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.

30% of Americans can’t go one hour without Wi-Fi

Some surprising results from a Broadcom survey of 900 Americans:

  • 30% cannot go one full hour without a Wi-Fi connection
  • 60% cannot go one full day without Wi-Fi access before seeking a connection

I was trying to think of the last time I went a full day without checking my email – if you don’t count 26 hours of internet-free travel from San Francisco to Singapore two years ago, I believe it was in 2006 when I went to the Mayan Pyramids in Guatemala and there was no power for roughly 20 hours per day. My obsession with connectivity might be a little sad, but at least I know I’m not alone!

What you have to keep in mind here is that people are used to an always-on internet connection, whether that’s over Wi-Fi or cellular data networks. This is where 5G WiFi comes in: not only does it increase the capacity of existing Wi-Fi networks to support the exponential growth of smartphones, but it also allows cellular carriers to seamlessly offload customers from their limited spectrum to the vast expanses of the 5 GHz band.

With total wireless cellular penetration exceeding 100% in the United States, it won’t be that long before 100% of Americans will be unable to go a full day without Wi-Fi access.

5G WiFi Ground Zero – Broadcom NETGEAR launch event

Here is the video of the 5G WiFi launch event that happened in San Francisco today. Hear Michael Hurlston, SVP Broadcom talk about the pervasiveness of Wi-Fi today, and the benefits of 5G WiFi. Patrick Lo, NETGEAR’s CEO talks to their leadership in the networking space. David Henry, NETGEAR’s VP Product Marketing demonstrates why 5G WiFi & the R6300 Wi-Fi routers are an absolute must for future proofing your home network.

NETGEAR Unveils 5G WiFi Routers and Notebook Adapter

At a joint event with Broadcom in San Francisco today, NETGEAR announced the first 802.11ac adapter for notebooks, and showed two versions of routers.

The A6200 WiFi Adapter is the first USB 802.11ac-based adapter on the market for client devices like notebook computers. The A6200 notebook adapter docks to client devices using a USB 2.0 port. It’s expected to cost about $69 and will ship in August.

David Henry, vice president of product management for NETGEAR, told a crowd of reporters that the high-end, three-stream R6300 is available online Thursday for the previously announced price of $199.99 and is expected to be available in retail stores by the end of the week.

NETGEAR also unveiled the R6200, a two-stream, mid-range version of the R6300 that will retail for about $179.99 beginning in July.

aLL devices use Broadcom 5G WiFi chips to deliver up to 1,300 Mbps speeds on the 5 GHz band, plus additional coverage in the earlier 2.4 GHz band for combined performance well above the Gigabit range.

Both the adapter and routers are backward compatible with previous Wi-Fi routers and clients.

Michael Hurlston, senior vice president at Broadcom, said he expects that 802.11ac technology will be integrated into PCs during the third quarter of this year, followed by televisions in the fourth quarter, and finally mobile phones in early 2013, largely due to their differing development cycles.

Earlier this week, BuffaloTechnology shipped its first 5G WiFi router.

Need More Spectrum

Wireless spectrum is like freeways: the more you build, the more traffic you get. There was certainly a time when the 110 freeway through downtown Los Angeles was synonymous with smooth sailing at 55 miles per hour, but for decades, the world’s highest-capacity freeway network has filled every additional lane that got built with twice as much traffic as before.

I noticed this tweet from Stephen Lawson a couple of days ago that suggests cellular operators are running up against the same problem:

Stephen has a number of other comments from his trip to CTIA, including what might seem like a surprising statistic: wireless subscriptions have achieved 105% penetration in the United States. Surprising when I think back to my summer job with a CDMA operator in 1998 where everyone wondered if cell phones would ever achieve 30% market penetration; unsurprising given that today I have three wireless subscriptions.

With so many wireless devices in service, it’s definitely no surprise that we’re running out of spectrum, especially as more and more of these mobile devices are used for high-bandwidth video applications. And while allocating a significant amount of additional spectrum could solve the problem in the short-term, that’s not a simple solution – roughly 1 GHz of total cellular bandwidth has been set aside worldwide, but in any given country, it is shared with dozens of other wireless applications, including television, radio, satellites and navigation. (This 2003 chart of United States frequency allocations is very instructive!) The pace of clearing spectrum to open up new cellular bands is very slow because it often requires completely changing existing technology in a band – think about how long it took to switch to digital television, which created the already at-capacity 700 MHz LTE bands.

Fortunately, 5G WiFi presents a solution to this problem. The 5 GHz band, where 5G WiFi operates, offers another 1 GHz of spectrum that can potentially be used to offload high-bandwidth cellular usage to Wi-Fi. Much of this band is already open for Wi-Fi use in the United States and other countries, and the remainder may be licensed in the near future. The even better news is that the capacity of the 5 GHz band is even greater than a similar amount of cellular spectrum: there are significantly fewer users in this band than there are in cellular bands, and the reduced range of Wi-Fi relative to cellular (several hundred meters vs several kilometers) allows even more users to share the spectrum. While it’s difficult for cellular spectrum allocations to keep up with the growth in a carrier’s customers, for example, 5G WiFi presents an opportunity to quickly build 10 times as many freeways, so to speak. Even Los Angeles would have smooth traffic with that kind of increase in capacity.

Buffalo Technology 5G WiFi Products in stores

Buffalo Technology, a leader in wired and wireless networking and direct attached storage solutions, has selected the 5G WiFi standard to realize a 3x improvement in download performance, increased signal integrity and wider coverage for its new generation of routers.

A Buffalo Technology statement said the company has selected Broadcom’s 5G WiFi chips for its new AirStation™ WZR-D1800H wireless router and WLI-H4-D1300 wireless media bridge, both available now at select retail locations.

“Buffalo is again at the forefront of wireless networking, delivering the world’s first Wi-Fi router leveraging 802.11ac technology in a cost-effective, high performance package,” said Hajime Nakai, chief executive officer at Buffalo Technology.

First unveiled at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the AirStation™ router and bridge combination use Broadcom’s 5G WiFi to implement the emerging 802.11ac wireless standard for improved download speeds, reduced power consumption in mobile devices, and wider coverage areas. The 5G WiFi devices are also fully backward compatible with earlier  wireless protocols, including 802.11a, 11b, 11g and 11n.

Operating in the 5 GHz spectrum, 802.11ac offers transfer speeds up to 1300 Mbps, ideal for uninterrupted HD video streaming and concurrent Internet access. Buffalo’s 802.11ac products will also feature improved signal reliability and produce better in-home coverage for ultra-portable devices such as tablets and smart phones. As 5G WiFi proliferates into phones and tablets, the chips will enable even better coverage and faster download times, improving the battery life of client devices.

“5G WiFi will improve the HD video streaming experience with its higher speeds, enhanced range and increased reliability,” said Michael Hurlston, Broadcom’s SVP and GM of the Wireless Combo Connectivity line of business. “Buffalo Technology’s products using Broadcom’s chipsets give consumers the fastest, most robust wireless networking solutions available.”

Buffalo’s AirStation AC1300 / N900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WZR-D1800H provides a dependable, high quality signal boasting speeds up to 1300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, and 450Mbps on the 2.4 GHz 3×3 802.11n band. This enables a total aggregate wireless throughput up to 1750 Mbps for extremely fast data syncing, video streaming, and wireless networking.

The AirStation AC1300 / N450 4-Port Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Ethernet Bridge WLI-H4-D1300 is a versatile dual band media bridge connecting up to four network-enabled wired devices, such as media players and gaming consoles, using the 802.11ac network. Using the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz spectrum for transfer speeds up to 1300 Mbps, the bridge offers uninterrupted HD video streaming and concurrent Internet access from multiple connected devices.

The WZR-D1800H and WLI-H4D1300 are available now at Fry’s, Frys.com and NewEgg.com at an estimated price of $179.99 each. For more information about Buffalo Technology see www.buffalotech.com.

Belkin Intros 5G WiFi Routers for Gigabit-Speed Home Networking

Belkin International, creators of people-inspired products and technology solutions, today announced plans to become one of the first to market with a line of wireless Gigabit-speed dual-band home network routers using the new 802.11ac wireless networking standard.

The new Belkin routers, expected to be available in June, will feature 5G WiFi chips from Broadcom Corporation. 5G WiFi or 802.11ac chips provided wireless transmission speeds up to three times faster than existing technology for higher performance and reliability and lower power consumption.

“802.11ac technology provides the wireless networking backbone needed to reliably handle the increasing amount of mobile devices and streaming content on today’s home networks,” said Mike Chen, senior director of networking at Belkin. “We are excited to partner with Broadcom to bring cutting-edge Wi-Fi products to market this summer that not only provide great speed and coverage, but also enhance the online streaming experience for videos, movies, and music throughout the home.”

The gigabit data rates of 5G WiFi enable dramatically faster file syncing, music and movie downloads to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. The higher speeds also save battery life, while the focused transmission beam extends the throughput and reliability of the router.

Michael Hurlston, Broadcom’s senior vice president of Wireless Combo Connectivity, said Belkin is “strongly positioned to help drive the transition to the fifth generation of Wi-Fi.”

“By incorporating Broadcom’s 5G WiFi chips, Belkin’s new products will improve home wireless range, provide faster video streaming, enable simultaneous connection of multiple devices to the network, and deliver broader coverage-all with a longer battery life,” said Hurlston. “We’re thrilled to partner with Belkin to help bring all the benefits of 5G WiFi to consumers.”

The lineup of products powered by Broadcom’s 5G WiFi technology continues to grow. Last month, NETGEAR unveiled its 5GWiFi-powered router.

Broadcom is the first chip company to release 5G WiFi devices using the emerging 802.11ac standard.

For more information about Belkin’s 5G WiFi products, visit www.Belkin.com/networking/ac-routers.  Belkin can also be found on the web at Belkin.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/belkin, and on Twitter at Twitter.com/belkin.

Broadcom Gets Award for 5G WiFi Technology at Interop 2012

Broadcom’s family of 5G WiFi or 802.11ac chips were honored this week as being some of the best at the Interop conference in Las Vegas. The devices were named Best New Product with the 2012 Network Products Guide Hot Companies and Best Products Award.

Broadcom was the first to introduce chips using the new 802.11ac wireless technology and has created some early excitement around the concept of 5GWiFi. Already, companies are rolling out products that will use the new technology – NETGEAR being the first – and others are excited about the potential that it will offer. The technology promises a more robust and more seamless experience around digital content, such as video, and the capabilities of sharing that content across a number of devices, including televisions, mobile phones, tablet computers and traditional PCs.