Rich Warren | 2021 looks promising for Wi-Fi, phones – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

As a senior in high school, I wrote a paper concerning why pay TV would never succeed.

Of course, a cup of coffee was a quarter, GM sold more cars than all Japanese and German car companies put together, and Tesla was a coil in the science lab that shot ersatz lightning.

Oh, and the Sunday newspaper was as thick as a phone book.

While perusing the TV listings, I noticed that most, if not all, of the holiday special favorite shows and movies migrated to pay TV.

Gone are the days you could view them on ABC, CBS and NBC.

To add insult to injury, PBS spends most of early December fundraising with the same recycled programming.

My teacher gave me an “A” on that paper. He should have awarded me an “F.”

On the subject of “fun with statistics,” November brought stories about lithium car batteries igniting, specifically in five Chevy Bolts, although a few Tesla vehicles also have gone up in smoke.

This is serious, but remember, if you drive a car with an internal combustion engine, you sit above a gasoline bomb.

About one in 12 million lithium batteries ignite. For comparison’s sake, most experts claim you have a one in six million chance of dying in a commercial air crash.

(This figure varies depending upon time period and domestic or international. It can range from one in three million to one in 12 million.)

You have a one in 292 million chance of winning the jackpot in the Powerball lottery.

So while one in 12 million flaming lithium batteries is one too many, it’s not something to lose sleep over.

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My prediction is that when most vehicles are battery powered, the incidence of fires will be lower in percentage than currently experienced with gasoline engines.

A few months ago, this column extolled the virtues of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard.

It provides increased bandwidth with much greater speed and enhanced versatility.

Don’t buy a Wi-Fi 6 router yet. In a surprise move, the FCC further updated the standard to Wi-Fi 6E.

The commission reclaimed unused bandwidth from automakers who were supposed to have used it so that cars could communicate with each other and gave it to Wi-Fi.

Don’’t cry for the automakers, they have access to alternate bandwidth for a much better system than originally proposed.

Manufacturers easily will update routers and Wi-Fi products to benefit from Wi-Fi 6E, but it is uncertain whether existing Wi-Fi 6 products can be updated with internet-distributed firmware upgrades.

Similarly, avoid replacing your Android smartphone with a 5G model until next spring.

Qualcomm manufactures nearly all of the processor and modem chips for Android phones.

Last year at this time, Qualcomm rushed its kludged Snapdragon 865 family of chips to enable 5G on phones.

These inefficient chips required slightly larger phones and reduced battery life, with some performance compromises as well, because the modem was a separate chip from the main processor.

At the beginning of this month, Qualcomm formally introduced the Snapdragon 888, the first efficient, high-performance true 5G chip.

Smartphones built around this chip will surpass existing 5G phones based on the 865 family.

Qualcomm promises improved battery life, better camera integration and overall better performance.

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Normally, the successor to the 865 would have been the 875, but pundits claim that “eight is a lucky number in China.

Qualcomm hopes to sell a lot of these 888 chips to Chinese phone manufacturers.

Well-known companies such as OnePlus, Motorola and Lenovo, as well as Korean LG, among a slew of lesser-known Chinese names, announced intentions to quickly use the chip.

Samsung probably will join the crowd, although it also makes its own chips.

Normally, each year brings incremental advances. In the case of Wi-Fi and Android 5G phones, 2021 promises major advances worth the wait. Happy New Year!



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