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Wi-Fi 7 is coming, what are the differences between Wi-Fi protocols?

MediaTek recently announced its flagship 5G mobile chip, the Dimensity 9200, which not only supports 5G networks, but also the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 wireless connectivity. (Technically speaking, the Dimensity 9200 is Wi-Fi 7 Ready)

So what’s the difference between the Wi-Fi protocols?

Wi-Fi protocols have been renamed
Currently, there are several mainstream WiFi protocols on the market: 802.11n, 802.11ac (wave1, wave2), and 802.11ax. This naming scheme is obviously difficult to understand for the layman.

However, in 2018, the WiFi Alliance officially designated the 802.11ax standard as the sixth generation of WiFi technology, and at the same time opened the era of simplified naming of WiFi protocols. This means that WiFi protocol names, which were previously more difficult for the layman to understand, will become more easily understood in a simplified version. Specifically.

  • 802.11n has become Wi-Fi 4
  • 802.11ac becomes Wi-Fi 5
  • 802.11ax becomes Wi-Fi 6

This naming scheme is easy to see for the layman, Wi-Fi 6 is a newer and more powerful protocol than Wi-Fi 5.

Wi-Fi 4
Released in 2009, 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) is a much-improved version of the Wi-Fi protocol compared to its predecessor (802.11g in 2003). Wi-Fi 4 is the first Wi-Fi technology to work in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and it has a transmission speed of 600Mbit/s.

When we configure our wireless router, we will see options for a 2.4G signal and 5G signal. 5G in Wi-Fi generally refers to the 5GHz band, not 5G (fifth generation mobile technology) as in many “5G phones”.

The difference between a 2.4G signal and a 5G signal is simply summarized as follows.

5G signals have many advantages, such as relatively few sources of interference and fast transmission rates.

5G signal “through the wall” ability really can not, “through the wall” or rely on 2.4G signal.

2.4G terminal equipment is cheaper, so for devices that do not require high transmission speed, 2.4G transmission is a more economical and practical option.

In terms of transmission speed, Wi-Fi 4 has a transmission speed of 600Mbit/s, which is equivalent to 600 Mbps or more commonly known as the equivalent of 600 megabits of broadband download speed. However, in terms of actual experience, Wi-Fi 4 is actually difficult to reach the speed of 600 megabits of broadband. On the one hand, because of the loss of wireless transmission, on the other hand, the use of Wi-Fi 4 protocol wireless routers will rarely be given to the “full”, so it can not reach the maximum speed.

Wi-Fi 5
802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) was released in 2013. It introduced a wider RF bandwidth (up to 160 MHz) and higher-order modulation (256-QAM) with transmission speeds of up to 1.73 Gbps, further increasing the Wi-Fi network throughput. In addition, the 802.11ac wave2 standard was released in 2015, bringing features such as beamforming and MU-MIMO to the mainstream and increasing system access capacity. However, it should be noted that 802.11ac only supports terminals in the 5GHz band, so this version of the Wi-Fi protocol does not make much sense for devices in the 2.4GHz band.

In short, this version of the Wi-Fi protocol further improves Wi-Fi transfer rates and optimizes the multi-user download experience (only the downlink is optimized, not the uplink).

Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 ax) achieves a 4x increase in network bandwidth and a 4x increase in concurrent users compared to Wi-Fi 5. And it can operate in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands.

Regarding network speed, the impact on the average home user is not significant. Currently, most cities have a 1000 megabit broadband limit, so Wi-Fi 5 is sufficient for gigabit broadband speeds.

Regarding the number of concurrent users, there is some role for home users, but not much. The main thing is in the use of smart home controllers. With the advent of the smart home era, there has been a steep rise in the number of network-connected terminals in the home. In the past, there may be only a few cell phones and computers at home connected to the network, but now the home lighting controller will be installed a dozen or even two dozen. But the smart home does not have to be Wi-Fi 6, now many smart home manufacturers have launched a “master controller” device. Many smart home controllers are connected to the “master controller” first, and then the “master controller” unified access to the network. This way, for the home wireless router, the direct access to the network is a master controller, rather than dozens and dozens of independent controllers. In this way, Wi-Fi 5 can also be competent.

But for enterprise users, the transmission rate increase and the number of concurrent users is of practical significance. Many enterprises have a real need for 10 gigabit networks or even higher specifications. And the amount of enterprise Wi-Fi access devices is much higher than that of home users. These needs Wi-Fi 5 are far from solving.

In addition to the Wi-Fi 6 protocol, there is also a Wi-Fi 6E protocol, which actually adds the 6GHz band to Wi-Fi 6, with less interference and faster speeds.

Wi-Fi 7
The development of 802.11be (Wi-Fi 7) is still in progress, but there are already some “early versions” of the device available.

The goal of the Wi-Fi 7 protocol is to increase the throughput rate of WLAN networks to 30Gbps and provide low-latency access. To meet this goal, the entire protocol has been changed accordingly at the PHY and MAC layers.

This kind of transmission rate may only be useful for home users for VR games or some future metaverse applications.

Conclusion
1. For most home users, if they are still using Wi-Fi 4 devices, they can consider upgrading to Wi-Fi 6. If they already have Wi-Fi 5 devices, they can not consider upgrading for now.

2. If the actual use of the terminal device does not exceed 100 megabytes, then there is no problem to continue using Wi-Fi 4.

3. the current Wi-Fi 7 devices are generally more expensive, and many of them are actually “neutered versions”, such as in the MIMO aspect. So if you want to buy a small partner can first wait.

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Threza Gabriel
Threza Gabrielhttps://www.techgoing.com
TechGoing is a global tech media to brings you the latest technology stories, including smartphones, electric vehicles, smart home devices, gaming, wearable gadgets, and all tech trending.
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