April 17, 2013
Though it won’t be widely available at first, a new, faster version of Wi-Fi is set to hit the market this year. It will give users the speed to download an entire television series in less than one minute. Called 802.11ac, it can triple the current norm’s typical speed, according to wireless experts, meaning it can handle more than a billion bits of data per second in ideal settings.
But the average Joe won’t get to experience these speeds quite yet, according to the Wall Street Journal. In order for that to happen, broadband speeds have to 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.”
Some developments are beginning to take place to accomodate these potentially faster Wi-Fi connections. “More routers, smartphones and laptops capable of handling 802.11ac traffic are entering the market this spring, months before the engineering organization that manages wireless rules is expected to finish writing the standard,” notes the article. “That leaves the newest Wi-Fi equipment in a bit of a technical gray area because the rules that decide how new devices communicate can change after products hit the market.”
All the while, hardware makers are forging ahead, “betting the advantages of moving into the market early will trump the risk that a relatively shortlist of routers will be available to communicate with them,” writes WSJ.