Latest Qualcomm WiFi Chips Could Rival 5G Speeds, with One Catch
Qualcomm has a new family of WiFi chipsets that could increase the speed of wireless connectivity in laptops, phones, and more, as much as tenfold. The 802.11ay standard, which is different from the soon-to-be-rebranded WiFi 6 standard we recently detailed, operates in the 60GHz range, which would allow it to rival speeds realized by forthcoming 5G technology.
But there’s one major hitch in the plan to make this the new standard for in-home wireless internet connections. The 802.11ay standard operates on millimeter wave radio, which means that, yes, it’s really fast, but it’s also incredibly limited (for now) in its ability to penetrate through walls. That means you’d have a really difficult time trying to get this type of connection to offer reliable WiFi in a one-bedroom apartment, let alone an entire abode.
So, rather than us seeing 802.11ay launch in routers and the like, what we’ll instead see is this level of WiFi be made available in things like virtual reality headsets.
These latest Qualcomm chips are an upgrade over an existing 802.11ad standard that’s been around for a few years and helped develop the wireless technology known as WiGig. That standard can realize speeds of around 5 gigabits per second over a 10-meter range, according to Qualcomm. The upgraded 11ay standard will see those speeds jump to more than 10 gigabits per second with wire-equivalent latency, while extending the range to some 100 meters. That range, though impressive, really requires an almost direct line of sight between the product and the network source in order for it to be effective.
“mmWave holds enormous potential to support a new class of user experiences,” Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, connectivity and networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., said in a statement. “Our 11ay solutions were developed with the flexibility to support a broad ecosystem of smartphone, router or fixed wireless access platforms and provides the industry with the critical building blocks needed to take connectivity performance to the next level.”
At the end of the day, this is really a set of standards and chipsets that will appeal to the gamer community. WiGig and the new 802.11ay standard will certainly allow the VR experience to advance both on the software and hardware side of things.