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Broadcom launches line of 5G chips

The Irvine-based technology firm has developed a product line based on next-generation wireless

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: January 11, 2012 02:05 PM

Broadcom made a splash at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, unveiling a new family of chips based on the 5th generation of WiFi. The 802.11ac engineering standard is the fifth generation of wireless-data exchange and a major advance over existing networks.

The new 802.11ac product line is expected to be up to three times faster and six times more power efficient than current 802.11n 4G WiFi networks. 5G WiFi will dramatically improve wireless range and speed, allowing users to download Web content faster, sync large files and watch HD-quality video from more devices, in more locations, simultaneously. Some high-speed 802.11ac technology will achieve data transmission speeds faster than 1 gigabits per second.

Michael Hurlston, senior vice president of Broadcom’s Mobile & Wireless Group, said the company is leading the way toward the future of the wireless industry.

"The exponential growth of digital media and wirelessly connected devices requires faster and more reliable ways to connect anytime, anywhere. 5G WiFi solves this media explosion challenge. Broadcom's vast footprint in consumer electronics devices uniquely positions us to lead the transition to the next generation of WiFi."

Representatives from Broadcom say that over the next three to four years, nearly all WiFi devices and products will be built to the 802.11ac 5G wireless standard, just as they currently meet 4G wireless standards today. Technology industry reports indicate that digital content consumption is on the rises, with video content at the top of the list of consumer traffic. Video content is expected to reach 90 percent of global consumer traffic by 2015, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Forecast.

Mark Hung, research director for wireless at Gartner Research, said that 802.11ac will be one of the most influential mobile and wireless technologies in the years to come.

"WiFi-enabled devices will grow from less than 1 billion units in 2010 to more than 3 billion in 2015 [according to market trend and future growth studies performed by Gartner Research],” Hung said. “Given the current constraints of legacy 802.11 standards and the increased speed, capacity, coverage and battery life that 802.11ac offers, this next generation of WiFi is poised for rapid growth across all product segments.”

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