The evolving transformation catalyst

In the crossfire over India’s 6GHz spectrum, Wi-Fi 7 is fast emerging as the promising solution to break free from connectivity disputes.

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Wireless technology

Wireless Technology

In the crossfire over India’s 6GHz spectrum, Wi-Fi 7 is fast emerging as the promising solution to break free from connectivity disputes.


As networking speeds and standards continue to evolve, one crucial aspect of it lies in how Wi-Fi technology is presented across the world. With nearly one billion users connecting to the internet, Wi-Fi hotspots have often been seen in India as a viable solution to offering connectivity in even the remotest of regions. However, no technology in India’s multi-billion-dollar networking industry comes without conflicts—and Wi-Fi 7, the latest standard in wireless internet connectivity, is one of the newest and fewer spoken ones.

Wi-Fi 7 promises far more stable network connections, which means devices will remain connected steadily, without interruptions and connectivity drops.

Why Wi-Fi 7?


Developed by IEEE, the standardisation body that creates frameworks for the latest standards of Wi-Fi connectivity, since as early as 2019, Wi-Fi 7 has been promised as a messiah of sorts for the global wireless connectivity industry. It is compatible backward to begin with, which means that all existing older devices will remain compatible with Wi-Fi 7 when it becomes ubiquitous globally. As such, the present standard of Wi-Fi stands at Wi-Fi 6E—which makes use of a much-contended 6GHz frequency spectrum.

Wi-Fi 7, on this note, is expected to be released in a more formal capacity by May this year with the standard promising a five-fold advantage. One, it can handle faster data speeds, which in turn will convert to faster Internet connectivity for those using it. Two, it can handle more data thanks to support for greater bandwidth, which will allow larger data transfer volumes at any instant, a crucial factor, given pretty much everything we do today involves data transfers and connectivity.



“The variability in the availability of 6GHz (spectrum) is not exclusive to India, it is a global concern. Wi-Fi 7 has been purposefully designed to accommodate this.”- Rahul Patel, Senior Vice-President and General Manager, Qualcomm

Besides, it promises much lower latency than before, which means seamlessly instant network connections between two devices, or between a device and a data server located remotely. Four, it promises far more stable network connections, which means that all of your devices will remain connected steadily, without interruptions and connectivity drops.

The crucial fifth point


While each of the above four points promises to ease the lives of billions of people around the world, in India’s context, the greatest promise lies in the fifth advantageous point for Wi-Fi 7—unlike Wi-Fi 6E, it does not rely on the 6GHz band.

Before we delve further, a bit of context: access to the 6GHz band is a highly debated issue, with all telecom operators in the country claiming sole access to it to deliver 5G connectivity. This is crucial for telecom operators since their entire operating business models will depend on having access to the 6GHz connectivity band.

A report on the matter by a telecom news portal in December last indicated that the International Telecommunication Union, after much deliberations at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023, reached a situation where telcos could have more quantum of spectrum for 5G expansion, as well as next-generation 6G technology-backed services. “The 6GHz range airwaves is an ideal mid-band, and can address the immediate spectrum requirements of telecom operators—as 5G-centric bandwidth-hungry applications continue to evolve,” the report stated.


To protect their interest, the three private-sector telecom operators in India—Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone-Idea—wrote to the Union Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw through industry body Cellular Operators Association of India in December itself, on the sidelines of WRC-23, that “failure to designate spectrum in the 6GHz band for mobile services will harm India’s 5G interest.”

The promise lies in the fact that Wi-Fi 7, unlike Wi-Fi 6E, does not rely on the 6GHz band that telcos need for 5G-centric bandwidth-hungry applications.

The parties in question are up in arms on the 6GHz spectrum issue, in large part because Wi-Fi 6E, the current latest Wi-Fi standard, has also laid claim to this spectrum band.



How Wi-Fi 7 can solve this

Technology developers, on this note, claim that Wi-Fi 7 is the solution, not regulatory clashes and hurdles. In October last year, Rahul Patel, Senior Vice-President and General Manager at Qualcomm, told a business TV channel, “The variability in the availability of 6GHz (spectrum) is not exclusive to India, it is a global concern. Wi-Fi 7 has been purposefully designed to accommodate this variability, and India is no exception.”


He further added that Wi-Fi 7 “offers a unique capability that does not rely on the allocation of spectrum within the 6GHz band.” “This technology addresses numerous concerns that have arisen with Wi-Fi 6 and earlier generations, while also aligning with India’s rapid adoption of cloud-based and wireless applications,” he said.

While companies like Qualcomm, and later others such as Ericsson and Nokia, have vouched for Wi-Fi 7 to promote their commercial interests, there is a sizeable amount of truth to be considered here. Segregating spectrum access for a different form of data transmission such as Wi-Fi versus mobile data right at the very onset will help the industry avoid a regulatory tussle. Such tussles typically involve multiple rounds of consultations once the government is involved, and can lead to delays in industrial deployment of new technologies.

Industry stakeholders may argue that such regulatory delays end up leading to missed opportunities that can add up to multiple billions of dollars. It is this that is leading tech firms to bat for the nascent Wi-Fi technology standard well before it even reaches mainstream adoption pace. Once greenlighted for distribution across the country, multiple companies in the networking space would bring the latest Wi-Fi routers and associated networking infrastructure to support Wi-Fi 7. Devices such as smartphones, laptops, televisions, and other smart appliances would upgrade in tandem, thus offering regulatory and operational ease.

CAN we start using Wi-Fi 7 this year itself?

While on the face of it, Wi-Fi 7 can solve much of India’s 6GHz spectrum debacle, the adoption story for any new technology is never so easy. Upgrading existing networking infrastructure, at any given point, costs multiple billions of dollars. As such, the latest standards are rolled out at the very top of the consumption ladder and typically take well over a year to trickle down to mainstream accessibility.

On this note, Wi-Fi 7 would face similar hurdles, too. Existing Wi-Fi routers at home, which in India are often supplied as bundled offerings by the telcos themselves, would need to be upgraded to new ones to support Wi-Fi 7—and it remains to be seen if the already-cash-strapped telcos would even want to go ahead with such an exercise.

Then, comes the devices. Only a handful few smartphones and laptops today would support Wi-Fi 7, which means that mainstream support for the latest connectivity standard would only develop in the months to come.

This, in turn, means that while some users are likely to be able to begin using Wi-Fi 7 if it does become accessible to India in the coming months, the widespread presence of the standard may take time to develop. Until then, many regulatory and corporate debates are likely to be hosted—before the dust settles on the industry’s adoption of a standard that promises to make the market better and simpler to boot.

 By Vernika Awal