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Coming soon? It all depends on what you mean by soon. There are times when the future seems to get here faster than our ability to adapt. And other times the future’s arrival is excruciatingly slow. I’ve been on the public internet since the early 1990s and the pace of change mirrors my statement above. It’s rapid and slow at the same time.

For example, I worked at a local ISP which had 5,000 customers on dial-up, all sharing a T-1. That’s 1.5-megabits per second. Today, we have 100-megabits per second coming to our residence. Yet, at the same time, the public internet chugs along at about 15-megabits per second.

At the other end of the technology scale, the original iPhone was a marvel just a decade ago with a giant touchscreen and easy-to-navigate buttons and applications. Today’s iPhone is capable of blistering 4G LTE internet speeds, 4K video capture, high quality audio, a photos which rival entry-level DSLR’s. And download speeds which average less than the 15-megabit per second speeds most homes receive.

That brings up the difference between total capacity and actual usage, and the future vs. the present. Researchers in the Netherlands have created a wireless network using infrared rays which could be the future of Wi-Fi in homes. They’re harmless, easy to set up and install, and provide 100-times the fastest W-Fi signal; up to 40-gigabits per second.

The way it works is straightforward. Instead of sharing a traditional Wi-Fi signal, the infrared signal follows the device and delivers all the bandwidth to each device; no sharing on each infrared signal. The light’s wavelengths make data capacity far greater. For downloads.

Therein lies yet another technological rub. Infrared Wi-Fi is fast at downloads, slow at uploads. And it still doesn’t account for how slow the public internet remains, although 5G mobile standards may change that forever.

Many such technological advances are slow to market because there’s a gotcha already present, and infrastructure isn’t keen to allow in something new, even if better, because it’s not economically feasible.

A home internet Wi-Fi system that is faster than the internet connection still gets bottlenecked at the door. Faster home Wi-Fi won’t change that. For example, our home router and most of our devices can handle a few hundred megabits per second downloads, but only reaches such speeds during tests, not during real world usage, and the ISP only provides 100-megabits per second anyway.

Technology for the masses moves forward in fits and starts. For example, under developed countries often cannot afford the infrastructure required for telephone land lines, and expensive cable television and internet connections, but can have rapid mass adoption of cell phone towers which are less expensive to set up and expand.

Infrared Wi-Fi looks like a great idea, but it has both an infrastructure problem and an upload speed problem to solve. Don’t be surprised if another solution comes along before the infrared Wi-Fi system makes it to market.

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