If you’ve been following tech news, you’ve almost certainly heard of 5G, the next generation of wireless technology for cellular networks, but you may not know about 10G broadband, advertised at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about 10G – what it is, who’s developing it and when you can expect it to roll out.
The Basics of 10G
10G is a new piece of broadband network tech that will, theoretically, allow for greater than 10-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) speeds over cable internet networks. Ten Gbps is up to 10 times faster than 5G and more than 700 times faster than the average U.S. internet speed of around 18 Mbps.
Leading the 10G charge is CableLabs, whose new DOCSIS 4.0 standard may enable internet providers to offer 10-Gbps network speeds over existing cable systems.
10G is unrelated to 5G, the latest generation of wireless cell network technology that’s been slowly rolling out across America since last year. You also shouldn’t confuse 10G with 10GE, or 10Gb Ethernet, which is an Ethernet cable standard that provides up to 10-Gbps speeds.
The naming situation is confusing and has drawn a fair amount of ire from tech writers, some of whom believe the 10G branding to be mostly a response to the buzz around 5G.
In any case, 10G field trials should begin this year. If the technology is successful in allowing cable providers to increase the maximum internet speeds they can offer over existing high-quality fiber cable networks, you’re likely to hear more about it through the rest of 2020.
What’s Wi-Fi 6?
Also shown at CES 2020 was Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation Wi-Fi protocol that industry analysts predict will see widespread use soon.
Wi-Fi 6 is exciting because of its potential to solve one of the most significant current problems with Wi-Fi — how it can struggle to support multiple devices connecting to the same signal. This problem has become more notable in recent years as smartphones and smart devices have become more popular and the number of devices connecting to the same router or hotspot has multiplied.
A few big names in router manufacturing debuted Wi-Fi 6-capable routers at CES. The price points of these routers were, in general, comparable to or somewhat higher than current routers working with Wi-Fi 5. For example, Netgear debuted a two-pack of Wi-Fi 6 routers that will retail at around $230. Most quality routers available right now cost somewhere in the range of $100 to $200.
Some of the newest smartphones are also launching with Wi-Fi 6 certification, like the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy 10 series.
The change probably won’t be immediate, but it’s likely that, through 2020, we’re going to see a gradual adoption of Wi-Fi 6.
The Launch of 10G and Wi-Fi 6
Both 10G and Wi-Fi 6 received extensive coverage at CES 2020. Wi-Fi 6 is what sounds like a more standard upgrade to the previous version of the Wi-Fi standard, while new 10G connections should allow cable providers to increase the maximum internet speeds they can offer.
We’ll likely continue to hear a lot about both over this year as Wi-Fi 6-compatible routers become increasingly common and cable networks begin to trial the 10G tech.