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  • Wi-Fi 7 vs Wi-Fi 6

    Wi-Fi 7 vs Wi-Fi 6

    Date: 06.03.2024

    The world is moving at such a pace that while one technology has not yet fully settled in the market, it is already being replaced by another. This is about the new wireless connection standard, Wi-Fi 7, which is set to gain a new version in the spring of 2024. Does another number in the name mean a revolution?

    Infrastructure Outpaces Standards

    The official introduction of Wi-Fi 7 is announced for the spring of 2024, yet the first devices with the new standard appeared at the end of 2023. Phones, tablets, routers, or motherboards are already available on the market. To outpace the competition, manufacturers act on preliminary versions of the standardization project, and not in all cases will they ensure a connection compatible with Wi-Fi 7. However, the new devices will still perform well for standards such as Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E.

    ProtocolsWi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 7
    IEEE Standard802.11 ax802.11 be
    Channels160 MHz320 MHz
    WPA 3YesYes
    6 GHz bandYesYes
    AFC ServiceYesYes
    Transmission9.6 Gbps10 Gbps+

    Major players like Cisco or Intel are taking a cool-headed approach, aiming to provide their customers with the quality they expect. Both companies have announced the release of their devices adapted to the Wi-Fi 7 standard for the second half of 2024, by which time the final technical parameters will be known. However, in their press releases, they reveal that the work is already very advanced.

    Faster, More, Stronger with Wi-Fi 7

    Each subsequent version is announced as revolutionary, yet even Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E did not make such a leap forward as the seventh generation.

    The first significant difference is the data transfer speed. In its original version, Wi-Fi 7 was supposed to achieve over 10 Gb/s compared to the maximum 9.6 Gb/s for Wi-Fi 6E. However, the first tests show that reality is much more surprising, and the performance of the new standard can reach up to 40 Gb/s. Combined with very low latencies and reliability, scenarios straight out of a sci-fi movie become possible.

    Operating at a 320 MHz frequency (Wi-Fi 6E 160 MHz) and using 16×16 MU-MIMO technology, Wi-Fi 7 can effectively handle multiple devices simultaneously, making it well-suited for large manufacturing plants or public spaces. The extended signal spectrum will allow for the connection of equipment that could not effectively communicate with Wi-Fi 6E, especially those with 6GHz transmitters.

    MU-MIMO w WiFi 7

    Another issue is switching between access points, which for Wi-Fi 7 is supposed to be virtually unnoticeable. This is a major advantage especially in warehouse halls, facilities serviced by autonomous machines, and other places where high mobility is required.

    Automatic Frequency Coordination (AFC) in Wi-Fi 7

    AFC, or Automated Frequency Coordination, is a key functionality in Wi-Fi 7 (IEEE 802.11be), enabling intelligent management of the available frequency spectrum in the 6 GHz bands. Thanks to AFC, Wi-Fi 7 devices can dynamically adjust their transmission channels to avoid interference with other spectrum users, including licensed services already using this band. This functionality is particularly important since the 6 GHz band is new to Wi-Fi and requires sharing with existing users, such as mobile satellite services or communication systems for security services.

    Multi-Link Operations (MLO) in Wi-Fi 7

    This is one of the new features introduced in Wi-Fi 7 (IEEE 802.11be), which allows the simultaneous use of multiple frequency bands (such as 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz) by one device. Thanks to MLO, devices can transmit data simultaneously on different bands, significantly increasing throughput, reducing latencies, and improving the overall reliability of the connection.

    Key MLO features

    • Increased throughput: By simultaneously utilizing multiple bands, MLO enables bandwidth aggregation, which translates into faster data transfer.
    • Reduced latency: MLO allows for the selection of the least congested band for critical data requiring low latency, which is crucial for applications such as online gaming or real-time communication.
    • Improved reliability: In the event of interference on one band, MLO can automatically redirect data to another, less congested band, ensuring connection continuity even in a disrupted environment.
    • Flexible resource management: Thanks to intelligent traffic splitting across different bands, MLO allows for more efficient use of available spectrum resources, which is especially important in crowded network environments.

    Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) in Wi-Fi 7

    TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) in the context of Wi-Fi 7 refers to a set of technologies and standards designed to ensure precise and predictable data delivery in wireless networks. TSN is particularly important in applications where delays, jitter (latency variability), and delivery guarantee are critical, such as industrial control, live audio and video, and building automation.

    What does TSN do?

    • Transmission scheduling: TSN allows for setting transmission schedules for high-priority data, minimizing the risk of collisions and network congestion.
    • Latency control: Provides mechanisms to limit the maximum transmission delays, which is crucial for applications requiring low latency.
    • Quality of Service (QoS) guarantee: Enables prioritization of different data streams, ensuring that critical applications receive the required bandwidth and minimal delays.
    • Time synchronization: Thanks to time synchronization between devices, TSN enables precise coordination of actions over time, which is essential in environments where time accuracy is critical.

    HARQ – Hybrid Automatic Repeat reQuest

    This is an advanced error control mechanism that combines techniques of automatic repeat request (ARQ) and forward error correction (FEC). This mechanism aims to increase the efficiency and reliability of data transmission in wireless networks, especially in conditions where the signal quality may be variable or suboptimal.

    In traditional ARQ, the receiver checks incoming data packets for errors. If errors are detected, the receiver requests the retransmission of the affected packet. This approach can be inefficient, especially in conditions of weak signal where the probability of errors is high.

    FEC, on the other hand, allows the receiver to correct certain errors without the need for data retransmission, by attaching additional information to the transmitted packets. This enables the reconstruction of the original data even in case of partial damage.

    HARQ combines these two approaches, offering dynamic adjustment between them depending on network conditions. Thus, when a data packet is incorrectly received, the receiver can first try to correct errors using FEC information. If this fails, it can then request the data to be resent, potentially with an even greater amount of corrective data to increase the chances of correct reception on the next attempt.

    The introduction of HARQ to Wi-Fi 7 significantly improves data transmission reliability, especially in environments with high levels of interference or in high-throughput connections. Thanks to the increased efficiency of data transmission, users can expect better service quality, lower latencies, and overall more stable wireless connections.

    Latecomers Gain

    When will we see Wi-Fi 7 in widespread use?

    According to the Wireless Broadband Alliance report, among users investing in the modernization of their wireless systems, as many as 41% plan to create an efficient network based on the Wi-Fi 7 standard by the end of 2024.

    On the other side, we have those who have only recently implemented Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure and may not necessarily plan to follow the technology. Those who have digital transformation still ahead of them will benefit from it.

    WiFi6 Meraki

    It’s not worth skimping on technology, but money should be spent wisely. Wi-Fi 7 is a new communication standard that dominates the world, but this does not mean that everyone who implements new solutions will gain an advantage.

    In network construction, signal coverage, appropriately selected infrastructure, and above all – a good match to the needs of users count, so before we choose equipment on our own, it is worth consulting with experts who will help choose the best quality for the best price.

    Looking for a partner to design a robust and efficient wireless network for your office, campus, or autonomous warehouse? Discover our wireless network design services.



    Joanna Sajkowska

    Experienced in the areas of portfolio management, communication strategy and technical content. Backed by her background in Systems Engineering and business development, Joanna puts focus on translating features into benefits and showcasing the unique values of Grandmetric products and services.

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