Broadcom (News - Alert) will use the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show as a venue to show off its next-generation of Wi-Fi chips, which the company claims are three times faster and six times more efficient than current technologies.
The IEEE 802.11ac chips are based on the 5th generation of Wi-Fi, and, as such, are being dubbed by Broadcom as 5G Wi-Fi chips, a term that the company hopes will become an industry standard.
5G Wi-Fi is designed to dramatically improve wireless range and download and data transfer speeds, enabling mobile devices and PCs to compensate for the explosion of bandwidth-hungry services like HD video, which have put quite a strain on legacy 802.11a/b/g/n networks. Broadcom says that the chips will increase speeds while lowering power consumption.
The family of chips is designed to match a wide range of wireless segments, including access points, routers, DSL/cable gateways and PC products. The USB-capable chips can also be used in televisions, set-top boxes and Blu-Ray players, says Broadcom. The fastest chip, the BCM4360, reaches speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps and supports three simultaneous streams.
Best Buy (News - Alert) CTO Robert Stephens says that 5G Wi-Fi will help fulfill the promise of the connected home, where PCs, smart phones, routers, tablets and TVs are all tapping into a wireless connection simultaneously.
"Wi-Fi's latest and greatest standard, 802.11ac, promises to deliver the best end-user experience yet," he noted.
The most interesting aspect of the announcement may be the name given to the technology, 5G Wi-Fi, which looks like it is being positioned as a faster alternative to 4G mobile networks, even though they are completely separate technologies.
Michael Hurlston, senior vice president of the mobile and wireless group at Broadcom, told Venture Beat that the perceived marketing ploy is accurate, as 802.11ac is the fifth generation of WiFi (News - Alert) standards.
"We made sure Wi-Fi was part of the name so that consumers recognize what it is when we say 5G," Hurlston told the website, adding that wireless is faster than mobile networks anyway.
Broadcom said that it is currently sampling the solutions with OEMs, service providers and carriers, but didn't offer any specifics on when the chips will make their first appearance in a consumer device. The company will be demonstrating 5G WiFi capabilities at CES (News - Alert), however.
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Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves