Just one month ago, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced FCC certification for Wi-Fi 6E, a cutting-edge standard that utilizes the 6GHz band to reduce network congestion. But Wi-Fi 6E may not get the hype it deserves, because Wi-Fi 7 is already in the works.
The Wi-Fi 7 (or 802.11be) standard centers around an Extremely High-Throughput (EHT), meaning that it’s all about speed. While Wi-Fi 7 isn’t entirely set in stone, experts expect the technology to support speeds of at least 30GBps. That’s roughly three times faster than Wi-Fi 6 or 6E (9.6GBps) and about ten times faster than Wi-Fi 5 (3.5GBps), which is most the common wireless standard in homes today.
Now, these are just theoretical speeds that users will only ever reach in ideal conditions. Physical obstacles and network congestion have a dramatic impact wireless networking speeds—that’s the point in Wi-Fi 6E, which shares a theoretical top speed with Wi-Fi 6 but is better equipped to reach that speed thanks to its congestion-busting 6GHz band.
But even in the worst conditions, Wi-Fi 7 should dramatically outperform previous standards. The Wi-Fi Alliance expects this technology to power the cloud-based future, which will deliver high-quality VR/AR graphics, cloud desktop solutions (such as Windows 365), and cloud gaming streams with minimal latency or jitter.
Here’s what the Wi-Fi alliance says about Wi-Fi 7:
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, as well as mission critical and industrial applications. As with other Wi-Fi generations, Wi-Fi 7 will be backward compatible and coexist with legacy devices in the 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz spectrum bands.
The Wi-Fi 7 standard is still a work in progress, so its theoretical top speed and release date are not finalized. That said, MediaTek is developing live demos for Wi-Fi 7 and claims that the tech could debut in 2023.
Even if Wi-Fi 7 becomes available next year, I doubt that the average person (or even an enthusiast) will benefit from the tech for quite a while. Routers that support Wi-Fi 6E are already pretty expensive, and if you don’t have a crazy-fast internet plan, the difference between Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 may not even matter.