802.11ac is one of the most exciting new technologies to launch this year, not only providing for much improved bandwidth over the existing 802.11n standard, but also including technologies like MU-MIMO and beamforming to make connections more reliable and to ensure less interference than current networks.
We’ve seen a few products announced to date by Buffalo, Asus and Cisco, and have been playing with Netgear’s router in the labs. But it wasn’t until today, and the latest router announcement from Asus, that we saw the awful term that Broadcom is pushing to brand 802.11ac – 5G WiFi.
This isn’t a new term, it turns out Broadcom has been pushing it for a while, and even running the 5gwifi.org website. But thankfully companies like Netgear haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, instead focusing on the 802.11ac nomenclature with its products (we couldn’t find a single use of 5G on the packaging or materials included with its 802.11ac router).
5G refers to the fact that 802.11ac is the fifth generation of WiFi standards. In an interview with Digitimes back in June Broadcom senior VP Michael Hurlston explained that the 5G WiFi term is being used as “a branding issue to compare advancements being made in the cellular wireless space with the WiFi space”.
While it is easy to understand why Broadcom wants to celebrate its technology (it is the only supplier of 802.11ac chips at the moment and a major driver of the standard) the worry we have is that all the 5G term does is confuse consumers who will end up making Apples-to-Oranges comparisons between devices.
The major issue is that the generational branding is so commonly used for mobile networks that the two will end up rendering each other meaningless. If Broadcom has its way we’ll eventually see 4G phones with 5G WiFi technology, or 5G WiFi 3G routers. Here’s hoping that common sense prevails and we’ll see the 802.11ac moniker emerge triumphant from the battle.