There is a new Wi-Fi standard in town and its name is 802.11ac, and networking vendor, Netgear, has already dipped its foot into it by announcing plans to release a compatible router this month.
According to Netgear A/NZ retail business unit senior director, Brad Little, the upcoming fifth generation WiFi standard, 802.11ac, comes just over five years after wireless 802.11n made its way into notebooks and into homes.
“Since that time, we have had so many Wi-Fi enabled devices in so many parts of our home, to the point where there are more of these devices in the household than actual people,” he said.
However, the incresing popularity of bandwidth-hogging activities like streaming video or music has meant an “ever-increasing demand” on home Wi-Fi Internet connections, he said. 802.11ac will help enable a "new level of experience" from all those devices, he added.
One key benefit of the new standard is improved speed - over 1 gbps, compared to 802.11n's base speed of 150 mbps. That’s a "really big jump" with enough bandwidth to move multiple HD videos, audios and contend throughout the home, said Little.
There's also improved coverage with advancements in how antennas work and beam.
“Most Wi-Fi devices are mobile in the house and people are no longer browsing the Internet from a single PC in a single point in the home,” Little said. “We now need access to our Wi-Fi connection in our kitchen, bathroom and backyard.”
802.11ac also provides increased capacity and additional processing power, which is useful at a time when people are connecting to multiple devices.
“We found that the average house has a minimum of six devices connected to the home network,” Little said. “As more devices connect, it puts more of a strain on the home network.”
Finally, 802.11ac is more energy efficient than before, and this efficiency isn't just limited to the device - a faster data transfer would help a mobile device receive data quicker and power down its Wi-Fi circuits to conserve the battery.
“We foresee an inherent increase in the battery life of mobile devices connecting to 802.11ac,” he said.
Though 802.11ac is a brand new format, Little expects the ramp up will be “quick” and people will be seeing 802.11ac routers over the next few months.
“A lot of leading manufacturers and vendors expect 802.11ac to be embedded in devices such as notebooks starting from the end of this year,” he said.
According to Little, Netgear’s 802.11ac router will be on a retail shelf this month, making it the first.