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Wi-Fi 7: The Next Generation of WiFi (2024)

wifi 7

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With the development of WLAN technology, people increasingly rely on Wi-Fi connections for their online activities; on the other hand, More and more new applications emerge which require WiFI with higher throughput and lower latency, such as ultra high-quality resolution video streaming (such as 4K or 8k, with a throughput of up to 20 Gpbs),  VR/AR, video conference and collaboration applications. 

Although the Wi-Fi 6 that released in 2018 with big improvements in throughput and latency, and Wi-Fi 6E was just released, which is still not enough to meet those new applications, the industry and market urgently need a new version of WiFi. As such, the IEEE has just released an updated version of its wireless networking standard called IEEE 802.11 be Enhanced High Throughput, also called WiFi 7.

But what does it mean for you? What are some of the changes you can look forward to? Let’s take a closer look at it in this article.

What is WiFi 7?

The IEEE 802.11 Working Group 11 is being (WGbe) was officially formed in May 2019, this group includes members from both academia and industry. The group consists of eight task groups, including TGbe, which focuses on developing the next version of wireless networking technology, that’s WiFi 7.

WiFi 7 is the next generation of wireless networking technology, also known as IEEE802.11be Extremely high throughput (EHT). It supports all three frequency bands (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz) to fully utilize spectrum resources. WiFi 6 was designed to address the increasing number of wireless networks in the world. However, WiFi 7 aims to provide blazing-fast speeds for every device with new technologies.

WiFi 7 brings 320MHz ultra-wideband (UWB), 4096-QAM, multi-radio unit (Multi-RU), and multi-link operation to provide speed 4x faster than WiFi 6, which is excellent for applications that require high throughput and low latency.

The standard will be released in two stages. The TGbe has announced its intention to release 1 at the end of 2022. Release 2 is scheduled for release by early 2024.

 

 

WiFi 7 is the next generation of wireless networking technology, also known as IEEE802.11be Extremely high throughput (EHT), it brings 320MHz ultra-wideband (UWB), 4096-QAM, multi-radio unit (Multi-RU), and multi-link operation to provide speed 4x faster than WiFi 6, which is excellent for applications that require high throughput and low latency.

WiFi 7 vs WiFi 6

Wi-Fi 7 is designed to improve performance over existing Wi-Fi technologies dramatically. In particular, it aims to increase the maximum theoretical data rate up to 40 Gbps while providing low-latency access assurances.

Compared with Wi-Fi 6 standards, Wi-Fi 7 adds several key enhancements to the PHY and MAC layers. These include:

• A single antenna system architecture

• An enhanced channel estimation method based on OFDM signaling

• A novel spatial multiplexing scheme for MIMO systems

• Support for coexistence with IEEE 802.11ax

New Features of WiFi 7

In fact, the goal of WiFi 7 is very clear, that is, to increase the throughput of WLAN to 30Gbps throughput and provide low-latency access assurances; of course, this goal is easy to state, but difficult to achieve. To reach this objective, the standard specifies PHY and MAC layer modifications. Wi-Fi 7 brings the latest technology to the table, including:

Support 6GHz Frequency Band

Wi-Fi 6 uses two frequency bands, 2GHz, and 5Ghz. In earlier Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, the 2.4GHz frequency has been largely used, which make this frequency very congested. The 5Ghz frequency provides more bandwidth than 2.4Ghz, which means faster speed and greater throughput, however, it’s also become more and more congested due to its widely used in routers, smart devices such as smartphones, and tables, while 6GHz is better for solving this issue.

In fact, WiFi 7 is not the first wireless network standard to use the 6GHz frequency band. The 6GHz frequency band has been introduced since WiFi 6E. As a result, this part of the Wi‑Fi 7 specification is more about the legacy of the Wi‑Fi 6E specification, which also allows Wi‑Fi 7 to be backward compatible with other WiFi standards including WiFi 6E.

6GHz spectrum

The 6GHz band is a globally unified spectrum, extending from 5925MHz to 7125MHz, for a total of 1200MHz spectrum, which means that an additional 7 x160MHz channels, 14 x 80MHz channels, or 29 x 40MHz channels, or 59 x 20MHz channels are provided. Equivalent to directly doubling the available channels of a WiFi network. The biggest significance of introducing the 6GHz frequency band is that the newly added spectrum can not only alleviate the problem of channel congestion, but also help to improve the data concurrency rate, and because the 6GHz frequency band can only be used by WiFi 6E and WiFi 7 devices, this can ensure that no The channel will be occupied by the old WiFi 4/WiFi 5/WiFi 6 devices so that the wireless devices in the 6GHz band have a sufficiently low communication delay.

Up to 320MHz Bandwidth

Current 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies are becoming more and more crowded nowadays, especially for those applications which require high bandwidth and low latency, such as VR/AR, wireless gaming, and online video conference. To meet the maximum of 30Gbps throughput, Wi-Fi 7 innovatively extends to 6GHz frequency, Wi-Fi 7 will support up to 320 MHz bandwidth, allowing operators to utilize larger blocks of spectrum for high-speed wireless connectivity. This includes both contiguous and non-contiguous spectrum allocation, such as 160MHz + 80MHz and 160MHz + 160MHz. These expanded spectrum allocations allow operators to offer greater capacity and improved QoS over legacy Wi-Fi technologies.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that it is working closely with major chipset vendors to ensure that Wi-Fi 7 devices will be backward compatible with current WiFi standards. All Wi-Fi 7-certified products must use the latest version of the Wi-Fi Alliance certification program, which ensures interoperability across multiple device platforms.

Support Multi-RU mechanism

Wi-Fi 6 introduces a new spectrum resource allocation scheme called “multi-RU,” which allows a single device to use multiple RUs simultaneously. This feature enables devices to utilize the full capacity of the wireless medium while maintaining the simplicity and ease of operation required for consumer devices.

However, the WIFi 6 allows each user can only send or receive frames on the assigned specific RU, which greatly limits the flexibility of spectrum resource scheduling. To solve this problem and further improve spectral efficiency, Wi-Fi 7 defines a mechanism that allows multiple RUs to be allocated to a single user. Of course, in order to balance the complexity of implementation and the utilization of spectrum, certain restrictions are imposed on the combination of RUs in the protocol; that is, small-sized RUs (RUs less than 242-Tone) can only be combined with small-sized RUs, and large-sized RUs can only be combined with large-sized RUs. (RUs greater than or equal to 242-Tone) can only be combined with large-sized RUs, and mixed-use of small-sized RUs and large-sized RUs is not allowed.

New 4096-QAM Modulation Technology

The highest modulation method of Wi-Fi 6 is 1024-QAM, in which the modulation symbol carries 10 bits. In order to further increase the rate, Wi-Fi 7 will introduce 4096-QAM, so that the modulation symbol carries 12 bits. Under the same encoding, Wi-Fi 7’s 4096-QAM can achieve a 20% faster rate than Wi-Fi 6’s 1024-QAM.

WiFi 6 4096-QAM Modulation

Introduce Multi-Link Mechanism

To achieve efficient utilization of all spectrum resources, there is an urgent demand for introducing new radio frequency (RF) management, coordination, and transmission mechanisms at 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz frequencies.

The IEEE 802.11ad task group (TGbe), under the guidance of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WGA), defined Multi-Link Aggregation (MLA).

This technology enables multiple wireless devices to communicate simultaneously over one radio link without interference. In addition, it supports both single-carrier operations and multi-carrier operations.

This includes the MAC architecture of Enhanced Multi-Link Aggregation (eMLA), Multi-Link Channel Access (MLCA), and Multi-Link Transmission (MLT). These are used to aggregate multiple wireless links into one logical link, allowing simultaneous data transmissions across multiple physical links.

In addition to eMLA, MLCA, and MLT, additional features such as dynamic scheduling and adaptive modulation/coding schemes are included. The goal is to provide efficient utilization of all available spectrum resources, while ensuring reliability and security of communications.

More Data Streams & Enhanced MIMO

With WiFi 7, there are now 16 spatial streams instead of eight, which theoretically could increase the physical transmission rate by up to twice as much as Wi-Fi 6.

In addition to doubling the number of spatial streams, Wi-Fi7 adds enhanced multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), allowing multiple devices to use the same frequency simultaneously.

In addition, WiFi 7 offers enhanced multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), allowing stations to communicate directly with one another without relying on central coordination. This means that stations don’t need to wait for the central controller to decide whether they are allowed to transmit. Instead, MU-MIMO allows individual stations to make decisions about what information to send based on the environment around them.

This means that 16 data streams can be delivered over multiple stations simultaneously, rather than being limited to eight. That means that you could theoretically use four different wireless devices to connect to the internet at once.

Coordinated Among Multiple APs

Currently, within the framework of the 802.11 protocol, there is actually not much cooperation between APs. Common WLAN functions such as automatic tuning and intelligent roaming are all vendor-defined features. The purpose of inter-AP cooperation is only to optimize channel selection, adjust inter-AP load, etc., so as to achieve the purpose of efficient utilization and balanced allocation of radio frequency resources. Coordinated scheduling among multiple APs in Wi-Fi 7, including inter-cell coordination planning in time and frequency domains, inter-cell interference coordination, and distributed MIMO, can effectively reduce the interference between APs, greatly reducing the interference between APs. Improve the utilization of air interface resources.

There are several methods for implementing multi-AP coordination, which include C-OFCMA (Coordinated OFDM/CDMA), CSR (Coordinate Spatial Reuse), COBF (Coordinated Beamformer) and JT (Joint Transmission).

Applications

With all of those new features added to WiFi 7, which make it very suitable for those applications which require high throughput and low latency, such as:

When will we be Able to Use WiFi 7?

It is still too early to answer this question because even WiFi 6 is still in the early stage, and WiFi 7 still needs to be finalized. According to experience, it usually takes 3 to 4 years for new WiFi products to reach a 50% penetration rate after being launched on a large scale. The first standard of WiFi 7 will not be officially announced until next year. There is no much information for a mass market launch.

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