Last year, Intel and Broadcom carried out the first cross-vendor Wi-Fi 7 cross-vendor demonstration, where an Intel-based laptop with Wi-Fi 7 connected to a Broadcom Wi-Fi 7 access point. And this summer, EnGenius Technologies launched what it claims to be the first cloud Wi-Fi 7 access points for the enterprise.
While the company (EnGenius) says it will have products available later this year, many in the industry are looking to 2024 as the year we will start seeing new standards-based and Wi-Fi Alliance-certified Wi-Fi 7 products hit the market. Even at that, given the time it takes to evaluate and purchase IT products, now might be the right time for enterprises to start looking at Wi-Fi 7.
Why the interest in Wi-Fi 7? After all, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E, which both brought improved performance and higher maximum throughputs, are relatively new to the market. Standards-based enterprise gear for each has only been widely available in the last several years.
The main appeal of Wi-Fi 7 is that many of the performance enhancements and other improvements that Wi-Fi 6 made available are simply greater with Wi-Fi 7.
What's driving the need for higher-performance Wi-Fi?
The amount of traffic being carried over Wi-Fi networks has roughly quadrupled in four years. In contrast, traffic over wired networks has only grown modestly during that same period.
There are more bandwidth-intensive applications in use by enterprise users all the time. A comment made during a recent Network Computing editorial webinar anecdotally bolstered this point. To wit, one of the participants noted in framing a question: "Before the pandemic, I would say 90% to 95% of my conference calls were dial-up phone calls. After the pandemic, I've not made a single phone call. Everything is Zoom, WebEx, and Teams meetings, no matter what, even if it could be done with a phone call. Is that what others are seeing?"