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What is WiFi 7 & How Does it Compare to WiFi 6?

WiFi 7 has arrived! Learn what it is, how it compares to WiFi 6/6E, the benefits of WiFi 7, and whether you should upgrade your home network.

WiFi 7 (IEEE 802.11be) is the next generation of wireless networking and it promises revolutionary speeds, lower latency, and enhanced connectivity for your home or office. But is it worth upgrading from WiFi 6 or 6E?

Below, we’ll explore everything you need to know about WiFi 7 and what it means for the future of high-speed internet.

What is WiFi 7?

WiFi 7 is the latest, cutting-edge WiFi standard that’s more stable, efficient, and faster than its predecessors. You can think of it as the supercharged successor to WiFi 6 and 6E. A few key features of WiFi 7 include:

  • Blazing Fast Speeds: These devices are capable of reaching theoretical speeds of up to 46 Gbps (Gigabits per second), which significantly outpaces previous WiFi generations.
  • Ultra-Low Latency: WiFi 7 is mostly designed for applications where responsiveness is key (i.e., online gaming, virtual reality (VR), and real-time video streaming).
  • Increased Capacity: With wider 320 MHz channels and 4K QAM, WiFi 7 can handle more devices simultaneously without unnecessary slowdowns and lags.
  • 6GHz Band Support: WiFi 7 boosts your r Internet speed and unleashes the full power of the 6 GHz band. Not only does this offer more channels, but it also greatly reduces network congestion, especially in crowded environments.

Is WiFi 7 Currently Available?

Yes, there are many WiFi 7 routers on the market now. However, compared to other devices, they’re still pretty rare. That’s especially true when it comes to everyday devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart home gadgets and the like.

However, with the emergence of artificial intelligence, you can expect many more of these devices to hit the market in late 2024 and early 2025, as they are uniquely equipped to enhance the newest technology available to consumers.

How Does WiFi 7 Compare to Previous Generations?

Let's break down the differences between WiFi 5, 6, 6E, and 7:

Feature WiFi 5 (802.11ac) WiFi 6 (802.11ax) WiFi 6E WiFi 7 (802.11be)
Release Year 2014 2019 2021 2024
Max. Speed (Theoretical) 3.5 Gbps 9.6 Gbps 9.6 Gbps 46 Gbps
Frequency Bands 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz
Channel Width Up to 160 MHz Up to 160 MHz Up to 160 MHz Up to 320 MHz
Modulation 256-QAM 1024-QAM 1024-QAM 4K QAM

It’s important to note that theoretical speeds refer to the maximum speed these devices can achieve in an ideal environment. However, the actual speed (i.e., throughput) can vary depending on a number of factors.

What Does WiFi 7 Offer?

One of the biggest advantages of WiFi 7 is it allows one device to connect to your network via multiple bands (multi-link operation). This allows for unbelievably fast speeds and lower latency.

Learn more about the additional benefits and use cases this tech brings to the table below:

  • Faster Speeds: Significantly improved performance for demanding activities like streaming 8K movies/games, file transfers, and large downloads.
  • Low Latency: Much smoother online gaming, VR, and video calls thanks to minimal delays and enhanced responsiveness.
  • Improved Reliability: Tri-band Multi-Link Operation (MLO) allows devices to connect to multiple WiFi channels at the same time. This improves overall stability while reducing interference.
  • Enhanced Capacity: Can be perfect for smart homes and offices with dozens of IoT (Internet of Things) connected WiFi devices, which increases the likelihood of seamless performance for everyone that’s connected to your network.

What Devices Can Be Used With WiFi 7?

If you want to experience lightning fast data rates on your home network via WiFi 7, you'll need:

  • WiFi 7 Router: Invest in a new WiFi 7 compatible router from brands like TP-Link, Netgear, or ASUS.
  • WiFi 7 Devices: Future-proof your setup with WiFi 7 capable laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

Do I Need WiFi 7?

From gamers to tech enthusiasts to everyone in between, WiFi 7 can enhance the overall user experience for just about everyone. However, whether upgrading to WiFi 7 is truly worth it depends on your needs and usage patterns.

Here's when it might be a smart move to take advantage of these new features:

  • Power Users Demanding Top Performance: Suppose you regularly stream 4K/8K content, play online games (where low latency is crucial), or use VR/AR applications. In that case, WiFi 7's speed and responsiveness will provide much appreciated enhancements for everyday usage.
  • Homes with Multiple Devices: Many simultaneously connected devices (i.e., laptops, smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, and IoT gadgets) all compete for bandwidth. The increased capacity of WiFi 7 facilitates a smoother and lag-free experience when compared to previous generations.
  • You Want to Future-Proof: Like any new tech stack, WiFi 7 is an investment in your home network. The more widely available WiFi 7 devices become, the more you’ll be able to take full advantage of them.
  • Your Current WiFi Struggles: If you’re currently experiencing too much buffering, slowdowns, or even frequently dropped connections despite having a good WiFi 6/6E router, WiFi 7 might be the solution you need to boost the performance and reliability of your home network.
  • Tech Enthusiasts Excited by Innovation: If you live for having the latest and greatest technology and want to experience the cutting edge of wireless networking, WiFi 7 is a must try.

What to Consider Before Upgrading

  • Cost: WiFi 7 routers and devices are a bit pricier than other routers, so you’ll want to carefully consider your budget and weigh the benefits against the cost before purchasing.
  • Device Availability: While WiFi 7 devices are starting to appear, widespread adoption may take some time. Thus, you’ll need to wait a bit before all your devices are compatible.

FAQs About WiFi 7

How Fast is WiFi 7 in the Real World?

In theory, your WiFi 7 router can hit speeds up to 46 Gbps. However, it’s important to note that it’s very unlikely to reach these speeds in everyday conditions. Though, it will still greatly outperform previous generations (i.e., WiFi 6 or 6E). This translates to faster downloads, smoother 4K/8K streaming, faster file transfers, and a much more responsive experience for your online gaming and other latency-sensitive apps.

Is WiFi 7 the Fastest?

Yes, WiFi 7 currently holds the title of the fastest wireless networking standard available to consumers. It significantly outpaces the theoretical maximum speeds of its predecessors, making it ideal for demanding applications that require high throughput and low latency.

Do I Need Special Equipment to Run WiFi 7?

Yes, taking full advantage of WiFi 7 requires both a compatible router and compatible devices. Here's what you'll need:

  • WiFi 7 Router: You'll need to upgrade your router to one specifically designed for WiFi 7 (with a Qualcomm chip), offered by brands like TP-Link, Netgear, or ASUS. These routers will unlock the full potential of this new technology.
  • WiFi 7 Devices: You can’t really experience the full benefits of WiFi 7 if your devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) aren’t WiFi 7 compatible. Look for this capability in future device releases, especially from major manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, and Intel.

How SmartMove Can Help You Find the Right Internet Provider

If you want to take advantage of WiFi 7, you’ll need the best high-speed home Internet available for your area — and we’re here to help you find it. Enter your address in the field below to find the best broadband Internet providers available to you based on your location.

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