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.

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 and the Road Analogy – Part 2

In the first part of this article, I described a basic analogy that exists between roads and wireless communications. In this part, I will explain the speed benefits and relevant innovations of 5G WiFi using this analogy.

The one obvious way to solve traffic clogs is to widen the roads. This allows more commuters to use it at any point in time. Bandwidth is like the width of the road. Increasing the bandwidth of the wireless medium allows more data to be sent. With 5G WiFi, the bandwidth can be increased up to 4x that of 802.11n Wi-Fi. This allows for optimal use of the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum. Incidentally, 5 GHz is like a highway or expressway without traffic lights or “interference”. Unlike the 2.4 GHz, the 5 GHz link is not affected by Microwave, cordless phones or Bluetooth devices, thus enabling data to go through more reliably. You can get more information on the benefits of the 5 GHz here and here.

Another way to address the traffic issue is to mandate carpools and public transportation. This immediately allows more people to be transported for the same road-width. Modulation schemes serve a similar purpose. When a link uses higher modulation schemes, more data can be packed in the same bandwidth. 5G WiFi, in addition to increasing available bandwidth, has also incorporated the higher modulation scheme of 256-QAM for greater speeds. This higher modulation scheme allows us to transmit the same amount of data in lesser time.

Carpools help us conserve fuel and go-green by reducing the number of cars on the road for the same number of people!  The more efficient data transfer, together with the higher bandwidth, allows us to save battery life of devices using 5G WiFi making it ideal for mobile computing and transfer of media content!

In summary, 5G WiFi’s innovations give us faster speeds and better battery life. In the concluding part of this series, I will describe the higher reliability offered by 5G WiFi using the same road analogy.

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.