Explain It Like I'm Five: Wi-Fi 7

Wait, there’s a new Wi-Fi?

Kind of! Wi-Fi 7 is a new technical standard for wireless internet, promising faster speeds and more stable connections. The technology has been around for a year or so, but now the Wi-FI Alliance has made sure it works properly and doesn’t interfere with other transmissions.

How much faster are we talking?

Theoretically, it can hit 46Gbps, but under typical conditions, it’s going to be somewhere between 4Gbps and 10Gbps. By comparison, Wi-Fi 6 had a theoretical maximum of 9.6Gbps (1Gbps in typical situations).

So I could download a 4K version of Oppenheimer in under a minute?

Maybe, but probably not. Wi-Fi standards aren’t built to make one device as fast as possible — they ensure stable connections on multiple devices at once. In Wi-Fi 7’s case, it moves between three different frequencies (like tuning in to different radio stations) based on what a device needs. Only the 6Ghz frequency can get those super-fast speeds.

Why is it so much faster?

Wi-Fi 6 was also able to use 6Ghz, but Wi-Fi 7 can do it at 320Mhz bandwidth, essentially using a bigger tube to transmit more data. It also has a trick called Multi-Link Operation, which downloads on multiple frequencies at once, offering more speed when it can but having a connection to fall back on if the network gets overloaded.

Do I need internet that fast?

Keep in mind that you rarely have one thing using the Wi-Fi at a time. Multiple people in a household are often doing data-intensive tasks like streaming, gaming, and video calls simultaneously, and you could be adding mixed reality headsets to the mix if those take off.

It’s also good for smart home tech, which can get sluggish when your router is dealing with requests from multiple devices. Wi-Fi 7 can transmit to more devices at once and crams more into one signal wave, meaning devices don’t have to “wait in line” for their data.

What do I need to get Wi-Fi 7?

The router and the device connecting it need to be Wi-Fi 7 compatible, and you will start seeing a little symbol on products assuring you it meets the qualifications. However, the speed also depends on your internet service provider — top-of-the-line plans from Rogers and Bell claim 8Gbps download speeds, but others top out between 2.5Gbps to 50Mbps.