The new 802.11be is being developed as a successor 802.11ax which is the current standard. 802.11be is expected to be more than double the effective throughput of 802.11ax. 802.11be is dubbed WiFi 7 which is an oversimplification. The 802.11 working group estimates the standard will be complet and ratified in 2024.
- 320 MHz bandwidth and more efficient utilization of non-contiguous spectrum,
- Multi-band/multi-channel aggregation and operation,
- 16 spatial streams and Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) protocols enhancements,
- Multi-Access Point (AP) Coordination (e.g. coordinated and joint transmission),
- Enhanced link adaptation and retransmission protocol (e.g. Hybrid Automatic Repeat Request (HARQ)),
- If needed, adaptation to regulatory rules specific to 6 GHz spectrum,
- Integrating Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) extensions for low-latency real-time traffic
The need for 320 MHz channels is driven by faster internet speeds seen with DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0 cable internet. Fiber to the home is very slow and focused mostly on new higher end housing developments.
802.11be will expand on the 6 GHz band that is originally addended to 802.11ax when the regulators allowed the working group to support it.
- Newly introduced 4096-QAM (4K-QAM)
- Contiguous and non-contiguous 320/160+160 MHz and 240/160+80 MHz bandwidth
- Frame formats with improved forward-compatibility
- Enhanced resource allocation in OFDMA
- Optimized channel sounding that requires less airtime
- Implicit channel sounding
- More flexible preamble puncturing scheme
- Support of direct links, managed by an access point
Much of the changes are designed around faster logic to handle the complex signalling required. Now that Intel has their 10nm line working fine, the move to 802.11be can be ready probably in 2022.
Currently the 5 GHz channels are carved up in 20 MHz blocks, Two 20 MHz channels are used for a 40 MHz channel. Two 40 MHz channels are used to make an 80 MHz channel. Two 80 MHz channels are used to make a 160 MHz channel. Currently 6 GHz channels are carved up similarly to the way 5 GHz is allocated,
The goal of a larger 320 MHz channel can be made from two 160 MHz channels. It can also make from one 160 MHz channel and a pair of 80 MHz channels, The 802.11be is being designed to use non contiguous channels which will allow better channel allocation while minimizing interference,
Access points today are still largely using 802.11n with a growing number of 802.11ac and adoption of 802.11ax has been very slow. A lot of older hardware is not complaint with the old standards such as not supporting all of the available channels etc. The HiTron CGNM-2250 is a first generation 802.11ac access point and it not compliant with any standards known. Small wonder Intel AX200 and AX210 WiFi cards perform so poorly.