Broadcom exec: ‘Wi-Fi is a network technology. It’s not so much one device talking to another; it’s a group of devices talking to an access point’
When Broadcom conducted its Wi-Fi 7 demonstrations, it prioritized showcasing the technology’s capabilities in a way that didn’t sacrifice its real-world implications. Vijay Nagarajan, vice president of Broadcom’s Wireless Communications and Connectivity Division, further discussed why this approach was so important, as well as what to expect from a network powered by Wi-Fi 7.
“Primarily, Wi-Fi is a network technology,” explained Nagarajan. “It’s not so much one device talking to another; it’s a group of devices talking to an access point. We wanted to showcase the capabilities of the network.”
He added that running two separate demonstrations was the best way to do this, with the first one designed to show the best possible performance a user can get on a phone as this is most users’ primary mobile device. The real-world, over-the-air demonstration compared the performance from a Galaxy S10 equipped with Broadcom’s Wi-Fi 6 chip (the 4375), a Galaxy S21 Ultra equipped with the Wi-Fi 6E chip (the 4389), and finally, the new Wi-Fi 7 chip (the 4398). The GS10 achieved one Gbit/s over Wi-Fi 6 and the Galaxy S21 hit two Gbit/s. The Wi-Fi 7 set up, which makes use of 320 megahertz of bandwidth and 4K QAM higher modulation scheme, got all the way to five Gbit/s.
“That sends a very simple, speeds-and-feeds message,” Nagarajan summarized. “It’s an easy number to communicate to the customer and the consumer.”
The “real message,” he continued, was in the second demonstration, the network demo. “If you were able to exploit all the available bands in the unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi access, what would that look like for your network today? If you had a lot of devices and you had a router that was capable of supporting a 2.4 GHz channel, two 5 GHz channels — one upper and one lower — and one 6 GHz channel, what is it you’re going to see with your clients?” he posited.
The end-to-end Wi-Fi 7 set up, which sought to address this question, involved a quad band AP powered by the Wi-Fi 7 4916 processor, a 67263 radio operating in the 4×4 mode in the 6 GHz band, three 6726 4×4 radios for the 2.4 GHz, lower 5 GHz and upper 5 GHz bands. Each of these access links were talking to four separate Broadcom 4398 Wi-Fi 7 client chips, and by aggregating across all bands, the demo achieved an overall throughput of 10 Gbit/s over the air.
“There, what we tried to showcase is the maximum capabilities of a Wi-Fi 7 network. This is where the messaging is important. Each link really represents an aggregate of devices in that band. You can imagine a scenario where instead of one device talking in the 6 GHz band, you have 10 devices talking in the 6 GHz band, but the aggregate speed of these 10 devices would be around 5 Gbit/s,” Nagarajan stated.
Nagarajan concluded by pointing out that as broadband providers are beginning to offer 10 G service to the home, users need Wi-Fi that compliments it. “The power of Wi-Fi 7 is being able to bring this 10G broadband into your home and distribute it across your entire network. I think that is the single most important take away,” he said.