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Next Generation WiFI: What You’ll Need

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Last week,we wrote about the potential of 5G Wireless technology. This is the next generation internet standard, 4G LTE being the most advanced WiFi service in the U.S. now.  Future WiFi systems are expected to deliver download speeds thirty to fifty times as fast as current 4G LTE, with latency at or near a microscopic single millisecond, energy consumption reduced by 90%, advanced traffic prioritization, and  capacity increased about a thousandfold.

According to the research teams working on 5G WiFi,  we can expect to see the next generation WiFi networks in 2020. Verizon Wireless, though, claims to have conducted small-scale tests on a 5G system, and says it expects to offer 5G WiFi service nationwide by 2017. This might be overly optimistic. We’ll see.

As promising as 5G WiFi technology seems to be, a few things will have to happen before we can use it. We will need the following:

  • NEW NETWORKS:   Almost all of the UHF spectrum in urban areas, the ‘beachfront property’ of the electromagnetic spectrum, is already committed. Developing faster and bigger data networks will require exploring other bands. The millimeter wave band, 50 to 300 gigahertz (Ghz) is promising, but it has very limited range. The short range confers certain advantages, such as resistance to interference and hacking, but high-gain directional antennae will be necessary to make it practical for consistent data transfer. Also, the circuitry available now doesn’t work well with millimeter-wave frequencies. New circuits, made of new materials, will be necessary.
  • REGULATORY APPROVAL:   For next generation WiFi to work, the FCC will probably have to update its protocols for data transmission, to keep rival networks from encroaching on one another’s signals.
  • NEW DEVICES:   For 5G wireless service, you’ll need a new computer, tablet or smartphone. Devices on the market now aren’t built to handle 5G WiFi.
  •  MORE CAPACITY:   If your next internet service is thirty times to fifty times as fast as what you have now, with dramatically reduced latency, then you’re likely to use much more data. This might not be a problem IF the more optimistic predictions of an explosion in network capacity are correct. It’s far from certain, though, that such predictions are realistic.

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