Wi-Fi 7 Offers 4X Speed at 46 Gigabit

John Lister's picture

The next generation of WiFi will be available by spring, 2024. WiFi 7 should be up to four times faster than the previous generation.

The theoretical maximum speed of 46 Gbps (gigabit) is not something anyone is likely to see in their home setup. However, it could make it more likely that users will be able to take full advantage of even the fastest home broadband connections. For those unaware, one gigabit is equal to 125 megabytes. Therefore, 46 gigabits is 5750 megabytes. Most standard hard drives today transfer speeds of around 100+ megabytes per second (not includes NVMe or SSD).

For reference, WiFi 5 has a maximum data rate of 3.5 Gbps (437 megabytes), while WiFi 6's figure is 9.6 Gbps (1200 megabytes). (Source: flatpanelshd.com)

Cabling Obsolete?

That said, there is a massive difference between theoretical maximums and real-world results.

The numbers represent the limits of the technology itself, rather than reality. To come anywhere close you'd need to be transmitting between two devices with a clear line of sight in a room with no other wireless data use.

It's possible, though, that the increase in speed could have a significant practical effect: eliminating the need for, or benefit of, wired cabling. Even if somebody's WiFi speed around their home was nowhere near the speed of their broadband connection, a four-fold increase could bring them much closer to getting the full benefit.

It also makes it very plausible that WiFi 7 connections could be as fast or faster than Ethernet cabling, removing the need to choose between speed and convenience in a home set-up.

Increased Reliability

Of course, high speeds are only useful if they are reliable - which is a major setback for wireless tech.

The technology in WiFi 7 is said to be specifically designed for a more stable connection, making streaming video more viable. There should also be a significant drop in latency, which is the delay between a device sending data and the transmission itself starting. That could help with playing games wirelessly (where response time is key) and also make wireless surround sound a more practical option.

The big drawback is that users will need new equipment to take full advantage and it may take time before the technology becomes commonplace in new devices. WiFi 78 routers are coming imminently, though few manufacturers have confirmed pricing. At least one manufacturer has made an adaptor that can be installed in existing PCs. And, some Smart TVs launching next year are expected to support the technology. (Source: xda-developers.com)

What's Your Opinion?

What difference would it make if your home WiFi was four times faster? Would you be prepared to pay more for faster WiFi devices? Are you fully wireless or do you still use cabling in your home setup?

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Dennis Faas's picture

What I would like to see is the ability to increase speed over existing CAT5e, which has been around since 2001. It is one of the most widely used ethernet cables in existence (especially behind walls in buildings) since the theoretical maximum speed for most home offices did not go beyond 1 gigabit until recently - even though CAT6+ has been around for almost as long.

The motherboard in my PC I have now does 2.5 Gigabit, but and I don't have the hardware to take advantage of it currently because it's still very expensive.

I can't imagine how much a switch and router for WiFi 7 is going to cost, especially if you're going to add multiple hard-wired access points in the house (which is how I have my house configured for maximum connection speeds). If you intend to make wireless bridges instead (which is how a wireless mesh works), every bridge point or "hop" will cut your WiFi speed in half due to latency.