Amidst the gadgets we use daily, Wi-Fi routers are often overlooked – until a glitch disrupts our connection. However, the Wi-Fi landscape is poised for a significant transformation with the emergence of Wi-Fi 7.
Although the shift from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E introduced the speedier 6 GHz band, it didn’t incite a rush to upgrade to the best Wi-Fi 6E routers. In 2021, when Wi-Fi 6E debuted, only a handful possessed smartphones or laptops compatible with its faster 6 GHz band.
Today, a new era dawns as the inaugural Wi-Fi 7-powered routers, exemplified by TP-Link’s Archer BE800 and Deco BE85, step into the spotlight. Unlike Wi-Fi 6E, Wi-Fi 7 offers such compelling enhancements that upgrading becomes a tempting proposition, even necessitating replacements for your existing smartphone, laptop, and router.
Presently, the OnePlus 11 stands as the sole Wi-Fi 7-compatible smartphone, but the market anticipates a surge of compatible devices throughout the upcoming months and next year. On the laptop and desktop front, Intel has teased the integration of Wi-Fi 7 into computers starting next year.
Whether you’ve been delaying your router upgrade or considering liberating yourself from pesky ISP (Internet Service Provider) fees, delve into three compelling reasons why Wi-Fi 7 might just be the transformative home network upgrade you’ve been waiting for.
Unparalleled Speeds The pièce de résistance of Wi-Fi 7 is undoubtedly its incredible speed. Real-world testing of TP-Link’s Archer BE800 yielded speeds close to two gigabits per second (Gbps). Yet, this barely scratches the surface of Wi-Fi 7’s capabilities.
While your internet speed and ISP plan play a role, Wi-Fi 7 routers can achieve a staggering peak speed of 46 Gbps. To contextualize, armed with a Wi-Fi 7 router and a high-end gaming PC, you could theoretically download an upcoming title like Bethesda’s Starfield in slightly over three seconds – assuming a premium ISP plan.
To fully tap into Wi-Fi 7’s prowess, ISPs need to catch up by offering multi-gig internet plans. Many ISPs already offer such plans, and with the potency of Wi-Fi 7 routers, this trend will likely accelerate. Presently, both AT&T and Frontier propose 5-gigabit plans, and Ziply Fiber boasts a 10-gigabit option. As Wi-Fi 7 garners mainstream adoption, anticipate ISPs responding with even more enticing offerings.
Expansive Data Channels Beyond raw speed, Wi-Fi 7 unveils remarkably wider data channels, translating to increased bandwidth for your devices. Moreover, the surplus of channels spanning various frequencies mitigates interference risks in densely populated areas.
While Wi-Fi 5 pioneered broader 160 MHz channels, Wi-Fi 7 elevates this concept with revolutionary 320 MHz channels. Leveraging the new 6 GHz band and 320 MHz channels, Wi-Fi 7 delivers double the throughput. This proves particularly pivotal in homes teeming with devices, minimizing bandwidth contention.
Imagine these 320 MHz channels as expansive highways for data ‘vehicles’. A wider highway accommodates more traffic, and similarly, wider channels facilitate heightened data throughput.
Multi-Link Operation If speed and bandwidth expansion weren’t enticing enough, brace for the game-changing Multi-Link Operation.
Traditionally, Wi-Fi-enabled devices like phones and laptops are connected to a single Wi-Fi band at a time. With Wi-Fi 6, devices could access the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands. Wi-Fi 6E extended this to the new 6 GHz band. While advanced mesh Wi-Fi systems consolidated these bands into a unified network, they remained shackled to single-band connections.
Choosing the wrong band could significantly throttle your download speeds. For example, the 2.4 GHz band offered speeds of 450 to 600 Mbps, while the 5 GHz band surged to 1,300 Mbps, and the 6 GHz band soared to 9.6 Gbps.
Enter Wi-Fi 7’s Multi-Link Operation, revolutionizing this landscape. Devices can now communicate across diverse bands and channels, enhancing throughput, reducing latency, and yielding more stable connections.
Should You Wait for Wi-Fi 7 or Upgrade Now? As with any novel wireless standard, a caveat accompanies Wi-Fi 7. Routers are currently pricier, and compatible clients are scarce. Thankfully, these dynamics are primed to change in the forthcoming year.
Networking companies typically debut high-end products first, followed by mid-range and budget offerings as early adopters embrace the latest tech.
OnePlus has demonstrated Wi-Fi 7’s smartphone potential, with Samsung and others poised to follow. Apple might delay Wi-Fi 7 integration, as whispers suggest the iPhone 15 will launch with Wi-Fi 6E. Thus, to embrace Wi-Fi 7 support, consider awaiting the iPhone 16’s fall 2024 debut.
If you possess a Wi-Fi 6E router, bide your time with budget-friendly Wi-Fi 7 options. However, if you wield a Wi-Fi 6 or even Wi-Fi 5 router, the upgrade to Wi-Fi 7 is a prudent move. Additionally, as Wi-Fi 7 gains traction, Wi-Fi 6E router prices will likely plummet, and Wi-Fi 6E is worth considering, especially for harnessing the 6 GHz band’s speed.
Unless you urgently require the speediest Wi-Fi router and compatible devices, transitioning to Wi-Fi 7 is a journey likely to unfold over the next few years. Upon arrival, relish the promise of amplified speeds, broader data channels, and the transformative Multi-Link Operation.
Techy is a seasoned writer and expert in the fields of technology and finance. With a passion for demystifying complex concepts, Techy has a knack for breaking down intricate topics into easily digestible content for readers.