Entrepreneur Sees Benefits of 5G-WiFi

5G WiFi Drives New Opportunities

A recent article by Steward Wolpin in Entrepreneur.com does a great job of highlighting emerging WiFi technology, and in particular the new 5G WiFi (802.11ac).

Wolpin, a New York City-based writer who has been covering technology for more than 30 years, correctly notes that among the biggest benefits of these new Wi-Fi technologies will be a greatly increased ability to wirelessly connect business environments.

“Wi-Fi as you know it will begin to evolve over the next few months, changing how businesses stay connected,” he writes.

“Today’s fastest Wi-Fi protocol is 802.11n, or just “n,” which provides theoretical data transfer speeds of around 300 megabits per second (Mbps),” notes Wolpin. “Up next on the Wi-Fi speed chart is 802.11ac, alternately called “gigabit,” Very High Throughput Wi-Fi or fifth-generation (5G) Wi-Fi. By any name, 802.11ac Wi-Fi is expected to offer speeds of up to 1300 Mbps — potentially more than four times faster than current “n” routers and about 1,000 times faster than 4G LTE connectivity.”

It should be pointed out that some of the performance comparisons made vis-a-vis 4G LTE are not accurate ; in actual conditions, for example, 5G WiFi is expected to be about 6 times faster than 4G LTE.

Still, the point is well taken. 5G WiFi offers the fastest available wireless download speeds, which is important in environments where large file transfers are common.

At the same time, he notes that 5G  WiFi delivers another equally important benefit: a “relatively vacant” channel.

“Instead of operating in the crowded 2.4 GHz frequencies along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and wireless communication gadgets, 802.11ac Wi-Fi will transmit data in the relatively vacant 5 GHz spectrum,” writes Wolpin.

In addition, he noted,these and other improvements are expected to create speedier, more consistent wireless links further from the router with fewer dead spots and greater ability to penetrate walls.”

For businesses, all of this means more reliable in-office wireless connectivity, which ultimately means businesses can “reduce or eliminate the need for complex and expensive wired broadband connections”.

For workers using portable devices, this also means speedier downloads via 5FWi-Fi and a resulting increase battery life as well.

Other emerging WiFi technologies highlighted in the article include Hotspot 2.0 (also known as Wi-Fi Certified Passpoint), which enables autonomous connection of wireless devices wherever you go; and Super Wi-Fi, which uses so-called TV white space, unused over-the-air spectrum recently approved by the FCC for commercial use. These lower frequencies allow wider and more powerful wireless signal propagation, said Wolpin, adding that, “An indoor Super Wi-Fi 40 mW transmitter creates a Wi-Fi hotspot up to five times the range of current Wi-Fi hotspots. In other words, a hotspot blanketing more than 1,000 feet would be enough to cover a small business office with a single router.”

Well, this is exciting…

The first 5G WiFi product has been announced: the NETGEAR R6300 will ship with Broadcom’s 3×3 802.11ac/5G WiFi chip next month at a low, low price of about $200.

If you were so inclined to try out 5G WiFi, you could buy two units and use them for bridging – essentially, you could use the second unit to extend the range over which you could achieve the highest data synchronization rates.  Normally, your 11n throughput would be reduced because the bridge needs to maintain two links (one to your PC; one to the router.) But with the two routers completing transactions more quickly using 802.11ac, there would be more time left over for the bridge to connect to your PC using 802.11n. Or if you wanted to be the first person on your block to demonstrate 5G WiFi’s maximum speeds, you could go back to what I did in the dawn of Wi-Fi and plug an ethernet cable directly into the bridge router and use it as a very large external wireless card on your PC.

In the near-term, there will be many more 5G WiFi devices on the market, ranging from smartphones to tablets to 5G-enabled laptops and television sets.  You’ll be able to do data synchronization at up to 1300 Mbps, which would be a huge improvement relative to today’s automatic wireless backup devices – mine averages about 40 Mbps, and when I transfer data between legacy 802.11g devices through the router, it didn’t even hit 3 Mbps.  When I want to copy a video onto my current phone, it can take hours; 5G WiFi will reduce this to a matter of minutes.

You’ll also see a significant improvement in your media streaming experience.  Not only will you be able to transfer video from media devices to your PC or phone more quickly, but you’ll see much better performance when you’re actually sharing that video onto an HDTV.  Broadcom’s 5G WiFi chipsets have numerous features that not only extend the range of the highest Wi-Fi data rates, but also reduce the impact of signal fading, which eliminates the periodic video skipping and loss of fidelity that I’ve become so used to when watching TV over the internet.

As with most new technologies, it’s difficult to predict how people will use 5G WiFi once it’s in the marketplace. But as the guy who didn’t see the point of Wi-Fi in the first place, I’m expecting to find out about a whole bunch of different use cases that I never expected.

NETGEAR is First to use Broadcom 5G WiFi Solution

As noted by Engadget and others this morning, NETGEAR announced that its R6300 router is first to use the Broadcom 802.11ac (5G WiFi) chipset in a production device. The router will ship next month for $199.

A NETGEAR release said the R6300 is the first 802.11ac dual band gigabit WiFi router, providing 5th generation WiFi (5G WiFi) at gigabit speeds. The router is also backwards compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n, enabling optimum interoperability with legacy WiFi devices.

“802.11ac is the next-generation of WiFi connectivity and is set to revolutionize the way we consume content wirelessly by delivering Internet speeds up to three times faster than consumers are used to experiencing,” said David Henry, vice president of product management, retail products at NETGEAR. “NETGEAR’s leadership in the industry, and collaboration with Broadcom to introduce the first 802.11ac router, will future proof your network by ensuring your home is capable of supporting new faster 802.11ac devices as they begin to roll out this year.”

NETGEAR noted that the upcoming 802.11ac wireless standard is the world’s fastest WiFi, providing gigabit WiFi speeds and allowing for web content to download faster, and large video or music files to synch more quickly. The increased speed of 802.11ac technology is ideal for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, by providing three times the performance for a similar amount of battery consumption of devices utilizing the current 802.11n WiFi standard, said the release.

The NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router is powered by Broadcom’s 5G WiFi IEEE 802.11ac chips, which are up to three times faster than today’s 802.11n routers.

With an elegant new design that fits perfectly in consumers’ living spaces, the router increases the coverage area for HD streaming in the home, said the release. The NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router has speeds of up to 1300 Mbps on 5GHz and 450 Mbps on 2.4GHz enabling consumers to download web content from any device in the home in a fraction of the time it would take on a similar 802.11n device.

The NETGEAR R6300 WiFi Router includes a variety of features and apps that enable mobile access to music, video and photo files, command printers, provide guest access, stream to DLNA-compatible devices such as Smart TVs and game consoles, provide parental controls, and automatically secure WiFi access out-of-the-box.

5G WiFi Standard is Going Global

The life of a successful communications standard goes through four phases: development by a standards group; approval by regulatory bodies; implementation by hardware and software vendors; and acceptance by the user community. Much of this work can be done in overlapping fashion, to accelerate the standard’s time to market.

In the case of the 5G WiFi (IEEE 802.11ac) standard, development is nearly complete and implementation is beginning. Importantly, approval by regulatory bodies must be achieved to ensure that the largest possible number of users have access to the standard.

Many of our readers wished to understand where 5G WiFi stands with respect to spectrum availability around the world. We interviewed Vinko Erceg, Technical Director of Systems Design Engineering in Broadcom’s Mobile & Wireless Communications division & the Chair of the Wi-Fi Alliance Technical Task Group launching the 802.11ac certification program to get the answers. He has been helping with the drive to secure regulatory approval for 802.11ac around the world.

Erceg noted that companies such as Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, Qualcomm Atheros and others have reached out to regulatory agencies seeking approval for the standard.  This means clearing the 80MHz, 160MHz, and 80+80MHz bandwidths in countries around the world.

“Not every place is cleared yet, but we expect that by the end of the year, we should be able to get approval by most of the countries we are talking with,” said Erceg.

Countries and regions that have already approved or are close to approving the standard include the Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Singapore, Taiwan and the United States.

Others that are expected to approve spectrum for 5G WiFi in coming quarters include Argentina, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, the Ukraine and Venezuela.

Edimax announces two new 5G WiFi consumer products

The emerging 5G WiFi (802.11ac) wireless communications standard got a new boost this week when Taiwanese electronics maker Edimax announced it will roll out a new family of wireless communications devices. According to VR-Zone and others, Edimax is unveiling a networking duo including a wireless 5G WiFi (802.11ac) router and a USB adapter.

The Edimax router and wireless USB dongle and similar devices are slated for production in the next few months, marking early entries into the 5G WiFi market for router-to-PC or router-to-laptop connectivity. Later devices are expected to replace the USB dongle with 5G WiFi connectivity embedded directly into the computing platforms.

The Edimax router uses a Broadcom 600 MHz Intensi-fi MIPS32 central processor with two WLAN modules: the Broadcom BCM4331 for 802.11 b/g/n in the 2.40 GHz band, and a Broadcom BCM4360 supporting 5G WiFi for network bandwidths up to 1.30 Gbps. The wired LAN interface includes a one gigabit uplink port and four gigabit downstream ports. The device also includes two PCI-Express interfaces, a built-in USB 2.0 host controller, and DDR2 memory controller.

The Edimax USB dongle is one of the industry’s first to support 5G WiFi. The dongle uses Broadcom BCM43526 chip, and offers dual-band operation.

Broadcom’s 5G WiFi technology features beam-forming technology, which assists 5G WiFi enabled devices by streaming or steering content in the direction of the intended receiver, thereby increasing reliability, extending range and providing better coverage.