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Intel could give us Wi-Fi 7 devices long before Apple gets around to it

Wi-Fi 7 may not exist in devices today, but that isn’t stopping Intel from forging ahead with it. Intel is planning to introduce Wi-Fi 7 sometime in 2024 just as Apple turns to Wi-Fi 6E for its upcoming devices. Intel will be doubling down on Wi-Fi 7 development efforts over the coming year, according to Eric McLaughlin, Intel’s vice-president of wireless solutions.

“We are currently developing Intel’s Wi-Fi ‘802.11be’ in order to obtain the ‘Wi-Fi Alliance’ certification, and it will be installed in PC products such as laptops by 2024,” McLaughlin said in a press conference earlier today. “We expect it to appear in major markets in 2025.”

The interior of the Surface Laptop Studio.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The newest and fastest Wi-Fi available right now is Wi-Fi 6E. It supports the 6GHz spectrum, which allows a ton more bandwidth over previous Wi-Fi 6. It quadruples the number of airwaves available and increases speed to 2.6GBps from 2GBps available on Wi-Fi 6. The technology was recently rolled out in late 2020 after a year of development and FCC approval in the United States. Apple has embraced Wi-Fi 6E for its upcoming devices, such as the iPhone 14.

But Wi-Fi 7 is an entirely different beast. Intel claims Wi-Fi 7 will stabilize 6GHz bandwidth while providing 5.8Gbps speeds. That’s blazing fast and more than double what’s available with Wi-Fi 6E. Furthermore, Wi-Fi 7 is future-proof as it will be ready to embrace an increase in bandwidth up to 7GHz, if and when the FCC opens it up in a few years.

“Wi-Fi 7 almost doubles the frequency bandwidth of 802.11ax (170 MHz) to 320 MHz and doubles the speed of Wi-Fi,” McLaughlin told reporters. “Since there is more than a year left before the release of 802.11be, there is still a chance that we could improve the processing speed even further.”

For context, the average Wi-Fi speed in the U.S. in 2021, when connected to 1GBps broadband internet, was less than 20MBps. Most Wi-Fi routers and receivers utilize less than 50% of their capabilities for various reasons, such as multiple users on the same network, firewalls, and other bottlenecks. So, households and offices with high-speed internet connections are probably not getting the full speeds they are paying for due to Wi-Fi constraints.

Intel hopes to change that with Wi-Fi 7. High speed Wi-Fi can take advantage of high-speed internet and improves gaming, media streaming, video calls, and overall data processing speeds.

Qualcomm was the first company to talk about its plans for Wi-Fi 7 support earlier this year.

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Nathan Drescher
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nathan Drescher is a freelance journalist and writer from Ottawa, Canada. He's been writing about technology from around the…
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