Mobile

Quantenna promises to make Wi-Fi almost six times faster with new wireless chips

Above: Quantenna will make WiFi almost six times faster.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Quantenna Communications said it will be able to make Wi-Fi networks run almost six times faster with its latest generation of wireless chips. For consumers, that means you’ll be able to get into the Internet fast lane much more easily with your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

At 10 gigabits a second, Quantenna-based 10G Wi-Fi networks could operate faster than many wired connections, particularly those based on phone lines and dubbed DSL (digital subscriber lines). It will make the Internet work faster in homes, small businesses, enterprises, and public spaces.

The company said it is developing the world’s first 10G Wi-Fi chip set for a new generation of access points with better performance, range, and stability.

Quantenna said it can do this by transmitting data to multiple users at the same time. The company refers to the technology as “massive MIMO,” as it is based on multiple input multiple output technology. That means it uses multiple antennae to increase the data capacity of a network dramatically — up to a total of 10 gigabits a second.

Earlier this year, Fremont, Calif.-based Quantenna announced that it would supply chips for Wi-Fi routers that could handle data up to 1.7 gigabits a second, or multiple times faster than typical 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networks. Quantenna is shipping those chips during 2014 for gadget makers such as Asus. The new massive MIMO chips will be ready in 2015. The speeds promised are on top of what users could gain as the Federal Communications Commission adds new wireless spectrum to improve Wi-Fi speeds.

“We’ve made 4×4 MU-MIMO a reality, but we can’t stop there,” said Sam Heidari, CEO, Quantenna Communications. “The demand for reliable, high-performance Wi-Fi will only increase. The number of Wi-Fi enabled devices in the home is growing faster than anyone predicted. Outdoor applications like carrier Wi-Fi, mobile offload, and broadband delivery are quickly emerging. Wi-Fi has to keep up. That’s where 10G Wi-Fi comes in. Wi-Fi is no longer a convenience. People expect it to ‘just work’ even with demanding applications like HD video streaming. With Quantenna’s 10G Wi-Fi, they’ll always get the performance they expect — even as their expectations continue to rise.”

Those earlier 1.7 gigabit designs are based on Quantenna’s QSR1000 4X4 MIMO chip set. Quantenna’s chips are designed to make it possible for users to fling high-definition video around the home without worrying about bogging down the network. At 1.7 gigabits a second, the router can transfer data about three times faster than the typical 600 megabits a second for previous-generation 802.11n router chips. At 10 gigabits a second, the Wi-Fi networks could be faster than many wired networks.

The MIMO technique lets Quantenna cram more data into a wireless network by taking advantage of noise (via beamforming) that would normally cause interference.

Quantenna’s designs are based on 802.11ac and support all of the optional modes including 8×8 MIMO, 160-megahertz bandwidth, MU-MIMO, and more.

Quantenna was founded in 2006 and has raised $159 million, with funding from Sequoia Capital, Venrock, Sigma Partners, Southern Cross Venture Partners, DAG Ventures, Rusnano, Swisscom Ventures, Grazia Equity, and Telefónica Digital. Rivals include Qualcomm-Atheros, Broadcom, and Marvell. Those companies are all much bigger than Quantenna, but its focus on high-end technology has helped it.

“Quantenna’s 8×8 architecture with adaptive beamforming demonstrates that the ‘massive MIMO’ promise of significantly higher throughput, robustness, and reduced interference can be realized in practice,” said Andrea Goldsmith, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University. “This architecture will also significantly enhance the capabilities of MU-MIMO, allowing it to support interference-free transmission to many more devices simultaneously. These technology advances will transform the landscape of applications and devices that Wi-Fi can support.”

Quantenna has deals in place with Texas Instruments, which will use Quantenna technology in LTE basestations; STMicro, which will use Quantenna tech in a wide range of system-on-chip solutions; and Mimosa, which will provide outdoor wireless Internet access. Service providers using Quantenna include AT&T, DirecTV, Swisscom, Telefonica, France Telecom, and Belgacom.

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