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The Wi-Fi industry expects to have commercial availability of equipment supporting the next-generation Wi-Fi standard Wi-Fi 7 in 2025, according to the latest annual report from Wi-Fi industry group Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA).

Standards bodies already have made considerable progress on Wi-Fi 7, which is expected to support speeds as high as 30 Gbps with longer range, lower latency and fewer traffic congestion problems, explains the WBA report, authored by wireless infrastructure analyst firm Maravedis.

Initial work is taking place in the IEEE in the form of the 802.11be extremely high throughput (EHT) standard. Work is focused on reducing latency and increasing reliability to improve the quality of experience for real-time applications. When the standard is certified, it will then be designated as Wi-Fi 7, the WBA report explains.

Wi-Fi 7 Roadmap

In comparison with Wi-Fi 6, which used MU-MIMO and eight antennas, Wi-Fi 7 will handle 16 antennas, “opening the door” for coordinated MU-MIMO (CMU-MIMO), potentially enabling access points to have a tighter coordination beyond just roaming.

Other expected elements of the Wi-Fi 7 standard:

  • 320 MHz channels
  • 4096 QAM
  • 16 spatial streams
  • Multi-band/link multi-channel aggregation and operation
  • Multi-access point coordination aimed at reducing overlapping basic service sets and minimizing over-the-air collisions
  • Enhanced QOS management

Capabilities such as these are designed to support applications such as virtual reality, industrial connectivity, 8K video and online gaming.

Approval by the IEEE 802.11 working group and board is expected by May 2024, enabling Wi-Fi 7 devices to be commercially available beginning in 2025.

The WBA report cautions, however, that standards bodies have not made much progress on resolving issues related to Wi-Fi 7 coexistence with 3GPP cellular technologies in the same unlicensed frequency bands.

The 3GPP cellular technologies include licensed assisted access (LAA), which cellular network operators can use in combination with licensed spectrum to increase network capacity, and NR-U/MulteFire, which has a similar goal but does not involve piggybacking on licensed spectrum.

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