Broadcom: Speedy 802.11ac Wi-Fi set for fast, wide rollout

Category: Featured Networks | Posted on February 29, 2012

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What is driving domestic is how near 11ac products are to appearing. For clients to accomplish those speeds, they have to be talking to access points or hotspots or even so-called “small cells” (compact cellular base stations) that are also outfitted with 11ac radio chips.

executives at MWC confirmed nowadays that the chipmaker is “beyond the sampling phase and even in a phase,” according to Michael Hurlston, the company’s senior vice president for LAN, for its two-stream and three-stream 11ac chips. 11ac like 11n uses multiple data streams paired with multiple sending and receiving antennas to accomplish lofty data throughput.

Hurlston said he expects all-embracing OEM products, nearly absolutely access points, routers and the like, to be on sale from Broadcom’s customers by mid-2012. Although the chipmaker hasn’t announced method wins, Hurlston pointed out that the 11ac roadmap announced last month at CES was publicly endorsed by 14 equipment vendors and network providers.

In the booth, Broadcom was running one-, two- and three-stream 11ac radios. The single-stream radio, the type that would be integrated into a smartphone, was delivering usable throughput ranging between 300Mbps and 370Mbps (compared to the underlying PHY rate of 450Mbps), orders of magnitude greater than the 30Mbps-50Mbps, or slightly more, that single-stream 11n can deliver for phones today.

There is a widespread expectation that the additional premium that equipment makers and ultimately end users will have to pay for this improvement is comparatively low. Hurlston estimated that the premium for its 11ac products will be stray from 1.2 to 1.5 times initially. “We exceeded our expectations for that [i.e., for keeping it low],” he said. If the takeup is as as many expect, that will rapidly decline.

The three-stream products from Broadcom and rivals like Qualcomm and Atheros will hold throughput of just above 1 initially.

Qualcomm, with the Wi-Fi expertise and technology from its Atheros acquisition, confirmed it will kick off sampling its 11ac product family sometime in 2012 Q2, according to David Favreau, vice president of product management.

A lot of Qualcomm’s development effort has also involved creating integrated communications processors, marrying Wi-Fi with Bluetooth and other radios, and then tying the effect closely to its Snapdragon applications processor, which powers a wide stray of smartphones today.

Qualcomm’s booth here showed its single-stream 11ac radio, mounted in smartphone prototypes, running in the 220Mbps range, peaking at one point to 247Mbps, in a surrounding Wi-Fi environment, interior MWC’s cavernous Hall 8, that Favreau described as “challenging.”

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