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Previous Blogs

December 5, 2017
Rethinking Software

November 28, 2017
Making Sense of Edge Computing

November 21, 2017
The Ridesharing Business Conundrum

November 14, 2017
Liberal Arts and Tech

November 7, 2017
Amazing Devices Enabled by Flexible Hybrid Electronics

October 31, 2017
Will the Future of Computing Emerge from the Fog?

October 24, 2017
Solving Multi-Device Dilemmas

October 17, 2017
Tech Inevitability Isn't Guaranteed

October 10, 2017
Edge Computing Could Weaken the Cloud

October 3, 2017
The Business Challenges of Artificial Intelligence

September 26, 2017
Microsoft Takes Computing to the Extremes

September 19, 2017
What is the Future of Upgrades?

September 12, 2017
It’s Time for Modern Digital Identities

September 5, 2017
The Autonomous Car Charade

August 29, 2017
The Golden Era of Notebooks

August 22, 2017
The Evolution of Smart Speakers

August 15, 2017
The Myth of General Purpose Wearables

August 8, 2017
IoT Connections Made Easy

August 1, 2017
Smarter Computing

July 25, 2017
The Value of Limits

July 18, 2017
Tech in the Heartland

June 27, 2017
Business Realities vs. Tech Dreams

June 20, 2017
The Power of Hidden Tech

June 13, 2017
Computing Evolves from Outside In to Inside Out

June 6, 2017
The Overlooked Surprises of Apple’s WWDC Keynote

May 30, 2017
Are AR and VR Only for Special Occasions?

May 23, 2017
The Digital Car

May 16, 2017
Digital Assistants Drive New Meta-Platform Battle

May 9, 2017
Getting Smart on Smart Speakers

May 5, 2017
Intel Opens High-Tech Automotive “Garage”

May 2, 2017
The Hidden Value of Analog

April 28, 2017
Google’s Waymo Starts Driving Passengers

April 25, 2017
The Robotic Future

April 21, 2017
Sony Debuts New Pro Camera

April 18, 2017
Should Apple Build a Car?

April 14, 2017
PC Market Outlook Improving

April 11, 2017
Little Data Analytics

April 7, 2017
Facebook Debuts Free Version of Workplace Collaboration Tool

April 4, 2017
Samsung Building a Platform Without an OS

March 31, 2017
Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Creators Update Release Date

March 28, 2017
Augmented Reality Finally Delivers on 3D Promise

March 24, 2017
Intel Creates AI Organization

March 21, 2017
Chip Magic

March 17, 2017
Microsoft Unveils Teams Chat App

March 14, 2017
Computing on the Edge

March 7, 2017
Cars Need Digital Safety Standards Too

February 28, 2017
The Messy Path to 5G

February 24, 2017
AMD Launches Ryzen CPU

February 21, 2017
Rethinking Wearable Computing

February 17, 2017
Samsung Heir Arrest Unlikely to Impact Sales

February 14, 2017
Modern Workplaces Still More Vision Than Reality

February 10, 2017
Lenovo Develops Energy-Efficient Soldering Technology

February 7, 2017
The Missing Map from Silicon Valley to Main Street

January 31, 2017
The Network vs. The Computer

January 27, 2017
Facebook Adds Support For FIDO Security Keys

January 24, 2017
Voice Drives New Software Paradigm

January 20, 2017
Tesla Cleared of Fault in NHTSA Crash Probe

January 17, 2017
Inside the Mind of a Hacker

January 13, 2017
PC Shipments Stumble but Turnaround is Closer

January 10, 2017
Takeaways from CES 2017

January 3, 2017
Top 10 Tech Predictions for 2017

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TECHnalysis Research Blogs
TECHnalysis Research founder Bob O'Donnell publishes commentary on current tech industry trends every Tuesday (along with occasional extras) at Techpinions.com and reprints those blog entries here. Those columns are also reprinted on re/code, Techspot, SeekingAlpha and LinkedIn and occasionally in Investing.com, Smarter Analyst and Indian Engineers.

He also writes a regular column in the Tech section of USAToday.com and those columns are posted here. Some of the USAToday columns are also published on partner sites, such as MSN. In addition, he also occasionally writes guest columns in various publications, including Fast Company and engadget. Those columns are reprinted here.

December 12, 2017
The Dawn of Gigabit Connectivity

By Bob O'Donnell

From cars to computers to connectivity, speed is an attractive quality to many people. I mean, who can’t appreciate devices or services that help you get things done more quickly?
While raw semiconductor chip performance has typically been—and still is—a critical enabler of fast tech devices, in many instances, it’s actually the speed of connectivity that determines their overall performance. This is especially true with the ongoing transition to cloud-based services.

The problem is, measuring connectivity speed isn’t a straightforward process. Sure, you can look for connectivity-related specs for your devices, or run online speed tests (like Speedtest.net), but very few really understand the former and, as anyone who has tried the latter knows, the results can vary widely, even throughout the course of a single day.

The simple truth is, for a lot of people, connectivity is black magic. Sure, most people have heard about different generations of cellular technology, such as 4G or the forthcoming 5G, and many even have some inkling of different WiFi standards (802.11n, 11ac,11ad, etc.). Understanding how or why your device feels fast doing a particular online task one day and on other days it doesn’t, however, well, that’s still a mystery.

Part of the reason for this confusion is that the underlying technology (and the terminology associated with it) is very complex. Wireless connectivity is a fundamentally difficult task that involves not only complex digital efforts from very sophisticated silicon components, but a layer of analog circuitry that’s tied to antennas and physical waveforms, as well as interactions with objects in the real world. Frankly, it’s amazing that it all works as well as it does.

Ironically, despite its complexity, connectivity is also something that we’ve started to take for granted, particularly in more advanced environments like the US and Western Europe. Instead of being grateful for having the kinds of speedy connections that are available to us, we’re annoyed when fast, reliable connectivity isn’t there.

As the result of all these factors, connectivity has been relegated to second-class status by many, overshadowed by talk of CPUs, GPUs, and other types of new semiconductor chip architectures. Modems, however, were arguably one of the first specialty accelerator chips, and play a more significant role than many realize. Similarly, WiFi controller chips offer significant connectivity benefits, but are typically seen as basic table stakes—not something upon which critical product distinctions or buying decisions are made.

People are starting to finally figure out how important connectivity is when it comes to their devices, however, and that’s starting to drive a different perspective around communications-focused components. One of the key driving factors for this is the evolution of wireless connectivity to speeds above 1 gigabit per second (1 Gbps). Just as the transition to 1 GHz processors was a key milestone in the evolution of CPUs, so too has the appearance of 1 Gbps wireless connectivity options enabled a new perspective on communications components such as modems and WiFi controllers.

Chipmaker Qualcomm was one of the first to talk about both Gigabit LTE for cellular broadband modems, as well as greater than 1 Gbps speeds for 802.11ac (in the 5 GHz band) and 802.11ad (in the distance-constrained 60 GHz band). Earlier this year, Qualcomm demonstrated Gigabit LTE in Australia with local Aussie carrier Telstra, and just last month, they showed offer similar technology here in the US with T-Mobile. In both cases, they were using a combination of Snapdragon 835-equipped phones—such as Samsung’s S8—which feature a Category 16 (Cat16) modem, and upgraded cellular telecom equipment from telecom equipment providers, such as Ericsson. The company also just unveiled their new Snapdragon 845 chip, expected to ship in smartphones in later 2018, that offers an even faster Cat18 modem, with maximum download speed of 1.2 Gbps.

In the case of both faster LTE and faster WiFi, communications component vendors like Qualcomm have to deploy a variety of sophisticated technologies, such as MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) transmission and antenna technologies, and 256 QAM data modulation (e.g., compression) schemes, among others.

The net result is extremely fast connection speeds that can (and likely will) have a dramatic impact on the types of cloud-based services that can be made available, as well as our quality of experience with them. There’s no denying that the technology behind these speedy connections is complicated, but with the dawn of the gigabit connectivity era, it’s time to at least acknowledge the impressive benefits these speedy connections provide.

Here's a link to the column: https://techpinions.com/the-dawn-of-gigabit-connectivity/51836

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

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