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Wi-Fi 7 Fundamentals: What is 4K-QAM?

By TP-Link Editorial Group

4K-QAM (4096-QAM), is one of the key enhancements of WiFi 7 (IEEE 802.11be), the upcoming next-generation WiFi standard. Not sure what any of that means? Here, we’ll walk you through what it is and why it matters.

Let’s get started with QAM.

What is QAM?

Extensively used in 802.11 WiFi standards, QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) translates digital packets into an analog signal that can wirelessly transfer data. By varying the phase and amplitude of radio waves, the technology improves spectral efficiency by incorporating more data into each transmission.

WiFi 7, 4K-QAM, TP-Link

QAM sets a suitable constellation size to achieve arbitrarily high spectral efficiencies. It usually arranges constellation points in a square grid with equal vertical and horizontal spacing. In digital telecommunications data is usually binary, so the number of points in the grid is typically a power of 2 (like 2, 4, 8, 16…), corresponding to the number of bits per symbol.

WiFi 7, 4K-QAM, TP-Link

The simplest and most commonly used QAM constellations consist of points arranged in a square, such as 16-QAM, 64-QAM, and 256-QAM. By moving to a higher-order constellation, it’s possible to transmit more bits per symbol.

Bits per Symbol

Number of Symbols

QAM Modulation


24 = 16



26 = 64



28 = 256



210 = 1024



212 = 4096




What is 4K-QAM?

4K-QAM (4096-QAM) is a QAM modulation using 4096 (=212) constellation points arranged in a square, where each symbol carries 12 bits. Packing more data, 4K-QAM enables a 20% data rate increase in WiFi 7 (802.11be) compared with 1024-QAM of WiFi 6 (802.11ax). 

WiFi 7, 4K-QAM, TP-Link


Why does it matter for WiFi 7?

4K-QAM brings a higher data transmission rate and spectral efficiency. This is crucial for consistently serving a large number of clients and ensures fast and reliable WiFi coverage in high-density deployment scenarios. Now you can watch 4K/8K videos with impeccable fidelity or play and stream your online gaming from your home studio. With 4K-QAM, streaming just got that much better.


Learn More about WiFi 7

Full Introduction of WiFi 7>>

What is Wi-Fi 7? An in-depth overview of the future Wi-Fi

How is WiFi 7 different from WiFi 6?

How Fast are WiFi 7 Router?

What is 320 MHz?




TP-Link Editorial Group

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