HomeNetworkingFeaturesHow WiFi 7 achieves a faster data rate with 4K QAM

How WiFi 7 achieves a faster data rate with 4K QAM

With both WiFi 7 routers and WiFi 7 devices now available, you might well be wondering what the latest wireless standard has to offer for your home or business. Here’s the short and simple answer: WiFi 7 is faster. Offering a suite of new technologies, WiFi 7 is poised to empower new wireless experiences and change the way that you live, work and play. One of those technologies is called 4096 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, or 4K QAM for short. Here’s how it works.

Pack it in, pack it in

The key word for 4K QAM is efficiency. With it, WiFi 7 packs more data into the same amount of spectrum, allowing for high-density data transmission.

Quadrature Amplitude Modulation itself isn’t new. It’s the name for a group of digital modulation methods used extensively in the 802.11 WiFi standard for converting digital data packets into an analog signal. QAM varies the phase and amplitude of radio waves to consolidate more data into each transmission.

An infographic showing that with 4K QAM, WiFi 7 can offer 12 bits/symbol. In comparison, WiFi 6 can only offer 10 bits/symbol.

What’s new is that 4K QAM takes the tech to new heights. You can visualize QAM as a set of constellation points arranged in a square grid. Since digital telecommunications data is basically always binary, the number of points in the grid is typically a power of 2. A higher-order constellation – say, 256 QAM – is capable of transmitting more bits per symbol than a lower-order constellation such as 64 QAM. WiFi 6 maxed out at 1024 QAM, or 10 bits per symbol.

Next-gen WiFi 7, on the other hand, can achieve an even higher spectral efficiency through 4K QAM. With 12 bits per symbol rather than 10, it delivers a 20% data rate increase. That means that with WiFi 7, even more data is compressed into the limited bandwidth available.

For an analogy, think about a delivery truck hauling apples from a local orchard to the distribution center. One way to speed up the process of delivering an entire harvest’s worth of fruit – aside, of course, from having the drivers shamelessly flout the local speed limit laws – is to fit more fruit into each truck. 4K QAM is like reducing the size of the packaging necessary for each box of apples. Using trucks with the same cargo hold size, but with the fruit packed in more efficiently thanks to the new packaging, the farm can transport more apples in each delivery – and the entire harvest gets delivered much more quickly as a result.

What 4K QAM means for you

With 4K QAM, more data can be transferred with each transmission between your router and your connected devices. For your home network, that could mean faster wireless connections between your PC and your network-attached storage – and that could also mean that you have data transfer speeds ready to take advantage of a multi-gigabit internet connection. Additionally, the increased efficiency of WiFi 7 means that it’s better than ever at managing a busy network with many connected devices.

With all the advances of WiFi 7, not just 4K QAM, you can expect ultra-fast throughput, reduced latency, extended range and much higher reliability. These capabilities lay the foundation for emerging applications like flawless 16K video streaming, real-time collaboration, wireless gaming without lag, and immersive augmented and virtual reality.

4K QAM is just one of the many features debuting with WiFi 7. Click here to learn more about what’s new with WiFi 7.


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