South Korean electronics giant Samsung said it has developed Wi-Fi technology that will enable data transmission speeds up to five times faster than is available on current devices. It plans to use the technology in a new range of products that could be ready for market as early as next year.
The faster Wi-Fi technology enables data transmission speeds of up to 4.6 GB per second, compared to the 866 MB per second maximum speed for existing consumer electronics devices, according to Samsung. At that increased speed, a 1 GB movie would take less than three seconds to transfer between devices, the company said.
Samsung said it plans to use the new technology in new telecommunications, audio-visual and medical devices. The faster Wi-Fi will also enable new developments for its Samsung Smart Home and Internet of Things initiatives.
Circuit, Antenna Improvements
Standard Wi-Fi today uses radio waves at frequencies of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz for data transfers. Samsung said its new technology that operates at 60 GHz enables faster transfer speeds while eliminating co-channel interference, no matter how many devices might be using the same network.
Until now, one of the main barriers to 60 GHz Wi-Fi has been the higher frequency's poor penetration properties and dependence on lines of sight. That meant that signals in household use weakened quickly, especially when walls or other obstacles stood in the path of transmissions.
Samsung said it has overcome those limitations by using an improved, millimeter-wave circuit design, high-performance modem technologies and wide-coverage, beam-forming antenna technology. It also enhanced the signal quality by developing what it said is a first: micro-beam-forming control technology that can optimize communication module performance in less than 1/3000th of a second.
The timing of this development could be fortuitous for Samsung, which last week announced that its third-quarter profits were expected to drop by 60 percent compared to 2013. Industry analysts blamed much of the decline on an increasingly competitive smartphone market, with Apple threatening Samsung's position from the high end of the market and Chinese competitors like Huawei and Xiaomi creating challenges on the low end.
We reached out to Horace Dediu, founder of the analyst firm Asymco, to learn more about what it might take for Samsung to reverse that trend.
"Commoditization is largely unavoidable," Dediu told us. "The way to survive as a business is to ensure you create new businesses or solve new problems. One hope that springs eternal is that through a 'brand' a maker can ensure long-term margin survival . . . So the short answer is that Samsung needs to create new categories or businesses. The challenge for them is that they need to control the platform and service infrastructure. These are currently out of their control and I’m not quite sure how they can regain that control."
Time will tell whether the new 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology might deliver that for Samsung. Dediu, however, said that is not what the company needs.
"This is a sustaining improvement in a technology," he said. "What Samsung needs is a disruptive improvement. A disruptive improvement implies a new business model. Put another way, it means that Samsung needs to invent a new way of making money."