Downloading an Entire Season of a TV Show in Less Than a Minute? A Speedier Wi-Fi Will Actually Hit the Market This Year. The Power and the Real Story

Apr 17, 2013  •  Post A Comment

First, the good news: "A faster version of Wi-Fi will hit the market this year, giving users the power to download a television show’s entire season in less than a minute," writes Drew Fitzgerald in the Wall Street Journal [Note: the WSJ is behind a pay wall and may ask you to pay to see its story

Fitzgerald continues with the bad news: "although few people can expect to take advantage of such speeds any time soon."

Why? Here's what's going on, according to the story:

"The new wireless standard, called 802.11ac, can triple its predecessor's typical speed, wireless experts say, and handle more than a billion bits of data per second [a gigabit] in an ideal environment, fast enough to stream high-definition video with ease.

"Yet most Web surfers won’t enjoy the benefit of those wireless speeds online until broadband speeds catch up. The average fixed Internet connection peaks around 32 megabits—or about 32 million bits—per second in the U.S., according to network operator Akamai Technologies—about 1/40 of the throughput offered by the latest 802.11ac devices. The high cost of investing in new network equipment—which in most cases includes digging new routes for high-capacity fiber-optic cable—forces most Internet service providers to limit data speeds."

But that doesn’t mean you need to wait to take advantage of this new technology, the story notes:

"Despite the broader Internet bottleneck, consumers will find the next-generation of Wi-Fi useful because it operates on a less-crowded swath of the radio spectrum, dodging interference from baby monitors, microwave ovens and other electronics that share the same airwaves.

" ‘If my link to my service provider is 25 megabits per second, the question is, ‘Do I need an ac router?’ ‘ asked Chris Spain, vice president of product marketing at Cisco Systems wireless networking unit. ‘I think for most people, the answer to that is probably yes.’ Cisco will roll out business-class networking products with the new standard built-in later this year.

The story quotes one expert as saying, " ‘By the end of 2014, pretty much every tablet you can buy will have ac built into them,’ said Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin.

The article says Golvin also "expects Apple to add ac-capable chips when it launches the next versions of its iPhone, iPad and MacBook devices. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on any of the company’s future devices.

"Those who use the new Wi-Fi standard will notice the biggest benefit in crowded spaces, where a clean radio signal cuts through interference from other devices, even if their connection to their service provider falls short of 802.11ac’s lofty speed limit.

"The advantage will become even more apparent when more televisions, home appliances and other electronics come to market with the ability to match Ethernet cables with Wi-Fi that is equally reliable."

We urge you to read the entire article by using the link in our first paragraph.

One Comment

  1. The comment from the Cisco VP is intended to do nothing but sell new routers.
    Consider: If your Internet connection from your ISP is 25 Mbps:
    * 802.11b is 11 Mbps – so you may want a new router
    * 802.11g is 54 Mbps – faster than your Internet connection
    * 802.11n is 150 – 300 Mbps – much faster than your Internet connection
    So there is no need for a new router unless you have an ancient 802.11b-only model, and even then an 802.11n model will serve your needs well until your connection to your ISP exceeds 150 Mbps.
    Note also that each speed bump dramatically reduces the range of the Wi-Fi signal and how much power it consumes, and 802.11ac is no different.

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