Faster in-home Wi-Fi is only one or two years away, according to Craig Barratt, president of Qualcomm Atheros, who said the next generation Wi-Fi standard could deliver in-home speeds of a gigabit. During an on-camera interview at our Mobilize conference on Tuesday, Barratt explained how Wi-Fi would soon get better and faster. This is important, as the technology is the work-horse of home networking.
As the former CEO of Atheros, a Wi-Fi chip company Qualcomm purchased this year, Barratt is a big believer in Wi-Fi. It’s not only a convenient means to offload cellular data traffic and helping consumers avoid depleting their precious mobile megabytes, but it’s also increasingly important inside home networks for delivering media such as music and movies to more devices like smartphones, tablets, Roku boxes and even alarm clocks.
But streaming HD movies requires more bandwidth than some networks can handle, and as picture quality improves bandwidth requirements will escalate. At that point home networks already carrying Skype calls, web traffic and multiple movie streams may grind to a halt. Enter Wi-Fi 802.11ac, which will only operate in the 5 GHz spectrum and can deliver gigabit speeds. It will also ship with Wi-Fi Direct peer-to-peer technology and be backwards compatible with existing Wi-Fi devices.
As I point out in the video below, the main thing that mars the excitement of this advance is that my home network doesn’t deliver gigabit or even 100 Mbps speeds, which means I won’t actually need a new 802.11ac router anytime soon.