Qualcomm launches Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro series of 10Gbps routers
Qualcomm launches Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro series of 10Gbps routers

Several vendors have released Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) products in the past few months. Earlier this year, MediaTek brought 802.11be-compatible chips to the Filic lineup. Specific technical details and part numbers were not announced at this event. Last month, Broadcom demonstrated a comprehensive Wi-Fi 7 suite that includes several 802.11be access point radios, 802.11be-based networking SoCs, and mobile application radio clients.

The 802.11 working group for 802.11be focuses on extremely high throughput. This is mainly achieved by combining three different aspects:

Supports up to 16 spatial streams

  • Supports channel widths up to 320MHz (operating in the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands)
  • Support for 4096-QAM (4K-QAM) allows better use of available spectrum (faster modulation/encoding system).
  • It is important to note that the wider channels are only available in the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands.

In theory, these aspects enable a wireless transmission speed of about 46 Gbit/s. 802.11be was also developed to enable Wi-Fi for real-time applications by including low-latency communication features such as multi-link operation (MLO). This allows clients and access points to simultaneously communicate over multiple channels, which can belong to different domains.

The 802.11be specification also provides better performance in high-traffic environments by enabling adaptive pinhole - the desired channel does not have to be contiguous. This improves backbone functionality already provided as part of the 802.11ax specification.

Use Automatic Frequency Modulation (AFC) to manage interference and coexistence with non-Wi-Fi users in the same band. Unlike Open AFC, of ​​which Broadcom belongs, Qualcomm has chosen to offer its customers its end-to-end solution.

As expected, AFC requires the device proxy to be connected to the Internet for channel configuration and power mods.

At MWC 2022, Qualcomm presented details of 802.11be on silicon for mobile devices. The FastConnect 7800 is expected to be available in the second half of 2022, and includes support for Bluetooth 5.3 and key Wi-Fi 7 features. Today, the company is introducing the Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series access point platform, expanding its Wi-Fi 7 network.

Qualcomm began commercializing Networking Pro and FastConnect Wi-Fi solutions in 2019 with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6. So it's no wonder that today's 3G products focus on Wi-Fi 7.

The compelling entry of the Networking Pro logo helps configure the router/access point platform from the end user's perspective. Unlike Broadcom, which publicly publishes details of the underlying SoC and characteristics of various radio options for its reference designs, Qualcomm makes these details available only to its customers. Ultimately, these details will be revealed after the product goes on sale. Here, for example, the Networking Pro 800 platform is available - we see a simple WiSoC with an integrated MAC and baseband, along with a separate radio. So it's disappointing that Qualcomm didn't provide us with much analysis beyond key product specifications in today's announcement. These high-level feature specifications are consistent with those of Broadcom products announced last month.

Importantly, Qualcomm also offers an "immersive home" platform for entry-level Wi-Fi routers. They are generally similar to "Networking Pro" platforms apart from the number of bits, the low count capacity of the WiSoC, and the timing of the processor cores. Since Qualcomm declined to provide details on the number of CPU cores or frequencies for the Networking Pro Series released today, we'll have to wait for an official announcement of the cost-sensitive portion of the Wi-Fi 7 wallet.

The 3G Networking Pro family consists of four members, ranging from 6 on the Networking Pro 620 to 16 on the Networking Pro 1620. Optional radio bands are available for two or four streams of 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz.

Qualcomm claims a maximum system PHY rate of up to 33Gbps and a wireless PHY rate of more than 10Gbps per lane, which can support more than 500 users per lane.

The availability of 6 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi is not universal. Qualcomm has indicated that there may be different configurations for the Networking Pro 3rd Gen series, depending on the customization.

Qualcomm's Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series will allow its customers to create a wide range of premium enterprise-class wireless routers/access points. Platforms are already sampling — we should see BE10000, BE16000, BE21000 and BE33000 Wi-Fi routers based on them available in a few quarters.

5G-based fixed wireless access is fast becoming an attractive option for many consumers - sometimes even as a basic broadband connection. Qualcomm's strengths in 5G will serve as an asset from an assembly perspective for integrated Wi-Fi 7/5G platforms. However, Broadcom has a large presence with service providers for 10G PON and DOCSIS 4.0. These high-speed Internet providers are likely to find potential bundled offerings from Broadcom attractive to consumer portals that support Wi-Fi 7. We wait for Mediatek and MaxLinear (for whom Intel has sold their Home Gateway Platform division) to fully unveil their Wi-Fi 7 cards. However, it appears that the initial battle will be between products based on Qualcomm's 3rd Gen. Networking Pro and those using Broadcom Wi-Fi 7 wallet.

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