Both on smartphones and in living rooms, the audio & video streaming revolution is producing an insatiable demand for speed and bandwidth. To satisfy this demand, in the early 2010s, we had the Wi-Fi 5. However, this lasted only for a decade or so, because by then, consumers had bidirectional video applications such as Webex, WhatsApp, and other social media uploads like TikTok. These had begun to alter not only the consumer landscape but also that of the enterprise.
That led to the catapulting of Wi-Fi 6 to the arena for better management of the huge traffic of streamlining wireless transmissions. This was followed by Wi-Fi 6E which literally extended the benefits of its predecessor with the availability of the 6 GHz band. The pandemic of Covid-19 in 2020 was the moment for Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, as is evident from the 1+ billion chips of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E that Broadcom shipped in the past three years.
And still, the demand for higher bandwidth and speed continues only to increase. A recent study has shown that consumer spending on games has increased by 40%. This involves not only devices operating at higher speed, but also the use of newer technology like AR or augmented reality and VR or virtual reaility headsets as new gaming devices. While these devices demand unprecedented levels of immersion while playing, they also call for deterministic and reliable wireless data.
So, we are now moving towards Wi-Fi 7. It has the ability to incorporate 320-MHz channels into the 6 GHz band and employ the 4096-QAM modulation technique, thereby effectively doubling the channel bandwidth. Additionally, it employs better technologies for lowering latency and bolstering determinism. These include AFC or automatic frequency coordination and MLO or multi-link operation.
Wi-Fi 7 comes with spectrum flexibility spanning three bands. However, the critical role is played by the incorporation of 320 MHz channels into the 6GHz band for doubling the speed. For boosting the coverage and the overall network performance, there is the 4096-QAM technique that plays a crucial role.
Wi-Fi 7 can rapidly aggregate channels in congested, high-density networks. This is due to its MLO or multi-link operation that significantly improves its deterministic performance. By rapidly switching traffic among several channels, Wi-Fi 7 can drive greater capacity, thereby facilitating commercial-grade QoS or quality of service in its networks.
Another technology that Wi-Fi 7 utilizes is AFC or automatic frequency coordination. This technique allocates optimum spectrum, thereby enabling high-power access points and extending the 6 GHz range outdoors and indoors. According to Broadcom, its Wi-Fi 7 designs with AFC are capable of 63 times greater transmitting power. This helps not only to extend the range but also the coverage of the 6 GHz band in use.
Therefore, with its immense focus on speed, latency, and determinism, Wi-Fi 7 has entered our lives and is here to stay. According to the forecast of industry technology analysts, revenue from Wi-Fi 7 will supersede that from any other Wi-Fi technology so far in the next five years.