The fu­ture of wire­less

We want our net­works to be fast, re­li­able and avail­able in ever more de­vices, but can tech­nol­ogy keep up? Let’s look into our crystal ball…

Mac Format - - WIFI SECRETS -

As wire­less tech be­comes faster and more read­ily avail­able, we’re find­ing a grow­ing num­ber of uses for it, from be­ing able to shut­tle 4K video around our homes to con­trol­ling our heat­ing, light­ing and more.

Thanks to ini­tia­tives like the In­ter­net of Things, even more of the de­vices we use ev­ery day, from cook­ers to vac­uum clean­ers, will be­come con­nected, so our hunger for band­width is only go­ing to grow.

The prob­lem is we may be al­ready get­ting close to choke point. The Wi-Fi Al­liance pre­dicts there’ll be 38.5 bil­lion con­nected de­vices by 2020. Providers in the US, at least, have al­ready be­gun ring­ing the alarm bells about the lack of avail­able ra­dio spec­trum. Luck­ily there are a few tech­nolo­gies on the near hori­zon that will be able to meet this chal­lenge head on.

The first is 5G mo­bile tech­nol­ogy. Cur­rently un­der­go­ing tri­als, this prom­ises min­i­mum data trans­fer rates of 50Mbps wher­ever you are, and up to 1Gbps in places like homes and of­fices. The Next Gen­er­a­tion Mo­bile Net­works Al­liance (ngmn.org) has al­ready pro­duced a white pa­per on the sub­ject – with the aim be­ing to im­ple­ments the tech­nolo­gies for 2020 on­wards.

See the light

Then there’s 802.11ah, also known as Wi-Fi HaLow. It’s a low-power Wi-Fi stan­dard, which aims to use the largely un­tapped 900MHz band and is per­fect for all those In­ter­net of Things ap­pli­ances.

An­other in­ter­est­ing tech­nol­ogy is Light Fi­delity (Li-Fi), which uses vis­i­ble light to trans­mit data. Li-Fi is more se­cure than Wi-Fi and up to 100 times faster. Ru­mours sug­gest Li-Fi could be com­ing to fu­ture iPhones. Ap­ple has al­ready patented tech­nol­ogy that will al­low its cam­eras to cap­ture light data, and ref­er­ences to Li-Fi have al­ready been found in iOS.

An iOS jail­breaker re­vealed ref­er­ences to Li-Fi in Ap­ple’s mo­bile OS, could it join tra­di­tional Wi-Fi soon?

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