Sunday, July 22, 2012

Collaboration, Innovation and 5G WiFi

The IEEE standards association is a fantastic model of collaboration that brings together competing organizations, ideas and interests to advance technology and the framework for innovation. Companies from all over the world send highly talented engineers and scientists to develop standards within IEEE working groups. Competing companies collaborate to develop the standards that enable interoperability, innovation, and ultimately competition between those same companies. The consumer is the biggest winner of this cooperation and standardization. With a common and open standard, the marketplace creates the competitive environment that leads to innovative new products and drives prices down over time.

A standard that you will likely hear more about is the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN (a.k.a. WiFi) standard. A new 5th generation (5G) WiFi standard, designated 802.11ac will deliver multi-Gbps data rates. This is significant because 802.11ac will enable faster wireless data rates than most of us now have with our wired 100 Mbps connections. The 802.11ac standard is still in draft form and not expected to be completed until later this year, but already there are 5G WiFi products available. This shows the pace of market-driven innovation. 

What new killer apps will we see with 5G WiFi? The most talked-about new application for 5G WiFi is streaming high-definition (HD) video. Another innovation of 5G WiFi called MIMO-MU enables transmission to multiple user devices simultaneously. For example, MIMO-MU allows the viewing of one video stream in multiple rooms. 

Apple TV based upon the slower 802.11n standard is already available for standard definition or compressed video. These Apple TV boxes eliminate the cable tether while watching your favorite programming on iPhones, iPads, and equipped TVs. Rumor is that Apple will be one of the early adopters of 802.11ac and we may see HD Apple TV later this year. 

What other applications will we see for this new 5G WiFi standard? Here are some predictions:

  • Screaming fast data rates mean no waiting for wireless uploads or downloads of movies, photos, ...
  • Wireless video-conferencing.
  • Wireless office solutions for both home office and enterprise business environments.
  • Wireless classroom and teaching environments.

I am sure that there are many more great ideas yet to be considered. Clever engineers and entrepreneurs will invent many novel solutions and applications using this new technology. And it all begins with a collaborative, open,  free-market environment.

Figures from IEEE, Broadcom and Apple


  1. Wow.. This great news especially for companies offering event wifi or temporary internet connection for big events.

  2. Yes, for companies like yours? :>) There are probably new services that you can offer your clients.

    Here's another new ap for 5G WiFi mentioned by a colleague: high-bandwidth wireless gaming - think wireless virtual reality.