While streaming your favorite show, video chatting, or working from your home office, you probably aren’t thinking about what version of WiFi you’re using—as long as it’s dependable and fast. But if you like to keep up with the latest technology, listen up because a new WiFi version is on its way. It’s called WiFi 7.
So, what is WiFi 7, and how can it help you make the most of your home internet connection? More importantly, will your devices be compatible with WiFi 7?
WiFi 7: the lowdown
WiFi standards often go by several names. You may see the WiFi 7 standard referred to as 802.11be, the official name given by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). But most of us call it WiFi 7 since it’s the seventh major generation of WiFi technology. You may also hear it referred to as EHT (Extremely High Throughput) wireless.
A standout benefit of the new WiFi 7 standard is that it’s capable of much faster speeds—as much as 4X faster than the maximum speeds achievable with WiFi 6. This increase in speed is achieved by implementing specific adaptive features that also make it more efficient. Older standards had to choose a frequency to transmit a particular device’s data. However, a WiFi 7 router connected to a compatible device can spread that single connection across multiple frequency bands. Like the previous standard, the WiFi 7 frequency bands will be 2.4, 5, and 6 GHz.
The new standard uses innovative techniques to improve internet traffic flow when sharing a connection. Examples include a smart home with many devices or an apartment building with a network for residents.
What the next WiFi standard means for you
WiFi 7 promises to deliver faster, more efficient, and dependable WiFi connections. But, like a teaser trailer for the next blockbuster movie, you may have to wait a while to check it out. The reason for the delay is that your WiFi router and connected device need to support the WiFi 7 standard to use its new features.
You don’t have to put off getting a WiFi 7 router if you want to upgrade. WiFi 7 routers may be the future of WiFi, but they’ll also work perfectly with your current devices. When you eventually add new devices that support the WiFi 7 standard—such as replacing your cellphone or computer—a compatible, next-generation WiFi router will increase your WiFi 7 speed and efficiency.
Checking WiFi versions on your devices
You may be wondering what WiFi version your current devices support. You can check this by going to your system settings and looking at the hardware (such as the “Network Adapters” section of “Device Manager” on Windows).
Many mobile devices don’t make this information easily accessible. If that’s the case, search for “(your device model) WiFi standards” to determine what standards are supported. You can also find this information for your specific mobile device by entering its IMEI (a unique identifier number usually visible in the “about phone/device” section of your Settings app). Go to IMEI.info to see all the technical specifications of your phone or tablet.
WiFi 7 speeds and internet connections
While internet speeds keep getting faster, they’re limited by the slowest device in your setup. That means those super-fast speeds won’t make it to your device if you have a blazing-fast internet service but an outdated router or modem.
The same goes for outdated phones and laptops. The latest WiFi 7 router won’t increase your speed if your device is six years (and two WiFi standards) old or your internet service is slow. You need the latest technological standard throughout your network to get the best connection. Current devices and a high-speed fiber internet connection will prepare you for WiFi 7 when it drops in your area.
What’s the expected WiFi 7 release date?
While some WiFi 7 routers may release in 2023, it will likely be early 2024 before the standard gets more widely adopted in a finalized form.