It took less than three years for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) one of the latest generation Wi-Fi technologies to go mainstream across smartphones, tablets, PCs, routers, and gateways. The pandemic has been a catalyst to drive even stronger demand for Wi-Fi 6 which saw rapid adoption despite chipset supply crunch being an inhibitor. Billions of devices across infrastructure and personal use are now Wi-Fi 6, whereas Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz) capable devices are also growing rapidly.
While Wi-Fi 6 is about to go mass-market in the near to mid-term, the industry is already warming up for the commercialization of Wi-Fi 7 solutions later this year. Wi-Fi 7 or IEEE 802.11be, enables an even higher throughput for wireless networks that use 5GHz and 6GHz frequency bands to maximize the overall capacity. It also decreases the latency and improves speeds for sophisticated scenarios such as XR, 8K streaming, gaming, Cloud computing, Virtual Work, intense bandwidth scenarios as well as mission critical and industrial applications.
Qualcomm Technologies, one of the leading end-to-end wireless connectivity solutions providers, recently announced and showcased the industry’s first Wi-Fi 7 system solution – FastConnect 7800. FastConnect 7800 aims to push the boundaries of wireless connectivity with advanced innovative features to match peak performance and complement the high-speed 5G cellular networks.
- Qualcomm’s FastConnect 7800 is a system-level solution featuring 4-stream High Band Simultaneous (HBS) Multi-Link Operations (MLO), Dual Bluetooth (BT 5.3), advanced audio (Snapdragon Sound, LE Audio, aptX Lossless tech, Qualcomm TrueWireless) and a plethora of other new innovations. FastConnect 7800, which is built on the 14nm process node, allows Qualcomm to optimize the connectivity subsystem to deliver peak data speeds in excess of 5.8Gbps, and sub-2ms latencies with relatively better power efficiencies.
- The FastConnect 7800 features triband support in terms of 6GHz, 5GHz, and 2.4GHz spectrum, thus maximizing the available channel bandwidth to boost capacity and coverage. The key Wi-Fi 7 feature is the 4096-QAM modulation in 320MHz channel bandwidth (single channel or 160MHz + 160MHz) of High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link Operation (MLO) with 5 and 6GHz connections which helps in achieving multi-gigabit performance and peak speeds of up to 5.8Gbps.
- When 6GHz is unavailable, using multiple links of 240MHz of 5GHz spectrum, the system can achieve up to 4.3Gbps throughputs. Simultaneous Multi-Link which makes use of 5GHz and 6GHz bands simultaneously frees the 2.4GHz spectrum that can be used for Bluetooth and IoT Devices, making spectrum management very efficient.
- The FastConnect 7800 also features a Comprehensive Multi-Link which uses two Wi-Fi radios to create a single synchronized link between multiple bands. In doing so, Qualcomm can reduce the overall latency and boost the throughput.
- Further, features such as Preamble-Puncturing allow the access point to transmit data on a “punctured” 80MHz or 160MHz channel in high-density or congested scenarios where the secondary 20 MHz channel is busy. The feature allows bonding of the non-contiguous available channels other than the busy secondary channel, thereby preventing the bandwidth from being halved and boosting capacity.
- Meanwhile, the FastConnect 7800 also brings along Bluetooth 5.3 and advanced Dual Bluetooth features that are great additions for reliable, and consistent long-range connections. Enhanced handoff and continuity feature provides the users with a seamless switching experience when swapping devices. Smart antenna switching dynamically selects the best of the two links to reduce the interference or drop in audio quality.
- Dual Bluetooth also enables broadcast and audio sharing features for audiophiles. Multi-stream audio support for True Wireless Earbuds (TWS) facilitates for an immersive audio experience. Qualcomm also indicates power savings of up to 30-50% for extended audio sessions, whether you are a globetrotter or an explorer. aptX Lossless, aptX Adaptive with advanced modulation & code optimizations promise to present the user with splendid voice quality, crystal clear audio clarity, and a redefined premium audio experience.
- For gamers, FastConnect 7800 brings along a low latency gaming mode where speech is required to communicate with fellow players, and a reduction in latency enables the player to have an edge, which is essential for online multi-player gaming scenarios.
- Wi-Fi 7 should be able to build alongside 5G, which promises to provide a consistent premium experience of higher capacity, multi-Gigabit throughputs, and lower latencies required for applications such as Cloud Gaming, Extended Reality (XR), 4K video streaming, and uploads, among others.
- Qualcomm’s FastConnect 7800 brings a complete system-level premium personal area network (PAN) connectivity experience for users to enjoy advanced use-cases in flagship devices by the end of 2022.
- The key features in the FastConnect 7800 such as High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link Operation (MLO), Preamble-Puncturing, Comprehensive Multi-Link, Low-Latency gaming Mode, Intelligent Dual-Bluetooth are the foundation for unlocking the immersive experiences which warrant higher throughputs, capacity, and lower latency.
- We would love to see what Qualcomm has in store for the infrastructure (retail routers, enterprise gateways) to drive Wi-Fi 7 penetration beyond endpoint devices this year.