5G WiFi: The Standard for the Mobile Age

Increasingly, the Internet is moving to mobile devices. In fact, the speed of this migration has even taken social media platforms like Facebook by surprise.

Savvy tech companies will learn from this.

The stratospheric increase in the use of smart phones with sophisticated apps and web browsing abilities means that the platform is quickly reaching (and perhaps soon exceeding) the functional capabilities of current televisions and desktop PCs.

With their high performance processors and large data storage capabilities, smart phones are quickly becoming mini television sets and game players as well as mini computers.

The only significant bottleneck in the system is the wireless connection.

Current wireless standards simply don’t have the bandwidth to handle the applications that users are now expecting – and content providers are close to providing.

As a solution, the 5GWiFi or IEEE 802.11ac standard allows wireless networks keep pace with our constantly expanding use of computers, phones, and tablets, for both work and fun.

The new IEEE 802.11ac is a worldwide standard that offers at least triple the transmission speeds of current Wi-Fi products using IEEE 802.11n.

Even the slowest IEEE 802.11ac connection will be about as fast as a today’s USB 2.0 wired links, which are widely used in external storage and far better than existing wireless data rates.

This means that even on mobile devices, streaming video won’t freeze or sputter and Web downloads won’t slow to a crawl when multiple devices are in use, 5GWiFi provides a technology to ensure that the user experience is everything they expect.

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.

5G WiFi – Standard of Standards

One of our readers asked, “Would my 5G WiFi device work with my other Wi-Fi devices? Also, will my 5G WiFi router work with other devices that implement 802.11ac?”

The answer to both questions is YES.

5G WiFi is a holistic wireless experience. It not only provides the user with the speeds and reliability of 802.11ac, but is entirely backward compatible with existing Wi-Fi devices. As an example, today’s smartphones that predominantly use 802.11n Wi-Fi will be able to communicate with a 5G WiFi router seamlessly, but at 802.11n rates. Let us assume a home network with a 5G WiFi router, a 5G WiFi enabled PC, and an 802.11n smartphone. The 5G WiFi router is smart enough to talk to the 802.11n smartphones at lower speeds while communicating with the 5G WiFi PC at the faster 802.11ac rates.

Additionally, 5G WiFi will also be interoperable with devices from various semiconductor vendors. The industry has done well to define 802.11ac as a comprehensive and interoperable standard. This includes standardizing advanced protocols like beamforming that were left open-ended in the previous generation of Wi-Fi. Further, all 5G WiFi products will be compatible with the certification program that the Wi-Fi Alliance will launch in early 2013. This further attests to the interoperability of 5G WiFi products – when other vendors are ready with 802.11ac offerings, they will be interoperable with 5G WiFi products and vice versa. It is also worth noting that the draft standard that 5G WiFi solutions use is very stable and changes [if any] can be addressed easily with no impact on the consumers buying products.

The consumer can also be assured that the transition to 5G WiFi will be smooth unlike the 802.11n days. When 802.11n was launched, vendors implemented different flavors of the standard. As a result, there was market confusion post-launch about the capabilities of various products, and their ability to seamlessly interoperate. This time around, the industry has learned from the negative consumer experiences and has proactively worked to address them. For example, key features that are required for the speeds, range and reliability of 5G WiFi are prescribed clearly, and will be tested by the Wi-Fi Alliance for interoperability. Vendors themselves will be cautious this time around recognizing fully well that the consumer experience is key to the adoption of this next generation of Wi-Fi.

In summary, 5G WiFi will be the STANDARD OF STANDARDS – backward compatible, interoperable, and holistic. It will work.

Times I Wished I had 5G WiFi: Part I

This might seem implausible, but I think I’m a Luddite technologist – I have six computers, three personal audio players, two tablets, a supposedly wireless printer and an HDTV with more inputs than I could ever use…And yet I am an incredibly slow adopter of technology. Here’s a great example – a few years ago, I bought my mom a Slingplayer so that she could watch her TV when she was traveling. I didn’t have cable TV myself, but I put together a system she could use when she was visiting:

In case that’s not clear, my PC connects to the Slingplayer and streams video to my TV using a VGA-to-composite converter (which is sadly SD on my HDTV.) For all of the inputs on my HDTV, I didn’t have any that had the same sync rates as the PC I was using to generate video, and the PC was so old that I couldn’t successfully add an HDMI card to it. Of course, the system now needed a remote control, a role that was ably-filled by a wireless keyboard and mouse. As you may well imagine, everyone other than me found this system incredibly confusing and I basically had to come into the living room anytime anyone wanted to change the channel.  I finally gave in and got cable last year, and I now have a fairly standard setup with a set-top box connected to my TV, but no capability to stream video from my PC to the TV.

Here’s where I wish I had 5G WiFi. With 802.11ac expected to ship in the next generation of HDTVs, wireless routers and smartphones, my TV will have an interface that will allow me to access content from the outside world, whether my router is connected to the internet via a cable modem, fiber optic cable or even 4G LTE. (This nicely eliminates the PC from my setup.) And with seamless integration of 5G WiFi into all of these devices, my smartphone will also serve as a remote control – an obvious application, but not one that’s done poorly at the moment – or as a game controller. (Now my wireless keyboard and mouse are eliminated.)

Those are the simple and obvious applications – 5G WiFi eliminates the most-complicated parts of my Rube Goldberg A/V setup. But it also enables Wi-Fi Display from my smartphone – I can stream a movie or a video game from my phone directly to my TV. 5G WiFi has three times the throughput of my 802.11n wireless router, so I can stream high-quality video and do something else simultaneously with my phone – use the internet, stream audio, you name it.

As I mentioned in my last piece, I like to try to come up with technology that my mom would find useful. Not only would my mom find the 5G WiFi TV, smartphone remote and 5G WiFi Display really cool, she’d be really excited that it got rid of all of the clutter (keyboard, mouse, extra computer) that I had in my living room.

5G WiFi and the Road Analogy – Part 1

5G WiFi, based on IEEE 802.11ac forms the basis of next generation Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi which will get us 3x more speeds than similar Wi-Fi solutions today. The disruptive speeds brought to us by 5G WiFi are best explained by the traffic analogy.

Roads are designed to transport people. A bigger, more organized road enables more people to commute at any point in time. The commuter experience is further helped by lack of accidents, pot-holes, and slower vehicles on the road. The communication link is similar to the road. While roads carry people, these links carry data from one device to another. Much like roads, the amount of data that can be transferred at any point in time really depends on how “wide” the link is and how smoothly and reliably the data travels through the link.

Today’s 802.11n Wi-Fi is a good wireless link. It reliably transmits up to a few hundred Mbps of data wirelessly. But greater speeds will allow data to be transferred faster, and will therefore allow more devices to use the wireless medium at the same time. Data is very much like people on the road. Data also requires getting to the destination as fast as possible. But that goal is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve now. In traffic parlance, the 11n road is getting clogged, and there are people in ramps waiting to be metered in.

Wider wireless "roads" support more data

5G WiFi is designed to address the growing need to support more content and more devices. In order to provide these higher speeds and reliable coverage, the standard uses more bandwidth, higher modulation schemes, and features such as beam-forming.

In the second part of this article, I will jump right back to the road to help understand what these enhancements bring to the table.

Buffalo shows off 5G WiFi @ CES

5G WiFi is definitely one of the stars at CES 2012. Buffalo Technology demonstrated the 5th generation of WiFi publicly at CES. The 5G WiFi demo was blazing at speeds of over 800 Mbps consistently.

The WZR-1750H enables the full 5G WiFi experience. It not only features the high speeds and reliability afforded by 3-stream 802.11ac, but is also fully backward compatible with ALL existing 802.11 a/b/g/n devices.

You can read more about the Buffalo demo here. Pictures of the speed and demo setup can be seen here. To know more about 5G WiFi, visit www.5gwifi.org

The Need for 5G WiFi – The Panacea

In the post titled “The Need for 5G WiFi – The Media Challenge”, I suggested that the increasing amount of media content and the explosion of networked devices may make the current generation of Wi-Fi inadequate. Let me expand on that thought a little further here before presenting 5G WiFi as the panacea.

The current (4th) generation of Wi-Fi technology also known as 802.11n has largely been deployed in the 2.4GHz frequency band.  This band has limited capacity and is shared with other non-Wi-Fi gadgets/appliances such as baby monitors, microwave ovens, cordless phones and Bluetooth technology based devices such as headsets, computer wireless keyboards and mice, phones etc.    With the medium being shared amongst all these devices, performance takes the back seat, and more so at the edge of the home.  802.11n also supports 5GHz frequency band – a lot cleaner medium than 2.4GHz, but the industry adoption has been very limited largely due to range limitations.

5G WiFi, based on 802.11ac, is the 5th generation of Wi-Fi technology5G WiFi benefits from the 5GHz frequency band. Further, 5G WiFi innovations focus on the pain points of the prior generations especially around media content consumption.   5G WiFi is 3-4 times faster than 802.11N giving us Gigabit wireless speeds. To put this in perspective, this is better than wired USB2.0 speeds and comparable to Gigabit Ethernet speeds.

These increased speeds are achieved through a combination of support for wider channels up to 160MHz [compared to 40MHz in 802.11n], and higher modulations of up to 256 QAM [compared to 64 QAM in 802.11n].  This makes 5G WiFi an ideal option when synchronizing gadgets wirelessly at wired speeds.    Also, 5G WiFi with its industry-specified beamforming technology provides range benefits that enable whole home coverage for media intensive applications such as streaming of HD content.   Together, these innovations help 5G WiFi address the challenges faced by today’s Wi-Fi network in the face of the media challenge.

In summary, 5G WiFi is exactly what the doctor ordered for the next gen in-home mobility experience!!