Why your next smartphone could have better Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is now a staple in today’s smartphones, but it’s expected to get even better in handsets as soon as next year. The new 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, or 5th generation of Wi-Fi, is still in the works, but companies such as Broadcom already have supporting products available. This “5G Wi-Fi” offers improved power efficiency and speeds faster than 802.11n Wi-Fi, and it could be your smartphone’s new best friend.

The new Wi-Fi standard boosts wireless speeds three times over the current 802.11n radios — 433 Mbps per antenna — while also improving power efficiency up to six times, according to Broadcom(s bcom). The company released its first 5G Wi-Fi chips last month at the Consumer Electronics Show. Benefits come in two forms: beamforming, which can steer signals toward a target, and a doubling of bandwidth per channel over today’s wireless technology, from 40 to 80 MHz.

Scott Bibaud, former EVP & FM, Mobile Platforms, at Broadcom, offers this additional explanation of the benefits 802.11ac will bring to all devices, and why carriers would be interested in getting this new Wi-Fi into handsets:

As cellular data plans slowly disappear and more wireless hotspots appear, smartphone owners are relying on Wi-Fi as a free or low-cost option. Carriers, too, have been building up their Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities in order to offload traffic from costly cellular networks. If consumers can get a more efficient, faster Wi-Fi radio that can help save on battery life, I’d say it’s a win all around.