WiFi network
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“WiFi password please.” It’s a familiar refrain: The world of work and play today would be unbearable without WiFi.

We hear it said, or we say it ourselves (or a variation of it) — whenever we walk in to a restaurant/cafe, fly, check in at a hotel, or visit places where we don’t have cellular data (or scrimp on its usage).

And everybody wants a faster, better WiFi even in crowded environments. But it’s something we don’t always get.

Family of network protocols
WiFi (also Wi-Fi, wifi, wi-fi or wi fi), which stands for “wireless fidelity”, is a family of wireless network protocols based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, commonly used for local area networking (LAN) of devices and Internet access — allowing nearby digital devices to exchange data by radio waves.

Today, given the improvements in both hardware and software, newer phones come with better WiFi than older ones.

With new WiFi, is it time to upgrade, or wait?

Much had happened since WiFi was released in 1991, the first version known as 802.11. There were no standards then.

Today, the default WiFi standard on new phones is 802.11ac or 802.11ax — also known as WiFi 6 — which offers faster speeds and better performance  than the original standard.

Newer phones are fitted with the newest WiFi 7 chipset. Last year, the Chinese phonemaker released the Xiaomi 13 Pro, which features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 platform including FastConnect 7800, the latest WiFi 7 chipset. It was claimed as the first smartphone on the market with WiFi 7.

There are also software improvements, which include more advanced WiFi management algorithms, helping optimise signal strength and reduce interference.

Wifi 6 Wifi 7
Image Credit: Source: IEEE | Vijith Pulikkal | Gulf News

WiFi improvements

WiFi technology has advanced over the years. There are a number of ways in which it is anticipated to do so in the future.

The following are some potential directions for WiFi tech improvements:

#1. Faster speeds:

As the demand for high-speed internet continues to grow, WiFi technology is likely to improve to provide even faster speeds. This could be achieved through the development of new technologies such as WiGig, which operates on the 60GHz band and can provide speeds of up to 10 Gbps.

#2. Increased capacity:

With the increasing number of devices that require WiFi connectivity, there is a need to improve the capacity of WiFi networks to handle more traffic. This could be achieved through the use of technologies such as MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output), which allows multiple devices to be served simultaneously.

#3. Better coverage:

WiFi technology is also likely to be improved to provide better coverage, particularly in areas where traditional WiFi signals struggle to reach. This could be achieved through the development of technologies such as Li-Fi, which uses light waves to transmit data and can provide faster and more reliable connectivity.

WiFi Calling
WiFi Calling is a technology that allows users to make phone calls over a WiFi network instead of using the traditional cellular network. With calls made using WiFi Calling, your phone uses your internet connection to connect to your carrier's network, allowing you to make and receive calls in areas with poor or no cellular coverage, as long as you have access to a stable WiFi network.

WiFi Calling can be useful in areas with poor cellular coverage, such as basements, rural areas, and other places where cellular signals are weak or unavailable.

Additionally, using WiFi Calling may help you save money on international calls, as you can use your phone to make calls to other countries without incurring international calling fees.

WiFi Calling is only available on certain devices and carriers. You may need to enable it in your device's settings before you can use it.

#4. Improved security:

As cyber threats continue to evolve, WiFi technology is expected to be improved to provide better security. This could include the use of stronger encryption standards and the implementation of more advanced authentication methods.

Overall, WiFi technology is expected to continue to evolve and improve in the coming years, with a focus on providing faster speeds, better coverage, increased capacity, and improved security.

WiFi Assist
WiFi Assist is a feature that is available on some devices is designed to automatically switch between WiFi and cellular data when the WiFi connection is weak or unstable.

This feature is intended to provide a smoother and more reliable internet experience for users by automatically switching to a stronger data connection when necessary.
Hardware and software improvements on WiFi technology could usher in faster speeds, better signal strength and greatr range.

What's new with WiFi 7?

Intel and Broadcom, two of the world’s top chipmakers, have demonstrated the first cross-vendor WiFi 7 installation — they achieved over-the-air speeds of more than 5Gbps using an Intel-powered laptop and a Broadcom access point.

In September 2022, Intel unveiled its WiFi 7 technology delivering five times larger network capacity than WiFi 6E — 100 times better "worst case latency" (delay) and 15 times better latency for augmented and virtual reality devices.

WiFi 7 also includes "4K QAM" modulation, which allows for more effective use of the device's spectrum and simultaneous connections across different bands due to "multi-link operation" and increased channel utilisation efficiency.

This provides more flexibility in how the spectrum and bandwidth are used, which will help a wide range of use cases.

According to Intel, WiFi 7 will enable new applications such as augmented and virtual reality, ultra-high-definition 16K media streaming, and super-responsive and reliable gaming, while also supporting a large number of connected devices in the home or office.

WiFi 6E, the previous version, allowed for rates of up to 2Gbps. According to an Intel spokesperson, the new protocol will provide considerable latency (rate of delay) improvements and more advanced traffic management in WiFi 7 devices, which could greatly increase your experience as a user.

Is Ethernet better than WiFi?

Ethernet and WiFi are two different solutions for connecting devices to the internet, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Ethernet connections typically provide a more stable and reliable connection than WiFi, as Ethernet cables transmit data through a physical cable that is not subject to interference from other wireless devices.

Ethernet connections can also provide faster and more consistent internet speeds, which is especially important for tasks that require a lot of bandwidth, such as online gaming or video streaming. On the other hand, WiFi offers greater flexibility and convenience, as it allows devices to connect to the internet or network without the need for physical cables.

This makes WiFi ideal for devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. WiFi also eliminates the need for additional cables and connectors, which can help to reduce clutter and make setups more streamlined.

In general, Ethernet is a better option for applications that require a reliable and consistent connection while WiFi is suited for situations where flexibility and convenience are more important (mobile devices / home or office where run Ethernet cables is difficult). So depending on your needs and circumstances, the better solution may vary.

Should you get WiFi 7 phone now or wait?

Newer isn't always better. In general, newer phones may have better WiFi capabilities, though they may not always perform better than older models in all situations.

WiFi performance also depends on factors such as the quality of the WiFi network, the strength of the signal, and the number of devices connected to the network.