At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week, Broadcom (Nasdaq: BRCM), NetGear (Nasdaq: NTGR) and Buffalo Technology are expected to debut advanced wireless network technology that supports the next generation of Wi-Fi.
Known as 5G, it’s not meant to confuse consumers who are still learning the difference between 3G and 4G mobile networks.
In short, 5G Wi-Fi provides data speeds of 1.3 gigabits per second (Gbps). That’s twice as fast as the 600 megabits per second (Mbps) that you get with today’s Wi-Fi.
That’s one reason why Gartner analyst, Mark Hung, says, “This next generation of WiFi is poised for rapid growth across all product segments… it will be one of the most influential mobile and wireless technologies in the years to come.”
5G promises more than just a major speed boost, though. Here are a few more areas of improvement that I’m especially excited about…
~ Enhanced Support for Multiple Network Devices: While people with families generally don’t have a problem streaming video over most Wi-Fi networks, trouble ensues when you have multiple devices – laptops, PCs, smartphones and tablets – all connected to the network at once.
I can’t tell you how many times I hit pause on a streaming movie while I switch off all the connected devices around my house. It’s certainly become quite a chore.
Luckily, the new 5G Wi-Fi standard allows several devices to stay plugged in without disrupting speed and performance.
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As Michael Hurlston, Senior Vice President of Broadcom’s Mobile and Wireless Group, says, “The exponential growth of digital media and wirelessly connected devices requires faster and more reliable ways to connect anytime, anywhere… 5G Wi-Fi solves this media explosion challenge.”
~ Breaking Down Wi-Fi Walls: Although Wi-Fi signals should keep you connected throughout your house, we all know that’s not the case. Put one wall between you and the router and you’re likely to see signal strength and speed decline.
But as GigaOm says, 5G Wi-Fi “compresses the signal like a laser compresses light to make it more powerful… to better pass through buildings, especially through those made of concrete. The end result is a better signal – even if it must pass through a few walls – and a decent end-user experience.”
~ Higher-Quality Video Streams: When you’re engrossed in a movie stream, only to see the picture quality deteriorate before your eyes, it’s a frustrating experience. But 5G Wi-Fi taps into wider channels, which, according to GigaOm, “means the channels can carry more data, such as high-definition and maybe even 3-D video streams.” So keeping that HD quality picture won’t be such a challenge anymore.
Bottom line: Companies that are manufacturing the components for 5G Wi-Fi are in a good position, as consumers demand more speed and reliability from their wireless networks.
And once consumer-ready 5G routers hit the market in the second half of 2012, the technology is bound to gain attention. At least until devices that connect us to white spaces make their way into our homes, that is.