CES is all about showcasing the latest and greatest in consumer technology. The next big thing on the wireless technology front is undoubtedly the fifth generation of Wi-Fi: 802.11ac, or the more consumer-friendly term, 5G WiFi.
Last week, Broadcom announced its first family of 5G WiFi chips, which are rated for 1.3 Gbps at the PHY level, with an actual throughput of 800 Mbps to 1 Gbps. These speeds make 5G WiFi comparable to wired gigabit Ethernet, as well as up to three times faster than its 802.11n counterpart
Some features of 5G WiFi that make this possible include:
- 5 GHz-exclusive spectrum: Because 802.11ac only operates on the 5 GHz band, it is subject to a much “cleaner” environment than the 2.4 GHz band, which is populated by microwaves, cordless phones, wireless game controllers, and Bluetooth devices. Less traffic means less chance for collisions and higher transmission rates.
- High-density modulation: 802.11ac supports 256 QAM, whereas 802.11n uses less efficient 64 QAM. This means that more data is squeezed into the same transmission for higher throughput.
- Beamforming: While this was an optional feature in 802.11n, beamforming has been standardized in 802.11ac. Beamforming is the ability to control the direction of propagation of wireless signals, thus giving access points more ability to minimize Wi-Fi “dead spots”, and well as improving the maximum range of Wi-Fi coverage.
- Energy savings: Because 5G WiFi has higher throughput, the same amount of data can be transmitted in less time. This means the chip spends more time in idle mode, which leads to greater power efficiency.
Expect to see 5G WiFi products hitting the shelves in the next few months.
Eric has a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Irvine, and currently works as an RFDVT engineer in his internship with the Broadcom Bluetooth Group in Irvine. He’s a skilled photographer and shows off his work on his blog : www.ericlin.net/blog.