UPDATED 16:29 EDT / JANUARY 08 2024


Alliance begins certifying devices that support the Wi-Fi 7 wireless standard

The Wi-Fi Alliance has begun certifying devices that support Wi-Fi 7, the latest iteration of the ubiquitous wireless networking standard.

The group announced the move today at the CES 2024 consumer electronics event in Las Vegas. The launch of the certification program marks a notable milestone in the industry’s rollout of Wi-Fi 7, which promises to significantly speed up wireless connections. The technology will become available on handsets, personal computers, routers and a range of other devices. 

“The introduction of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 7 marks the emergence of the latest generation of Wi-Fi and will be an accelerant to mass adoption of Wi-Fi 7,” said Wi-Fi Alliance Chief Executive Officer Kevin Robinson. 

The Wi-Fi Alliance is an industry consortium backed by major chipmakers and dozens of other tech companies. One of its responsibilities is helping wireless device makers ensure that their products provide reliable connectivity. If a device implements the Wi-Fi standard correctly, it can become eligible for a certificate from the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Wi-Fi 7, the latest version of the networking standard, promises to enhance wireless connections significantly. The technology’s previous iteration allowed devices to transmit data at a rate of up to 10 gigabits per second. Wi-Fi 7 quadruples the maximum supported throughput to 40 gigabits per second and also promises to reduce latency.

One of the main contributors to Wi-Fi 7’s performance is a feature called MLO, or multilink operations. It allows wireless devices to more efficiently use the sections of the radio spectrum at their disposal. 

A given radio frequency or set of frequencies over which a Wi-Fi device transmits data is known as a channel. The more channels a device supports, the more bandwidth it provides. For example, a router that transmits data over three frequencies can theoretically provide three times as much bandwidth as a single-frequency device. That translates into faster download speeds for users. 

The MLO feature in Wi-Fi 7 allows devices to spread a wireless connection across more frequency sets, or channels, than was possible before and thereby speed up downloads. Moreover, the technology makes network links more reliable in the process. If one of the frequencies a device uses to power a wireless connection experiences interference, data can still be sent over the remaining frequencies.

Wi-Fi 7 also introduces other improvements. One of the most significant upgrades was made to the standard’s modulation algorithm, which it uses to encode data into radio waves. Wi-Fi 7 features a new modulation algorithm called 4K QAM that is capable of processing data 20% faster than the previous software. 

To date, a half-dozen hardware makers have signed up to receive Wi-Fi 7 certifications from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The group includes Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc., Broadcom Inc., Ruckus Networks Inc., MediaTek Inc. and MaxLinear, Inc. Though the Wi-Fi Alliance formally launched its certification program today, several of the initial participants have already introduced products that feature Wi-Fi 7 support.

The consortium estimates that 233 million devices with Wi-Fi 7 compatibility will ship this year. By 2028, that number is expected to grow nearly tenfold to 2.1 billion. 

 Photo: Unsplash

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