High-speed Wi-Fi specialist Quantenna Communications has found a willing advocate for its new Wi-Fi superchip technology. Semiconductor giant STMicroelectronics has signed a licensing agreement with Quantenna to incorporate its multi-gigabit 802.11ac designs into future chips. The companies said the first products from the collaboration would come out next year.
While multiple 802.11ac devices and routers have recently hit the market, Quantenna is delving deeper into the 802.11ac standard, using multiple input-multiple output (MIMO) smart antennas to deliver four parallel streams of data over the same frequencies while aggregating both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies to create connections as fast as 2 Gbps.
The company already sells its 802.11n chips to router makers like Netgear, but the deal with STMicro could expose its technology to a broader range of devices beyond home and business wireless routers. STMicro sells processors and communications chips to the many industries including automotive, entertainment and security markets. Through its joint venture with Ericsson, it also makes integrated silicon for mobile handsets.
The focus on multi-gigabit Wi-Fi might seem a bit ridiculous given that the typical home broadband connection could never match such speeds, but there are plenty of signs that such high-capacity networks will be necessary. As home networks become more complex and sophisticated, smart TVs and entertainment hubs will be pushing big video files around the house, which will require workhorse local area networks.
And while gigabit broadband connections are only just emerging in the U.S. households, public Wi-Fi hotspots using high-speed backhaul links are gaining popularity among carriers, municipalities and other service providers. Such shared public connections could allow hundreds of people to access the same Wi-Fi nodes, taking the data load off cellular networks.