back to article Broadcom uncloaks zippy '5G WiFi' chippery

As promised, communications chipmeister Broadcom has announced its first family of chips based on the still-unratified high-speed 5G WiFi standard more prosaically known as IEEE 802.11ac. "The exponential growth of digital media and wirelessly connected devices requires faster and more reliable ways to connect anytime, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, there goes the bandwidth.

    80MHz? That means it positively eats all of the available 2.4GHz band spectrum* at once. For a single channel. Seeing how much the band is overcrowded already, that's not going to improve things. 5GHz can host maybe four 80MHz channels, if you squint a lot. These promises of range seem to be made out of marketanium in that I very much doubt they'll stand up to real-world performance testing, especially in the face of lots of other parties also trying to use their home router on the same band.

    Wireless will remain a long way off from replacing ye olde cable, not because of the technology, but because the available spectrum remains limited, and too many clueless halfwits keep on plonking their unconfigured "home routers" on the aether.

    * Don't mention channel 14. I did once, but I think I got away with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're ignoring the other advances of the technology, such as MIMO and beamforming.

      You get both spectral and space diversity these days, so 80mhz channels can coexist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        11ac is for 5 GHz band only - it won't work on 2.4 GHz at all.

        You can get at least four 80 MHz channels at 5 GHz, and much more in some countries.

        This will be enough for a long while yet, since few people use this band to date. Propagation at 5 GHz band is more limited than 2.4 GHz, which will help to reduce interference on the same channel in dense deployments.

        It's true that there is better interference management/mitigation in the newer versions of Wi-Fi, but you can't count on MIMO beamforming helping much, since typical number of antennas is only 2 to 4, and are usually cross-polarised in pairs, so the effective beam patterns are very broad.

    2. Ru

      I have a clever design in mind

      If involves using a set of copper waveguides directly linking the client machines with a base station. It is only marginally more inconvenient than 5ghz radio for most deployments and has the advantage of allowing significantly denser networks, higher bandwidth and cheaper, lower power networking devices.

      Do you think it will catch on? I'm not sure than 'wireful networking' is the best name for it, but I seem hard pressed to think of something better...

  2. Mage Silver badge



    ha ha ha

    you need a coax cable or twisted pair for more than a metre or so.

    In the real world few people will see much more speed.

    80MHz ... Is a bit unfriendly unless range is about 2m and you only have one ... Oh wait.

    My coat is the one with Shannon and Nyquist papers in the pocket.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      Sounds like you think that 80MHz is the frequency the wifi was specced to run at, rather than the bandwidth of the wifi in the 5GHz range. Hopefully your reading comprehension is better in whatever line of work you do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I would've expected laments about the size of the antenna in that case.

  3. Mage Silver badge


    Basically you are lucky if 5.8GHz can do more than one room. Certainly much worse than 2.4GHz to cover a household.

    Any open plan Office I know only has a "guest" wifi point and all the laptops/Netbooks plug into wired ethernet.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, my current wifi router supports 54mb/s, but isn't really tested to the full by my 20mb/s broadband package, which is in turn bottlenecked by my local exchange only supporting 8mb/s and, by the time the signal gets from the exchange to me, via BT's antiquated copper telephone lines, I'm lucky to get about 3,5mb/s.

    I don't think a new router, with a 5G chip inside, will help that much.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not BT here, but...

      ... the ISP-supplied does-everything-and-n-too* box gets 3, 3.5, maybe 4Mbit/s (down, and 440kb/s up) on a good day. A much older modem-only box** actually gets somewhere north of 6Mbit/s (down, and 1024kb/s up). Apparently the other power requirements, perhaps for the wireless, detract from the ADSL interface, as I've seen progressive generations of ISP-supplied kit*** perform worse and worse, with ever fancier features such as voip, iptv and 802.11n support added. Basic ADSL and IP routing function, even simple firmware stability, even without any of those fancy features actually seeing any use, suffered. Their mere presence was enough.

      All of which just to say: Might be worthwhile to try a separate ADSL modem with a sturdy power brick, and do the rest with some other box.

      802.11g, while nominally 54Mbit, will only see 20-odd Mbit in practice. It's half-duplex and shared, after all. And depending on how your situation (did you do a site survey?) you might improve local reception quite a bit with something as simple as a bit of cardboard with tin-foil backing stuck on an antenna. See eg freeantennas dot com for inspiration and even a nice printable template or two.

      Of course, all that is far too practical and doesn't drive more sales, so obviously releasing more "pre-newest-standards" kit is the way forward. I haven't really kept up but various free OSes don't even have full and proper 'n' support yet. Glad to see someone going forward, eh.

      * Though of course no 5GHz. Or QoS, or current line usage, or showing which MAC eats the most bandwidth, or a host of other little things that would in fact make the ruddy thing *useful*. No alternate firmware either.

      ** For political reasons it cannot be used, and neither could a sensible ISP. So crappy Arcadyan kit and KPN it is.

      *** Then thomson, with fantastically bad firmware that violates the gpl to boot. The replacement is different, but not better.

      1. Ammaross Danan


        Don't buy the cheapo kit.

        ISP-supplied router/modem/All-in-Ones usually have such cut-throat hardware that it likely can barely process a single computer connection to the internet, and only if you're just surfing a minimalist website.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Crappy closed source drivers?

    Does it come with crappy closed-source drivers like all their other products? Can't wait!

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