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!!

The Need for 5G WiFi: The Media Challenge

In this two part series, I will attempt to make a case for 5G WiFi. The first part talks to the challenge that the exploding amount of media content poses for current Wi-Fi.

For the past few years Wi-Fi has grown on us.  We have been using Wi-Fi for emails, instant messengers, browsing the web for information, news, on-line shopping, uploading/downloading pictures etc.  And now we have begun to use a lot more of Wi-Fi for sharing our personal videos with family and friends, on-line gaming, watching sneak previews of movies on YouTube, streaming movies and favorite shows from Netflix and watching our favorite sporting events from anywhere in the world over the internet.   In fact, video/real-time media content consumption forms the majority of the internet traffic today, and this category of traffic is becoming increasingly wireless in-home and is only growing faster all around the world.

Wi-Fi has thus enabled us to watch internet content on any and possibly every display screen at homes and enterprises.   Wi-Fi has also enabled productivity gains by providing mobile network connectivity to various gadgets. Thus devices such as PCs, smart phones, tablets, TVs, home theaters, Blu-Ray Disc players, set top boxes, cameras, gaming consoles are all becoming Wi-Fi enabled today.   Further, Wi-Fi will be in more gadgets, appliances and ‘things’ we come to use in our day to day lives such as cameras, cars, washers/dryers, in-home security systems etc. to name a few.

As the appetite for content-rich internet media consumption and distribution in the home and enterprise grows, the question of adequacy of the current networks for delivering a quality video stream without compromise of the mobility experience remains.   Further, with more networked Wi-Fi devices than people in the homes today, the question of bandwidth availability also arises.

In the next part of this series, I will make the case for 5G WiFi given this media and device explosion challenge.