Don't look now, but the latest upgrade to the Wi-Fi standard, IEEE 802.11be (aka "Wi-Fi 7), is here … almost.
On Wednesday, the No. 2-sized U.S. cable company, Charter Communications, announced that it has partnered with Qualcomm Technologies to deliver Wi-Fi 7 routers to its Spectrum Advanced WiFi customers starting in 2024, when the Wi-Fi standard is set to be fully baked.
Also read: WiFi Gets Its Biggest Upgrade in Decades
Spectrum Wi-Fi users, who can lease their routers for $5 a month, are in for a major speed boost, with Wi-Fi 7 capable of throughputs up to 46 gigabits per second. That's 4.8 times faster than routers built around the current Wi-Fi 6 standard (802.11ax) and 13 times faster than Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac).
Wi-Fi 7 is already being marketed around a key tech acronym — EHT (aka “extremely high throughput”).
Debuting in 2019, Wi-Fi 6 offered a major speed advantage over Wi-Fi 5. Two years later, the standard was "extended" into Wi-Fi 6E, which took advantage of the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allocate 1,200 MHz of 6 GHz spectrum for unlicensed use. That immediately tripled the bandwidth available with incumbent 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum bands.
Our sibling pub, Tom's Guide, published back in February a useful comparison of Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7.
Wi-Fi 7 further builds on that, doubling maximum channel bandwidth to 320 MHz.
Wi-Fi 7 also offers an increase in quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), a technique for encoding radio signals. Wi-Fi 7 ups the 1024-QAM of Wi-Fi 6 to 4096-QAM — comparable to TVs jumping from HD to 4K resolutions.
Wi-Fi 7 also includes a new feature called “multi-link operation” (MLO), which enables the aggregation of multiple radio links in different spectrum bands. This increases throughput and cuts down on network congestion and latency.
“The leading Wi-Fi 7 innovations from Qualcomm Technologies will enable our Advanced Wi-Fi service to continue delivering robust and responsive internet connectivity and ultra-fast Wi-Fi speeds to our customers,” Dave Rodrian, Charter’s group VP of Wi-Fi products, said in a statement. “This next generation of Wi-Fi will support the delivery of new experiences, such as fully immersive, ultra-low latency VR, and aligns with our network evolution plan to enable multi-gig wireless connectivity across our entire footprint.”
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!