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July 21, 2023
Estimated reading time - 5 min

Choosing the best version of Wi-Fi for a home broadband gateway makes it necessary to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each standard. Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6/ 6E and Wi-Fi 7 all offer unique advantages that can be suitable for different end-user situations and use cases.

Here are some factors to consider when making your choice:

  1. Usages:
    Subscribers’ usage play a critical role in choosing the right standard. Wi-Fi 5 is ideal for basic web browsing, email, and full HD streaming on one or two devices such as a set-top-box, a tablet or a mobile phone. Wi-Fi 6 is ideal for homes with multiple devices and multiple users, for more demanding applications such as gaming, video conferences, and 4K video streaming. By using the 6Ghz band, Wi-Fi 6E will improve this experience even more by avoiding any kind of interference from the multitude of older devices using previous versions of Wi-Fi. Last but not least, Wi-Fi 7 will be a better choice for users who need faster speeds, much lower latency and more efficient use of bandwidth for more demanding use cases such as VR/AR/metaverse experiences or 8K TV. Due to its much-improved performance, Wi-Fi 7 will also avoid running ethernet cables across the house which is a significant advantage for homeowners.
  2. Range and Coverage:
    The range and coverage of a home broadband gateway are essential factors to consider as well.
    Wi-Fi 5 will provide basic coverage, enough for small apartments or small homes with a single floor. It will have difficulty coping with multiple streaming devices at the same time, and due to the great number of devices using this standard in a home, it will be subjected to interference that can lower the signal quality and therefore the user experience. Wi-Fi 6 offers much better range and coverage than Wi-Fi 5. If you are targeting users who live in towns where the density of both devices and population is high, then Wi-Fi 6 is an ideal solution. It supports tens of devices simultaneously and offers faster speeds. In addition to these advantages, Wi-Fi 6E eliminates the congestion issue and accelerates speeds as it uses a third frequency range (6Ghz) only available for the newest Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices. Wi-Fi 7 will be the optimum choice in terms of range and coverage efficiency. This is mainly due to EFC – Enhanced Frequency Correction – which is a new feature introduced in Wi-Fi 7 that improves the standard’s throughput speeds. EFC is a significant improvement over previous Wi-Fi standards because it reduces the number of retransmissions, which can significantly impact network performance. By correcting frequency errors in real-time, EFC ensures that data is transmitted more efficiently, which results in faster throughput speeds and better overall network performance.
  1. Device Compatibility and Future-proofing:
    Both the future of technology and the evolution of compatible devices on the market are key factors to consider when selecting a Wi-Fi standard for your home gateway. Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are now the standard offer for new electronic equipment released on the market today. This is very important because it is at the root of the promise you make to your subscribers who can really benefit from its advantages. According to a study by TrendForce, in 2022 42% of client devices were using Wi-Fi 5 vs 58% using Wi-Fi 6/6E. This represents a great advantage compared to Wi-Fi 7, which is just starting to be integrated into the new generation of home gateways. It will take 1 or 2 more years to see Wi-Fi 7 certified devices on the shelves of retail stores, so it will take time for it to become commonplace. However, if you are planning for long-term growth, future-proofing and to answering your subscribers’ expectations for the latest and greatest norm, then Wi-Fi 7 may be an interesting option to add to your product offering as a premium solution.
  2. Cost:
    Cost is certainly the most critical and strategic factor for an operator when deciding on the right home broadband gateway Wi-Fi standard. While Wi-Fi 5 is the most affordable option, Wi-Fi 6/6E and 6E can be competitive when combined with the right antenna design. On the whole, Wi-Fi 7 is more powerful, uses new and more powerful radios and 3 new front-end modules (FEMs) compared to Wi-Fi 6. Its design is different, and this means new investments in factory test equipment, processes and manpower. Its price is naturally higher but, because all new home gateways will be implementing Wi-Fi 7, even with its much-improved performance and capabilities this solution may soon be more cost-efficient, in some cases, perhaps even cheaper than Wi-Fi 6.

In summary, choosing between a Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, 6E, and Wi-Fi 7 home broadband gateway depends on several factors, including bandwidth requirements, device compatibility, the number of devices, frequency bands, and budget. While Wi-Fi 5 can be a good solution for a budget priced offering targeting users with low needs, today the best option to consider for an operator’s mainstream business is still a Wi-Fi 6 or 6E solution. It is readily available and proven, with a good and improving installed base of compatible devices. Still, operators wanting to lead their market and to satisfy subscribers who are sensitive to the latest norm must consider Wi-Fi 7 as a premium solution, at an extra monthly fee, in addition to a broader and more mainstream offering.

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