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The Real Story Behind Apple TV 4K Is Wi-Fi

0 | By Michael A. Robinson

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) scored big at its Sept. 12 event.

It unveiled “the future of the smartphone” with the iPhone X – and its OLED screen and 3D face-scanning tech.

Team Tim Cook also showed off the iPhone 8… and the iPhone 8 Plus.

Then there was the Apple Watch Series 3.

And the Apple TV 4K.

It was a lot to take in. For a rundown – and for what it could mean for your Apple shares, click here.

But while Wall Street had its blinders on while watching this Silicon Valley legend, I also was taking note of an equally important event held nearly simultaneously – but half a world away.

Japanese giant Sharp Corp. (OTC ADR: SHCAY) unveiled an 8K TV that could go on sale in Asia by the end of this year and in Europe and the United States in spring 2018.

So as Apple’s new set-top box marks the tipping point in mainstream adoption of 4K resolution, a format that’s four times as sharp as high definition, Sharp will be introducing us all to 8K.

Here’s the thing…

Sharp’s next-gen TV and Apple’s 4K service will both require much more bandwidth to support web streaming – all those Netflix shows and YouTube videos we watch. In other words, this is a one-two punch that shows why millions of us will need much better Wi-Fi in our homes.

Fortunately, there are three new Wi-Fi tech platforms in the works that could do just that.

Today I’ll review all three of them.

Plus, I’ll reveal the single best way to play the real story behind Apple TV 4K…

Breaking the Chokepoint

Now don’t think I’m suggesting you skip 4K and wait for the new 8K TV sets to hit the market. That’s a bad plan it’ll be super-expensive at first – and we won’t have much content in that format for several years to come.

The point I’m making here is that our high-def electronics require a huge amount of bandwidth to live up to their promise of dazzling displays. Simply stated, 4K has four times the resolution of standard hi-def, and 8K will be like having an Imax screen in your living room.

Moreover, these new televisions and streaming formats are just part of the bandwidth equation. Consider this…
While you’re streaming House of Cards in the den, you’re also fiddling with your smartphone, while your kids are using their laptops and tablets. And that’s not even considering the bandwidth that smart-home devices like security systems, lights. and thermostats need.

Each of these devices is a potential chokepoint. Fortunately, there are three Wi-Fi formats out there that promise to offer us much better web speeds.

Take a look a look…

Wi-Fi in the Gigabahn

If you need blazing speeds, the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) could be the answer. The trade alliance behind the new IEEE 802.11ad format will allow you to download a movie in seconds because its peak speed are roughly six times the highest bandwidth available today.

To be sure, this is not a “whole house” technology. WiGig uses a radio frequency that is much higher than today’s band, which means that streams won’t easily penetrate walls.

Besides UHDTV, this could be a boon for virtual reality. WiGig is so fast, you will be able to use VR headsets without cables, opening up a whole new level of immersion.

The one weakness of this system is its role as a universal format. Like I said, its radio waves do a poor job of going through walls and blanketing a whole home. But for video and VR, it’ll be hard to beat WiGig.

Wi-Fi Everywhere

Right now, your humble Wi-Fi router has to carry a heavy load. It must support multiple streamers across every nook and cranny of your home.

The job is made tougher by the fact that the average new U.S. home is 1,000 square feet larger than those built in 1973, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The solution is as brilliant as it is simple. In coming years, every electronic device that you buy will have its own Wi-Fi chips. And these devices, such as your fridge, television, or thermostat, will be able to receive and pass on wireless streams.

When Wi-Fi Everywhere rolls out, you’ll never be more than a few feet from a hotspot.

Harnessing Light

In some respects, light-based Wi-Fi (Li-Fi) may be the final frontier, capable of handling volumes of data far faster than radio waves.

In fact, we’re already seeing light-based data-transfer systems in today’s metro telecom networks. Known as optical networks, this tech can handle the data load for entire neighborhoods.

The key here is to apply this approach to Wi-Fi. One area that will need to be resolved is the “line of sight” issue. For Li-Fi to deliver peak loads, it must make a direct link between the host and the client.

Still, for any settings, such as surgical suites in hospitals, Li-Fi will shape up as a far more practical choice than Wi-Fi, thanks to advanced security and those supersized data rates.

The Time-Tested Winner

While a broad range of firms will look to profit from these more advanced forms of Wi-Fi, one firm in particular is ready to prosper. It’s a firm that has played a leadership role in wireless tech advances in the past.

And today’s Wi-Fi ecosystem already is enabled by this firm’s broad set of tech tools.

Woburn, Mass.-based Skyworks Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: SWKS) has rode ahead of the pack when it comes to the growth in wireless technology, boosting sales from $1.8 billion in 2013 to around $3.65 billion today.

This firm has built a set of chips and related products that target four key wireless areas: smartphones and tablets, computing, home entertainment, and networking.

Skyworks can help clients design the right system from the ground up, and then provide the right amplifiers, switches, diodes, converters, and front-end modules to deliver peak performance.

Apple’s iPhone is just one device that is made stronger by Skyworks. In fact, this firm’s tech is so strong, that Apple gladly pays the firm around $10 to $15 more with each new iPhone, compared to previous models. In the trade, that’s made Skyworks become known as a “rising content play.”

The firm spends more than $300 million a year on R&D with one simple focus: to make all of its chips and gear smaller, more power efficient, and most important, capable of handing the ever-advancing need for speed and bandwidth.

Look for 40% gains for this stock over the next three years, right in line with the firm’s earnings growth rate. Shares of Skyworks are trading for around $102, and the firm is valued at $18.87 billion.

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We spoke earlier of the advanced televisions coming down the pike. Skyworks has ensured that it plays a top role with many leading tech brands found in your home.

The key focus here is on wireless applications, including image and file sharing and viewing, hi-def television, streaming video, printing,

cameras, game consoles, and PCs.

Skyworks is the star of today’s wireless technology landscape.

And with a host of Wi-Fi upgrades heading our way – 4K and 8K – it’s pretty clear that this firm has an even brighter future ahead.

And now you know because we’re able to focus on more than one thing at a time – even if it’s happening half a world away.

Have a great weekend.

See you next week.

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