Learn how the wireless network evolved

MediaTek released the flagship 5G mobile chip Dimensity 9200 not so long ago. The latter not only supports 5G networks, but also the future WLAN connection Wi-Fi 7. It is therefore a Wi-Fi 7-capable chip. The average user has no idea the benefits of new technology. For example, how many of you know the differences between Wi-Fi 7 and the previous standards? To make this clear, we need to become familiar with a few terms.

What is Wi-Fi Protocol?

First, there are different Wi-Fi protocols. In this regard, Wi-Fi 7 has seen a major change in Wi-Fi protocol. We assume you are familiar with these protocols: 802.11n, 802.11ac (wave1, wave2), and 802.11ax. You have seen them many times even if you don’t know what they are. We know that an average user doesn’t know what those numbers and letters mean.

In 2018, the WiFi Alliance identified the 802.11ax standard as the sixth generation of WiFi technology. Also, naming WiFi protocols has become easier. In other words, they decided to make the Wi-Fi logs “readable” for average users:

  • 11n became Wi-Fi 4
  • 11ac became Wi-Fi 5
  • 11ax became Wi-Fi 6

So, if you look at the names of Wi-Fi protocols, users will recognize which one is fresher and theoretically better. We present the main specifications of the mentioned Wi-Fi protocols.

wifi 7

wifi 4

It was released in 2009. 802.11n (Wi-Fi 4) is a greatly improved version of the Wi-Fi protocol compared to the previous version (802.11g in 2003). Wi-Fi 4 is the first Wi-Fi technology to operate simultaneously in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. Its transmission speed reaches 600 Mbit/s.

5 GHz signals have many advantages and they relate to many aspects. This includes few sources of interference and fast transmission rates. But 2.4 GHz signals still “penetrate” walls better. 5 GHz signals have nothing to offer in this regard.

In contrast, 2.4 GHz devices are cheaper. Therefore, if you need routers or other devices that do not require high transmission speeds, you already know what to choose.

The transmission speed of Wi-Fi 4 reaches 600 Mbit/s (600 Mbit/s). In simpler terms, the download speed is 600 megabytes broadband. As you suspect, this is the theoretical speed. In reality, no Wi-Fi 4 device can achieve such results.

wifi 5

802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) was released in 2013. It introduced greater radio frequency bandwidth (up to 160 MHz) and higher-order modulation technology (256-QAM). At the same time, the transmission speed is up to 1.73 Gbps.

Later, in 2015, the 802.11ac wave2 standard was released. They made beamforming and MU-MIMO features more popular. We should note that 802.11ac only supports end devices in the 5 GHz band.

In other words, this version of the Wi-Fi protocol further improves the Wi-Fi transfer rate and offers faster download speeds for multiple users. Note that only the downlink is optimized and not the uplink.

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wifi 6

Compared to Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) achieves a 4x increase in network bandwidth and a 4x increase in user count. Besides, it can operate freely in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands.

In terms of network speed, the impact on average home users isn’t huge. Now the cap for home broadband in most cities is 1000 megabytes. Wi-Fi 5 is also enough to control the speed of gigabit broadband.

As for the number of concurrent users, it has some impact on home users, but not much. We think overall performance might just be degraded by the number of smart home controllers. The number of smart home devices is growing every day. Whereas in the past only a few smartphones and PCs were connected to the home network, today there are more than ten or even twenty light controls in the house. But the Smart Home does not necessarily need Wi-Fi 6.

In addition, many smart home devices connect to the so-called “master controller”. The latter then connects to the home network. In this case, the wireless router only “sees” a device that is directly connected to the network.

We cannot say the same of enterprise users. You need high transfer rates and there are many concurrent users. Many organizations have actual needs for 10 Gigabit networks or higher standard networks. And the number of devices connected to corporate Wi-Fi networks is much higher than that of home users. Wi-Fi 5 cannot meet these requirements.

In addition to the Wi-Fi 6 protocol, there is also a Wi-Fi 6E protocol. Wi-Fi 6E adds the 6 GHz frequency band based on Wi-Fi 6. The new frequency band has less interference and higher speed.

wifi 7

802.11be (Wi-Fi 7) is a work in progress. But some “early version” devices are already coming to market.

wifi 7

The goal of the Wi-Fi 7 protocol is to increase the throughput rate of the WiFi network to 30 Gbps (or even 40 Gbps) and provide low-latency access. To achieve this goal, the entire protocol has made changes in the PHY layer and the MAC layer. Due to many changes, this protocol supports more than 500 simultaneous users per channel and offers twice the download speed of Wi-Fi 6, which allows users to download a 25GB 4K Blu-ray movie in seconds.

It seems that the first users of this technology will be companies. For home users, this kind of transfer rate should only be necessary when playing VR games or using some Metaverse apps.


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