 7?

In simple terms, WiFi 7 is the latest advancement in WiFi technology. It has been designed to deliver much faster speeds (4.8x faster than WiFi 6) and support more devices than ever before. By utilising a new frequency band in addition to the existing ones, it offers superior performance and capacity. It also offers reduced latency, meaning it takes less time to transfer data – in fact, it’s 100x better compared to WiFi 6.

This all ultimately translates to quicker internet speeds and a more reliable connection, even in high-traffic environments. WiFi 7 ensures a smoother and more efficient online experience, meeting the growing demands of modern connectivity.

Now let's take a more technical dive into "What is WiFi 7" - MLO, QAM, latency, bandwidth, and more

Based on IEEE 802.11be technology, WiFi 7 operates in the 6 GHz band in addition to the existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands used by earlier WiFi versions. This, along with its other improvements, means WiFi 7 is driving the next level of WiFi performance and can deliver speeds of up to 46Gbps, a significant improvement over WiFi 6’s maximum theoretical speed of 9.6Gbps. The key technical specifications of WiFi 7 include:

  • Superwide 320MHz channel bandwidth, only available in 6 GHz, allowing for more data to be transmitted simultaneously.
  • 4K QAM for 20% higher transmission rates than WiFi 6’s 1024 QAM, making it more efficient.
  • Multi-Link Operation (MLO), enables more efficient load balancing across links for even higher throughput and reliability.
  • Multiuser resource units (RUs) for enhanced spectral efficiency, allowing channel widths to be divided into smaller, more efficient subchannels when the full width isn’t required, and now with multiuser capability.
  • 512 compressed Block Ack, compared to 256 in WiFi 6, which essentially means more data units can be consolidated into a single frame, reducing transmission overhead.
  • 16 spatial streams, double the number available in WiFi 6, enabling more efficient data transmission and higher capacity. 

WiFi 7 has been designed specifically for higher throughput and aims to address the growing demand for faster wireless connectivity, driven by the proliferation of high-bandwidth applications such as 4K/8K video streaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, and cloud-based services. With its increased speed and capacity, WiFi 7 promises to deliver a seamless and reliable wireless experience, even in densely populated environments with numerous connected devices. This latest generation of WiFi is designed to provide extremely high throughput, deterministic low latency, and increased network capacity, enabling immersive and content-rich wireless experiences in cutting-edge applications. 

What are the key differences from previous WiFi generations?

WiFi 7 represents a significant leap forward in wireless networking technology compared to its predecessors. One of the most notable improvements is its blistering 46Gbps peak rates speed. This remarkable boost in speed is achieved through several enhancements over previous standards:

6 GHz

A key difference is the expanded spectrum utilisation due to 6 GHz band support, which provides access to a vast swath of uncongested spectrum and wider channels. This not only improves overall capacity but also reduces interference and congestion, particularly in densely populated areas or environments with numerous wireless devices.

It also doubles the channel size compared to WiFi 6, going from 160MHz to 320MHz, drastically increasing the amount of data that can be transmitted at once.

AFC

WiFi 7 also brings significant advancements in range and coverage by using Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC). By cross-referencing links in the area, to tell the router which channels are available, it ensures less interference with incumbents.

This is particularly beneficial for large office spaces, warehouses, or outdoor deployments where consistent connectivity is crucial.

What is WiFi 7
Preamble puncturing

Preamble puncturing is also now a mandatory requirement to meet the new WiFi 7 standards. Also referred to as “punctured transmission”, this allows the WiFi access point and client to segment a slice of the channel if there is any interference, where possible, while continuing to use as much of the spectrum in that channel as possible to preserve the network’s overall effectiveness. Essentially, it contributes to maintaining WiFi 7’s improved throughput and lower latency even when interference is a challenge.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is another area where WiFi 7 shines. With improved power management protocols and more efficient data transmission techniques, WiFi 7 devices can operate for longer periods on battery power, making it well-suited for Internet of Things (IoT) applications and mobile devices.

Multi-user

Furthermore, WiFi 7 introduces enhanced multi-user capabilities, allowing more devices to communicate at the same time without sacrificing performance. This is achieved through advanced scheduling algorithms and spatial reuse techniques, enabling more efficient use of the available bandwidth and reducing contention among devices.

Overall, WiFi 7 represents a transformative leap in wireless networking technology, and will be a game-changer for businesses seeking to future-proof their wireless infrastructure and meet the ever-increasing demands of data-intensive applications and high-density environments.

What are the main benefits of WiFi 7 for businesses?

WiFi 7 offers several significant advantages for businesses, making it a compelling upgrade from previous WiFi generations. One of the primary benefits is its ability to deliver higher throughput and faster data transfer speeds, which is crucial for bandwidth-intensive applications and services. With WiFi 7, businesses can enjoy seamless performance for tasks such as large file transfers, high-definition video streaming, and real-time collaboration tools, without experiencing bottlenecks or delays due to buffering.

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WiFi 7 also promises enhanced reliability and lower latency, which are critical factors for time-sensitive applications and real-time communication. It can deliver data more efficiently, reducing packet loss and improving overall network performance.

This increased reliability and lower latency are particularly beneficial for applications such as video conferencing, remote collaboration tools, and industrial automation systems, where seamless and responsive connectivity is essential.

Additionally, WiFi 7’s MLO technology can help businesses maintain a stable connection throughout their entire network, even as users move around the office, thanks to its advanced mesh system capabilities.

As mentioned above, WiFi 7 also offers improved energy efficiency, which can translate into cost savings for businesses. WiFi 7 devices can operate with lower power consumption, potentially extending battery life and reducing energy costs associated with running wireless networks. 

What is WiFi 7 used for in business?

WiFi 7 will enable a wide range of advanced use cases and applications:

High-density public venues

With its unprecedented speeds and improved performance, WiFi 7 can support high-density public venues, such as stadiums, airports, and convention centres, where thousands of devices need to connect simultaneously without experiencing lag or congestion.

IoT

Moreover, WiFi 7’s increased bandwidth and lower latency make it an ideal solution for seamlessly connecting and managing large-scale Internet of Things (IoT) deployments. Businesses can leverage WiFi 7 to efficiently monitor and control vast networks of IoT devices, enabling real-time data collection, analysis, and automation – ideal across various industries. 

Extended Reality (XR)

Another exciting application of WiFi 7 is augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These immersive technologies require high-speed, low-latency wireless connectivity to deliver the best user experience. WiFi 7’s capabilities can enable businesses to create highly engaging AR/VR applications for training, product visualisation, and remote collaboration, enhancing productivity and efficiency unhampered by connectivity challenges.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is another area where WiFi 7 can make a significant impact.

With its ability to transfer large amounts of data at lightning-fast speeds, WiFi 7 can facilitate seamless cloud integration, enabling businesses to leverage cloud-based services, storage, and computing resources more effectively. This can streamline operations, reduce infrastructure costs, and enhance scalability. 

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Furthermore, WiFi 7’s advanced features, such as Multi-Link Operation (MLO) and improved interference mitigation, can benefit businesses operating in dense urban environments or areas with significant wireless interference. These capabilities ensure reliable and consistent connectivity even in challenging conditions, ensuring uninterrupted business operations and productivity. 

Security considerations and improvements

WiFi 7 introduces several security enhancements to address vulnerabilities in previous WiFi generations and provide more robust protection against cyber threats:

WPA3

One of the key improvements is the mandatory adoption of WPA3, the latest WiFi security protocol that replaces the aging WPA2 standard. WPA3 brings stronger encryption and authentication mechanisms, making it much harder for attackers to crack passwords or intercept wireless traffic. It includes features like Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), which provides robust protection against dictionary attacks, and Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE), which enables encrypted connections even without a pre-shared key. 

Encryption

Additionally, WiFi 7 supports the latest encryption standards, such as the 256-bit Galois/Counter Mode Protocol (GCMP-256), providing stronger data protection than the currently used CCMP-128. This enhanced encryption makes it virtually impossible for attackers to decrypt wireless traffic, even with powerful computing resources. 

WIPS

Another significant security improvement in WiFi 7 is the support for Wireless Intrusion Prevention Systems (WIPS). WIPS can detect and prevent unauthorised access, rogue access points, and other wireless security threats in real-time, enhancing the overall security posture of WiFi networks. 

However, it’s important to note that no technology is completely immune to security risks. As WiFi 7 becomes more widely adopted, new vulnerabilities and attack vectors may emerge. Businesses must remain vigilant and follow best practices for WiFi security, such as regularly updating firmware, implementing strong access controls, and monitoring their networks for suspicious activity. 

Overall, WiFi 7 represents a significant step forward in wireless security, providing businesses with more robust protection against cyber threats and ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of their wireless communications. 

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WiFi 7 and 5G: complementary wireless technologies

WiFi 7 and 5G serve different purposes and have distinct strengths and roles, but they are complementary technologies that can coexist and even converge in certain scenarios. For instance, 5G can serve as a backhaul for WiFi 7 networks, providing high-speed connectivity to WiFi access points. This convergence can enable seamless handoffs between WiFi and cellular networks, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity for mobile devices. 

WiFi 7 and channel: keeping ahead of advancements

As the demand for wireless connectivity continues to grow, driven by the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, augmented and virtual reality applications, and the increasing reliance on cloud computing, the future of WiFi and wireless networking will undoubtedly evolve to meet these emerging needs. With papers on WiFi 8 already in circulation, it’s key that partners stay ahead of these technological advancements and strategically plan for their adoption.

Westbase.io is here to support you with your WiFi 7 adoption and wider networking requirements. We hope that you’ve found this “What is WiFi 7” article useful as a starting point, and our team of experts can now help you to select the right technology and solution. We can also provide you with advice on support options and services that can accelerate your time-to-market on WiFi 7 deployments, as well as enhance your in-life care and support for improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Discover our WiFi 7 solutions

Westbase.io has served the channel for over 35 years with leading services, network access, and XR solutions. Our WiFi 7 range is now available, so place your orders today by contacting your account manager on +44 (0) 1291 437 567, +31 (0) 35 799 2290 or hello@westbase.io.

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