The Wi-Fi Alliance started in 2020, a new name for Wi-Fi devices that are equipped for operation in the 6 GHz band. Broadcom introduced soon after Now the company is taking the next step and announcing the first mobile Wi-Fi 6E chip, the Broadcom BCM4389.
The goal? Bring this chip to the next generation of smartphones to ensure that they can take advantage of this additional spectrum.
Although it doesn't work as well at some distance as the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands used by current generation Wi-Fi devices, the 6 GHz band offers a much wider frequency range – 1200 MHz in Compared to 500 MHz in the 5 GHz band. That is enough for seven separate 160 MHz channels, each of which offers plenty of space to transmit a lot of data at the fastest possible speed.
This makes Wi-Fi 6E an exclusive, multi-lane expressway for next-generation Wi-Fi devices that could ultimately pave the way for a new generation of band-intensive, short-range use cases such as augmented reality and high-speed tethering. However, the standard is unlikely to be widely disseminated until 2021 at the earliest – and only if the FCC decides to open the 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi use. However, this is a move that FCC chairman Ajit Pai has signaled that he supports.
"Studies have shown that it is feasible to share this band with unlicensed companies and that enormous amounts of new spectrum can be put in the hands of consumers," Pai said last year. The industry is still waiting for the official green light, but Broadcom seems to think that this is far from certain at the moment.
"We are banking heavily on this," said Vijay Nagarajan, vice president of marketing for the Broadcom wireless communications and connectivity department. "We are very, very hopeful and confident that the FCC rules and regulations will take effect in the coming months."
According to Broadcom, the chip itself has three radios – one with support for two Wi-Fi 6E streams, one with support for Bluetooth 5 and a third radio with extremely low power consumption, with which the chip's performance is to be optimized Scan for optimal networks and support with location accuracy. Broadcom claims that all of this results in better battery usage, faster Bluetooth pairing, and doubling the speed of current-generation Wi-Fi 5 connections at half the latency.
It will take some time before such benefits are commercially available to consumers, but Nagarajan informs CNET that plans are already in place to integrate the chip into several upcoming mobile devices. We'll be on the lookout for more news in this area – at the moment we're taking a closer look at what the new chip can do.
Broadcom BCM4389 Combo Chip: Important Specifications
- Support for 2 streams of Wi-Fi 6E
- Multi-Radio Bluetooth 5 with antenna beam shaping
- Tri-band simultaneous (TBS) architecture with a dedicated background scan radio
- Simultaneous dual-band operation
- 2.63 Gbps PHY rate
- Operation in the unlicensed band with 2.4 GHz and 5.1 to 7.125 GHz
- 160 MHz channel bandwidth
- 1024 QAM modulation