MediaTek has completed the world’s first live demonstration of Wi-Fi 7 for “important customers and industry collaborators,” opening the road for the wireless network technology to join standard consumer gear as early as next year.
The demos, according to Taiwan-based MediaTek, revealed Wi-Fi 7’s capacity to attain the maximum speed stipulated by IEEE 802.11be, the official name for the Wi-Fi 7 standard. The firm also emphasized its multi-link operation (MLO) technology. At the same time, MLO combines many channels on separate frequency bands at the same time, allowing network traffic to continue to flow fluidly even if the bands are crowded or interfered with. The term “Filogic” refers to MediaTek’s Wi-Fi 7 connectivity suite.
For the first time, “with the release of Wi-Fi 7, we will see Wi-Fi become a real wireline/Ethernet substitute for very high-bandwidth applications for the first time,” said Alan Hsu, corporate vice president and general manager of MediaTek’s Intelligent Connectivity firm. “MediaTek’s Wi-Fi 7 technology will serve as the foundation of the home, workplace, and industrial networks, enabling seamless access for everything from multi-player AR/VR apps to cloud gaming and 4K calls to 8K streaming and beyond.”
Faster broadband Internet access and more demanding applications like better quality video streaming and VR gaming are driving demand for Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, and shortly, Wi-Fi 7, “said Mario Morales, IDC’s group vice president, Semiconductors. “As service providers begin to deploy a broader spectrum of hotspots across these market segments, Wi-Fi 7’s advances in channel width, QAM, and new features such as multi-link operation (MLO) will make Wi-Fi 7 very appealing for devices such as flagship smartphones, PCs, consumer devices, and vertical industries such as retail and industrial.”
Because Wi-Fi 7 can use 320 MHz channels and supports 4K quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology, it is reported to give 2.4x faster rates than Wi-Fi 6, even with the same number of antennas.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi 7 may produce “at least 30” gigabits per second (Gbps) and should exceed that to reach 40Gbps, the same speed as Thunderbolt 3. According to ArsTechnica, Wi-Fi 6 has a maximum output speed of 9.6 GHz, whereas its predecessor, WiFi 5, has a maximum output speed of 3.5 GHz. Wi-Fi 6 is the marketing name for 802.11ax technology, which is supported by all iPhone 11 and later devices, as well as the latest iPad mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro, and all Apple-powered Macs.
Wi-Fi 6E is the next step up from Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6E devices run on a special 6E spectrum with up to seven extra 160MHz channels, whereas Wi-Fi 6 devices use the same spectrum as other Wi-Fi 4, 5, and 6 devices and operate on only two 160MHz channels. According to certain rumours, Apple’s iPhone 13 series will integrate Wi-Fi 6E, but the speculations were never confirmed. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, this year’s iPhone 14 is likely to support Wi-Fi 6E, and Apple’s next AR/VR headset is also expected to support it to satisfy the demands of the high-end, immersive experience it will provide.
MediaTek has been involved in the development of the Wi-Fi 7 standard since its inception and is eager to generate excitement for its Wi-Fi 7 Filogic connectivity portfolio, but the protocol has yet to be finalized by the Wi-Fi Alliance, making it difficult to predict when consumer devices will support it. According to MediaTek, Wi-Fi 7 devices are likely to enter the market in 2023. Regardless, considering that Apple has yet to implement Wi-Fi 6E in any of its products, Wi-Fi 7 support is likely to be sometime away.