Internet service providers are feeling the heat after Qualcomm announced April 3 that it is planning new technology that could generate three times the Wi-Fi speed now available in homes, a move that could threaten the current make-up of Internet service.
The new technology, which Qualcomm said would group wireless devices such as tablets and smartphones into groups of two or three in a home, delivers digital speeds to those devices together as opposed to the first-come-first-served model that currently exists.
This means that if users have multiple wireless devices connected to the same Wi-Fi service, networks cycle through each device independently. This generates an Internet hookup for all devices, but slows the speed for everyone connected to the same network.
Think of a café where dozens of computers are connected. Each time a user clicks a link, the network goes directly to that search, but then moves almost instantaneously to another user on another device. With Qualcomm's ambitious new algorithms, using hi-tech mathematics, devices can be grouped together to create smaller, unique networks that enable speeds to be maintained.
It could revolutionize current Wi-Fi networking at work, at home and in public spaces, Qualcomm said. And experts tend to agree, although they were adamant that continued research and investigation into the new idea needs time.
Qualcomm said in a press release that the new technology will be made available sometime in 2015. Already, leading ISPs are concerned.
An official at ComCast in the San Francisco Bay Area told Tech Times that "if this is successful, it is something that we all will have to come to use because customers will demand the best and fastest Internet available."
In many ways, it could be a game changer. Current slow speeds could be a thing of the past.
"On a network like this, streaming or video chatting can be like sitting in the driver's seat at rush hour: you'll get to your destination, but it's going to take some time," Qualcomm said.
The technology is known as MU-MIMO, which stands for "multi-user, multiple input, multiple output."
The MU-MIMO-enabled chips will be sold to manufacturers of wireless routers and other Internet access points, which could then be sold to makers of smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices. It would increase speeds dramatically and noticeably for private homes, the company added.
ComCast believes that the move could revolutionize ISP options for users and enable for more usability. Todd Antes, Qualcomm's VP of product management, agrees.
"In North America, we're getting close to double-digit numbers of wireless devices in a home," Antes said. "There could be 20 of them by the end of the decade." The total market for consumer, retail and office routers, he said, was over 200 million devices. The workplace ones are more valuable, since they do more.
With Internet speeds increasing exponentially in recent years and as more individuals acquire smartphones and other wireless technology, increasing speed is a natural process and one that Qualcomm believes will help to boost services at home and at the café.