Librem 5 - WiFi Specs

Can anyone comment on why such old WiFi tech (802.11n) is listed on the latest hardware spec sheet?
I would have expected at least 802.11ac capabilites for a device, that I assume, most people are going to keep for many years.


We have the goal to create a device that does not require firmware blobs at runtime. Most (almost all) current and more recent chips require a firmware download at runtime through the operating system. This is violating RYF specifications. This is BTW also the reason why we are still pretty stuck with the ATH9k in the laptops.
The next constraint is that we need a WiFi chip / module that is as low power as possible for our mobile device. The module we have chosen now provides both, no runtime firmware and low power. For getting rid of the runtime firmware we invested significantly in a custom firmware that the manufacturer made specifically for our use case.



Free PR tip: make this more known :slight_smile:


Hopefully it will support WiFi-Direct for gnome-screencast or the like (Miracast implementation).

Thanks for the quick response.

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802.11n is max 300 mbs download (divide by 8 to get the speed in megaBYTES)
802.11ac is above 1gbs - not many people need/afford it.

by the time 802.11n can be completely saturated by all wired/cellular internet connections you can be sure 802.11ac will be available on libre-linux kernel.

more important is to have a stable/reliable 300 mbs connection with upload beeing the most important for sending so the N standard is not nearly as dead as you might think.

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Additionally I guess in case you really need really high transfer rates (not video streaming which can go as slow as the video goes) you could probably also connect ethernet via a usb c docking station I guess?

the thing is with data transfer you are always limited by more than just the internet connection itself.
if you were refering to the librem 5 or any kind of smartphone know this - it has to have the cpu+storage-unit combo able to reliably work at that speed.

for example if you have a sata 3 ssd with close to 600 (mega BYTES sequential read/write speed) and an i5(at least but better i7) you could easily sustain a 500 (mega BYTES internet connection) but in the case of a smartphone that is limited by the cooling capability and bandwidth of the said device.

smartphones are limited in comparison to laptops/workstations by heat-output and power consumption.

for the librem 5 you can be sure you will never reach the max 802.11n standard speed (for the v1 at least)

yes you could in theory/practice connect an ethernet dsl/fiber/pppoe through an rj45 port on a docking-station and then pass that through the usb type C to the smartphone but the same limitations will apply just maybe not in regards to latency(which is higher on wifi)

the advantage of wire is that you don’t have to worry so much about which router/firewall combo you will need to use (in case of wifi - if you want a fully libre solution you may be out of luck)

the complicated part is to first develop a fully libre local infrastructure for personal/secure/private/fast/reliable no compromise internet acces connection. after that there comes the MAN infrastructure, then the WAN and then finally the WWW (if you’ve figured it out by now do let us know so we don’t die stupid)


They will put a cheaper 802.11n card there because it’s just, cheaper.
The official statement will be that it is in order to protect your freedom (but not of choice).
Instead of giving you the option to use a 802.11ac card even though it has non-free
firmware, which in case properly isolated should not be much of an issue.
Real world example - see how Qubes treats drivers.

how come ? are you not free to choose to use a proprietary high-end Samsung/Apple device if you don’t care/want to support an open-hardware platform ?

yes 802.11n wifi nic is cheaper but Nicole Faerber already answered in the second post what the firmware issue is. maybe you didn’t read it yet …

Or maybe I read it and I just don’t buy it (pun intended).
Just like I don’t buy the headphone jack removal.

A real “freedom” would be letting the user to decide which specs they want to have.
And your theoretical assumption of real world 300Mbit on 802.11n is…
Well, try iperf. It’s a free utility. You’ll be surprised.

The headphone jack removal is for other phones like iphones right? I was kind of shocked when you wrote this and had to re-view the phone specs which clearly have the jack in:

Regarding letting the user decide on specs is good - but you also have to see that this project is already late and at some point compromises have to be done - I am happy with a 802.11n - I would even say before investing in 802.11ac the money should go to other things so I would even say if it’s cheaper please do so and invest the money in a hardware test or a better other component or a bit ram, or whatever more :slight_smile:
In the end has to create ONE phone and is getting it cheap by having a relatively big amount of the one same phone. So no individual components for everyone. On the other hand having the specs for everything blasted up to a maximum would limit the buyers too - 649 dollar were already a tough decision for me. But the good thing is - if the librem 5 is a success there will be a free os, a lot of experience and other distributers will piggy back on their success - like already happening. Maybe you will find a phone with 802.11ac then or in the next revision of the librem 5 :wink:


You either accept Purism’s stance on as open a phone as the can build or you don’t accept it.

Also, 37.5 mega bytes a second is a lot of data. I’m not sure if the rest of the hardware is able to keep up with that.
Average American (as reported by Speed test) internet connection is ~96 mega bits/sec.

We can be fooled that are network hardware can support much faster speeds yet our ISP is the largest bottleneck. Sure many are getting fiber or higher tiered cable plans but what would someone be doing with a phone that would require faster WiFi connections?


“640kb of memory will be enough for everybody”
© Bill Gates

Ok, I hope you will be happy with your phone. Not trying to discourage
avid fans, just telling the other side of the truth which is almost non-existent on this forum.

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I wonder why you are still posting here… You clearly don’t consider this project serious, and you are 100% free to look elsewhere for your phone (talking about freedom). So, why bother to keep posting like an hater? Do you consider yourself some sort of Messiah, that need to inform the people about the massive scam Purism is? I guess the majority of the people in here, have already their idea about the matter, and if someone still hasn’t… Too bad!


i’m sure you got better numbers hidden somewhere. i wrote that number to make the point that it’s not so much about N, or AC or whatever else if your hardware can’t match at least the medium speed of that NIC/internet connection but you already know how this works better than i do i suspect.

if you’re up for the test do take your ultra freedom-respecting mobile device you now own and take it for a spin. i propose a simple 3G/4G mobile router scenario so you can tether your wifi AC :smile: connection and tell us what your score is. maybe also say how much you pay for that and how far your metered connection allows you to go untill it refuses to serve you anymore megabytes.

ac my ass dude. sure bring on the wires and see how your poor smart-phone overheats and slowly dies of a heart attack. troll much ?

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I am not really impressed with 802.11ac on the client side, especially for compact, battery operated devices. Its innovations are great if you are close to the access point, but a lot of those innovations are restricted to the 5 Ghz band. If you go through walls, then you are using the 2.4 Ghz band for a solid signal, and ac does not add a lot of value in this scenario.

Personally, I do not plan on upgrading any WiFi devices until 802.11ax becomes stable. It offers mandatory WPA3 for better security, its innovations (which includes a better solution for overcrowding) operate on all bands (not just 5 Ghz) for more stable connections over a long distance and through walls (2.4 Ghz), and low power modes and wake/sleep time negation for greatly extending the battery life.

Because “Respects Your Freedom” makes firmware updates difficult, I expect that it will be a while before we can get a Librem phone with ax, but it will be worth the upgrade. Maybe they can get the WiFi vendor to put their firmware on a chip that can be flashed from the operating system, instead of loaded by the operating system during boot.


37.5MBps/300Mbps is the theoretical max, you will not achieve that unless you have a perfect lab environment and the hardware is flawless which it never is. Realistic speeds of 5Ghz 802.11n chips is around 5-12MBps or 40-100Mbps (which is still faster than most peoples internet connection, but the difference will be noticable when transferring files over a local network.


unless you are moving data around your internal network and the internet connection is not relevant.


Which is why I wrote this, not sure why you only cited half of my sentence.