Wi-Fi 6 was released in 2020, and Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) is just around the corner with expected release in 2024. Wi-Fi 6 implements a number of technological improvements to increase speed and efficiency. As each Wi-Fi generation improves on the previous, Wi-Fi 7 promises to include even more exciting advancements.
Performance Enhancements of Wi-Fi 7
Previous generations of Wi-Fi run on radio bands 2.4GHz or 5GHz. Shortly after the release of Wi-Fi 6, the Federal Communications Commission voted to open the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi use. Wi-Fi 6E was released in 2021 to take advantage of the new band. However, standard Wi-Fi 6 devices still only run up to 5GHz, making Wi-Fi 7 the first generation to make full use of the higher speeds and efficiency available through 6GHz.
Wi-Fi 6 features an improved version of Multi-User Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MU-MIMO) that allows multiple devices to connect to the same router without bandwidth decreases. Wi-Fi 7 is expected to improve on MU-MIMO even further and potentially double efficient connections.
With access to three radio bands (2.4, 5 and 6 GHz) Wi-Fi 7 will have improved Multi-Band Operation (MBO). While Wi-Fi 6 also uses MBO, Wi-Fi 7’s ability to send data on up to three bands simultaneously (Wi-Fi 6 only supports up to two) will further improve speed and efficiency.
Possible Technologies for Wi-Fi 7 and Beyond
Wi-Fi 7 is still in development, so the exact tools it will enable aren’t definitive. However, there a few exciting possibilities that if not implemented in Wi-Fi 7 may be utilized in future generations.
An advancement of MU-MIMO in development is Coordinated or Clustered Multiuser MIMO (CMU-MIMO). Through CMU-MIMO, Wi-Fi will run through multiple network access points, allowing a spread throughout an area for device connectivity without loss of efficiency or bandwidth. This technology is still in development with hopes of availability by the release of Wi-Fi 7.
It’s been discovered that Wi-Fi signals can detect not only when someone enters a room but also specific gestures. Wi-Fi can also collect biomimetic measurements without the need for cameras or other sensors installed in a home. This technology could be useful for home security or monitoring the wellbeing of children or elderly inhabitants. Such technology is currently limited but could become a standard with Wi-Fi 7 or a later generation.
Smart Car Technology
Wi-Fi 6 is being implemented in vehicles. A vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot benefits passengers who rely on their devices for business or entertainment. It also aids smart car technology, enabling vehicles to communicate with each other and smart infrastructure. 5G will aid smart car tech as well, working with Wi-Fi to provide greater efficiency. Wi-Fi 7 or later may become a standard across all consumer vehicle models.