Broadcom’s new Wi-Fi chip turns your phone into an IoT hub

At Mobile World Congress, Broadcom released a new chipset designed to bring Wi-Fi’s speediest technology, 802.11ac, into smartphones. What makes this particular chipset stand out is that it’s able to support simultaneous connections over both of Wi-Fi’s bands (2.4 and 5 GHz).

Simultaneous dual band has become fairly common in high-end routers, but it’s never really made its way into mobile devices because it requires two Wi-Fi antennas to maintain dual connections. But [company]Broadcom[/company] has also been paving the way for dual-antenna, or MIMO, technology in high-end handsets.

Broadcom’s press release played up the fact that accessing two networks at the same time would produce some pretty big boosts in speeds for heavy bandwidth consumers. But when I spoke with David Recker, Broadcom senior director for wireless connectivity, he pointed that there’s an even bigger implication here. This new modem will help change the role of the smartphone in the wireless network from that of a mere client to that of a network controlling hub.

While our phones can use Wi-Fi to connect directly to other devices such as wearables or home appliances, they can’t do so while maintaining their own uninterrupted connection to a Wi-Fi router. This will solve that problem, which is becoming increasingly bigger as smartphones insert themselves into the internet of things. For instance, you could use your phone to download a video from a Wi-Fi network and simultaneously stream it to your TV. Or you could use a smartwatch connected by Wi-Fi Direct to your phone to check email, while listening to music streamed over the Wi-Fi network.