Broadcom today announced a new wireless networking standard called 802.11ac. They’re calling it fifth generation and plastering the 5g moniker on it. This should cause a lot of strife and confusion in the wireless space, as this is 5g Wi-fi, not 5g cellular.
The new standard, expected to be ratified by the IEEE by the end of 2012, should bring practical speeds of around 40-60 megabytes/second over air (with a peak theoretical bandwidth of 1.3 gb/s in their tri-channel, top-end offering). It will use PCI-E, be fully backwards compatible, and is built on a 40nm process.
The offerings come in three flavors:
BCM4360 supports the PCIe interface and implements 3-stream 802.11ac specifications, and reaches speeds up to 1.3 Gbps.
BCM4352 and BCM43526 implement 2-stream 802.11ac specification to reach up to 867 Mbps. BCM4352 supports PCIe interface; BCM43526 supports the USB interface.
BCM43516 supports USB and reaches speeds of up to 433 Mbps with its single stream 802.11ac implementation.
The lame 5G moniker aside, this looks like an exciting leap forward in Wi-fi technology. It will be shown at CES next week as well.