5G WiFi Unveiled at CES, Industry Already On-Board

The range of Broadcom's first 5G WiFi chipsOne of the benefits of making a Wi-Fi announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2012 is that it’s no longer necessary to explain the concept of the wireless technology. Wi-Fi has become a household term that consumers recognize as describing a shared wireless Internet connection to many of their devices – from laptop computers to smart phones and tablet PCs. And the lineup of WiFi-enabled devices is growing as televisions, set-top boxes and gaming consoles tap into the signal.

Just in time to save us all from the seemingly inevitable consequence of adding all of these devices – deteriorating performance, choppy videos and slow load times – Broadcom is unveiling the first family of chips using the emerging IEEE 802.11ac standard, also known as 5G or fifth-generation WiFi.

The chips are three times faster than their predecessor and up to six times more power-efficient than 802.11n chips, and are designed for a broad range of product segments . They’re particularly evolutionary when it comes to handling the explosive increase in consumption of online video and other media types.

Through the technology, the range of the wireless signal in the home is dramatically improved, allowing consumers to watch HD-quality video from more devices in more places – at the same time. The increased speed opens the door for faster downloads and synchronization of large video files – such as HD video – to mobile devices. As an added bonus, the faster speeds also reduce power consumption. Because the volume of data is transferred at an exponentially faster rate, downloads are quicker, allowing the devices to enter low-power mode faster.

The 5G WiFi offerings from Broadcom include an 80 MHz channel bandwidth that is twice as wide as current offerings. They also run at a higher modulation scheme, which increases the efficiency of data transfer. Finally, they not only work with all legacy 802.11 standards.

At CES next week, there is sure to be plenty of excitement around 5G Wi-Fi as Broadcom starts sampling 5G Wi-Fi to its early access partners – retailers, PC manufacturers, service providers and carriers. The technology already has broad support across the consumer electronics industry, including a long list of companies that are already recognizing 802.11ac as the next-generation of Wi-Fi and are committed to the development, integration and distribution of it.

It’s worth noting that 5G Wi-Fi isn’t a technology that might or might not gain traction. Mark Hung, wireless research director for Gartner Research said that the growth of Wi-Fi-enabled devices – from less than 1 billion units to more than 3 billion by 2015 – is turning this new wave into a reality.

“Given the current constraints of legacy 802.11 standards and the increased speed, capacity, coverage and battery life that 802.11ac offers, this next generation of Wi-Fi is poised for rapid growth across all product segments,” Hung said. “802.11ac will be one of the most influential mobile and wireless technologies in the years to come.”

About the Author

Sam Diaz is the Director of Digital Content for Broadcom. He oversees the online content for Broadcom.com and the Broadcom Connected blog, as well as the company’s social media efforts. He is a veteran… More