Broadcom releases a 650Mbps chip to link smartphones to gigabit Wi-Fi networks

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A new generation of routers have emerged that promise unparalleled gigabit wireless speeds using new 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology. The problem is that our mobile devices — even the ones that boast 802.11ac radios — often can’t take full advantage of them.

Broadcom aims to change that with a new wireless chipset that will boost theoretical connection speeds from a smartphone or tablet to the Wi-Fi router to 650 Mbps. That may not be gigabit speed, but gigabit speed was always a bit of misnomer anyway — it’s more an indication of overall network capacity rather than how quickly any given device could connect to the network.

The BC4358 is actually Broadcom’s second smartphone Wi-Fi chipset to utilize 2×2 MIMO (short for multiple input-multiple output), meaning it can simultaneously tap two of the radio streams emanating from the many antennas on your router. Most smartphones only utilize a single Wi-Fi antenna limiting their overall throughput.

Broadcom has tweaked this second generation chip for greater capacity, but the most appealing feature for device makers will likely be its ability to simultaneously support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transmissions, something its predecessor can’t do.

Broadcom says the new chip will begin shipping in smartphones this quarter. Of course, figuring out what to do with a 500-plus Mbps Wi-Fi connection when you only have a 50 Mbps home broadband connection is your problem.

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