Quantenna readies a 10 Gbps Wi-Fi chip that could supercharge home networking

Quantenna Communications has already made its mark in the evolving gigabit Wi-Fi market by getting its 802.11ac technology into world’s fastest commercial Wi-Fi access point, but now it’s preparing to raise the bar again. The wireless networking specialist is preparing a Wi-Fi chipset that can support 10 Gbps of capacity by using a boatload of antennas.

That’s eight antennas, to be exact. Quantenna is pushing the limits of the next wave of the 802.11ac networking standard. Wave 2’s multi-user multiple input-multiple output (MU-MIMO) technology also went into Asus’s new 1.7 Gbps router, but Quantenna’s next-generation chip will double the amount of spatial streams used to transmit data from four to eight as well as use several other techniques to boost capacity more than four-fold, Quantenna said.

I wrote capacity, not speed, because no consumer device has — nor likely will ever will have — the eight-antenna configuration necessary to grab every spatial stream transmitted by such a router. Also, a lot of 802.11ac’s promised power depends on your router being able to tap vast swaths of unlicensed airwaves, which aren’t available in all places. (In the U.S., though, the government is starting to open up more spectrum for Wi-Fi.)

Source: Shutterstock / iconmonstr
Source: Shutterstock / iconmonstr

But Wave 2 differs from the first wave of 802.11ac in that it can send these different data streams to different devices simultaneously, meaning you could connect multiple devices to the network in a combination of sub-gigabit and multigigabit speeds without experiencing any kind of congestion. That’s actually the much more impressive feat.

A 1 Gbps connection to any consumer device is overkill these days — to say nothing of 10 Gbps — and any internet use-case for such raw speeds would be limited by the speed of your ISP’s broadband pipe. But an extremely high-capacity wireless router would allow for some interesting local-area networking scenarios in your home. Imagine being able to stream multiple 4K movies to different TVs simultaneously from a home media hub while instantaneously transferring your entire digital music library from your laptop to your tablet.

Quantenna said it plans to have its first 10G chipsets available to equipment makers in 2015.