5th generation WiFi is coming your way
Posted: 20th Jun 2012
Over in Taiwan, ASUS has just announced that it’s to launch the world’s first laptop with a WiFi ac adaptor on board. Which sounds very impressive, so long as you know what it is.
Wireless ac, also known as ‘fifth generation WiFi’ or 802.11ac, is the successor to the popular Wireless N standard which governs connections between WiFi routers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, smart TVs and more. It’s builds on the existing standard and is backwards compatible, but is notable for a few key differences.
- It’s fast. Very fast. By using multiple antennas and channels simultaneously, Wireless ac is expected to reach speeds of up to 7Gbps over the air. That’s almost 20 times faster than current generation WiFi, although it will vary depending on the specific router.
- It uses the 5GHz frequency, to avoid interference from other wireless devices in the home. Some current Wireless N kit does as well, but not much.
- Wireless ac improves signal strength over distance by dynamically changing the direction it’s broadcasting in, using a technique called ‘beamforming’. This should also lead to better quality connections, for high definition video and real time gaming.
- At its slowest, it should still be quicker than Wireless N.
Before you rush out and buy 802.11ac kit, however, it’s worth pointing out that at the moment, the standard hasn’t been ratified by the IEEE, which is responsible for monitoring these things across the world. Current kit may not, therefore, be compatible with future WiFi routers, so it’s probably worth holding on. Most analysts expect the IEEE to accept the standard by the end of 2013 and that Wireless ac will be as common as Wireless N kit by 2015.
We can’t wait.