At their Word Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Jony Ive, the company’s Senior VP for design unveiled many new software and design improvements for Apple devices. While most media attention was given to the new interface design elements, gesture commands and iOS 7 upgrades, a very significant move toward the 802.11ac Networking WiFi protocol went largely unnoticed by the public – even though it is likely to have the most significant impact of all the innovations announced.
802.11ac is the next generation of WiFi and while it is already on the road to becoming the new standard, it has not taken root across all platforms yet. Lauded previously by a Cisco whitepaper as “a faster and more scalable version of 802.11n,” this fifth evolution of WiFi will allow wireless digital throughput with speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second, more than doubling the bandwidth available from the current 802.11n industry standard. Perhaps even more importantly, 802.11ac introduces greatly enhanced scalability by allowing access for as many as eight multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) streams and multi-user MIMO, which will be a terrific leap forward from the four stream capacity of current 802.11n WiFi.
Part of the technological improvement comes from a new technique known as “beam-forming”, which directs a concentrated wireless signal to a specific device or location so that one device can access a greater proportion of the bandwidth available on a network. However, the technology requires both an 802.11ac wireless device and a router or base station that supports the new protocol. At the WWDC Apple announced that their new Airport Extreme base station and the 2013 MacBook Air will feature full 802.11ac support, while existing devices will be able to upgrade Airport Express for approximately $200.00 as a one time fee.
In the past, draft spec versions like 802.11ac have taken as long as five or six years to become the new industry standard because hundreds of companies are involved in developing Wi-Fi and provide a massive amount of input regarding the features being implemented. Even after a new specification is deemed to be technically and legally sound, there is still a lengthy administrative process that takes place before the new standard is ratified globally. For that reason, 802.11ac was expected to be approved and published in 2014 with new hardware using the protocol not expected to reach the market until 2015 or the following year.
Now, Apple appears to be jumping forward and counting on their considerable market share among mobile device users to push 802.11ac as quickly as possible, making the mobile version of your websites an even more important aspect of successful hosting than they have already become.
National Net continues to monitor the progress of 802.11ac, and will provide updates here on our blog that inform our clients about the technological advancements due out in the coming months. We are also taking all of the necessary steps to ensure that your hosting is able to handle the considerable growth of mobile broadband capacity, with scalable solutions designed to provide all of the throughput your customers demand at prices that demonstrate the highest level of connectivity and data efficiency.
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