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IEEE 802.11be Extremely High Throughput (EHT), a.k.a. Wi-Fi 7

We have been writing about Wi-Fi for a long time, weather it's to do with indoor connectivity, competition with 5G or just a name change to something simpler. When we last wrote about WiFi 6, a.k.a. 802.11ax, we were expecting a quick adoption of the technology in the industry. We are still not there yet. 

Take for instance the new iPhone 12 supports Wi-Fi 6 in all their models as one would expect but none of the new Google Pixel phones (4a, 4a 5G and 5) support it. In fact none of the new Google devices support it. Which is rather bizarre.


While we are still looking forward to Wi-Fi 6 becoming widespread, IEEE has already started working on the successor of 802.11ax, 802.11be - Standard for Information technology--Telecommunications and information exchange between systems Local and metropolitan area networks--Specific requirements - Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications Amendment: Enhancements for Extremely High Throughput (EHT).

The best place to start is this open access IEEE paper here. The abstract provides a good summary:

At the very first sight, the new IEEE 802.11be amendment to the Wi-Fi standard is nothing but scaled 11ax with doubled bandwidth and the increased number of spatial streams, which together provide data rates as high as 40 Gbps. A bit deeper dive into the 802.11 activities reveals that 11be will support real-time applications. In reality, 11be introduces many more revolutionary changes to Wi-Fi, which will form a basement for further Wi-Fi evolution. Although by now (May 2020), the development process is at the very early phase without any draft specification, the analysis of the discussion in the 802.11 Working Group gives insights into the main innovations of 11be. In addition to the ones above, they include native multi-link operation, channel sounding optimization that opens the door for massive MIMO, advanced PHY and MAC techniques, the cooperation of various access points. The paper analyzes hundreds of features proposed for the new technology, focusing on the open problems that can be solved by the researchers who want to contribute to the development of 802.11be.

Senza Fili has also recently published a technical brief on "Wi-Fi 7: The next generation in the evolution of Wi-Fi" on behalf of Intel. It's available here.

For more technical minded people, here is a technical paper that looks at candidate technical features including 320 MHz bandwidth and more efficient utilisation of non-contiguous spectrum,  Multi-band/multi-channel aggregation and operation, 16 spatial streams and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) protocol enhancements and Multi-access point coordination, Enhanced link adaptation and retransmission protocol.

Finally a technical video looking at how Wi-Fi 7 will co-exist with Wi-Fi 6 in 6 GHz spectrum.

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