Speedier 5.4-Gigabit Wi-Fi routers coming this year

Get ready for faster Wi-Fi routers.

routers lead image

It seems like I was only just writing about the new, up-to-3.2 Gbps Wi-Fi routers, such as the drone look-alike D-Link DIR-890L.

In fact, it was all of six-months ago, in my post, "Is it time to move to beamforming 802.11ac?"

Well, that generation of wireless networking gear using beamforming and combining multiple bands, is about to be superseded. Microprocessor-maker Broadcom has launched new 5.4 Gbps-capable chips that will appear in routers later this year.

Its new router platform, called 8-stream 5G Wi-Fi XStream MU-MIMO, will allow for faster and more robust Wi-Fi.


When they're all running at once, smartphones, TV streaming devices, and gaming consoles are placing extreme demands on the wireless router. Broadcom's new router chips promise faster CPU processing, multiple radios, and an eight-stream capacity in the 5 GHz band.

Broadcom claims its new router platform will address "home networking demands driven by Ultra HD and the Internet of Things."


The 8-Stream MU-MIMO "delivers a 60 percent boost in speed over today's fastest routers," Broadcom says.

MU-MIMO, or Multi-user MIMO, lets the router send data to more than one client device at the same time.

The company says that its platform will power new routers available in Q3 2015, but it did not say from which router manufacturers.

Broadcom chips are prevalent in wireless routers now, however.

A Broadcom chip powers the 3.2-Gbps D-Link DIR-890L and ASUS RT-3200, as well as the other AC3200-class routers.

Feature set

Designed for homes, the router platform combines bands as previous 802.11ac platforms do.

However, the processor is faster and has been upped to a five-core with 3.8 GHz of CPU speed.

The existing and latest available D-Link DIR-890L, for example, provides for just 1 GHz of CPU speed with a dual-core processor.

Frequency selection is "zero-wait," Broadcom says. This DFS, or dynamic frequency selection, should enable better use of "cleaner 5GHz Wi-Fi channels, resulting in faster downloads, higher-quality Ultra HD streams, and ability to connect to more devices" at once.


Software automatically makes sure that 802.11ac devices on the network are not sharing airspace with slower, older Wi-Fi devices.

We started to see this kind of thing in the last generation. Some routers would select the SSID—the name and band of the wireless network—for the device. There's no band or name guessing by the casual user.

As one might expect, there are a bunch of other new features too. You can read more detail about the platform here.

'Should I wait?'

So what's the bottom line? Should you wait for these new wireless routers or buy one of the 3.2-Gbps powerhouses available today, such as the D-Link DIR-890L or the ASUS RT-AC3200?

My advice always has been, and always will be, never wait for technology. Buy what you want now, because you never really know when or if products will ever be released, in what quantities, and at what price.

And by making-do with obsolete gear, possibly indefinitely, you miss out on the immediate benefits of what is actually out there. In this case the AC3200-class of routers is better than older gear if you're using newer 5 GHz-capable devices, like smartphones.

Eat now

I draw the analogy with eating and air travel. Always eat whenever you see food while traveling—no matter how stuffed or not-hungry you are. You never know when you're going to eat again.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10