By Gavin Wheeldon. Published on 19th March 2013.
Most people will be familiar with 802.11 a/b/g and the most recent n standards for Wi-Fi. Well there’s a new kid on the block with 802.11ac which is still in draft format, meaning there will be changes and improvements in the standard over the coming months. So, should you rush out and buy one of the new 802.11ac routers? Well, if you’re like me and just like to play around with new technologies then yes, you should. I went for the Asus which has some great reviews and is a nice piece of kit.
But just hold that Amazon check out button for one more minute, there is a small problem – there are no devices that can take advantage of the ac standard. So your smart phone, laptop, tablet and anything else is simply going to connect to n or if it’s older, b/g. There are adapters you can get, certainly for the laptop, that will allow you to take advantage of the technology, so again if you like playing with technology it may be worth it.
So what will it mean for the future? Well the 802.11ac standard holds a lot of promise, with Gigabit speeds three times faster than n and a greater broadcast distance it will be a massive boon to the smart home industry and to anyone in general streaming media or games around a home network, which this is particularly suited to. Maybe this will be the era of no more wires, now that would be pleasant!
By far the biggest benefit this will bring is for internal networks, media, file sharing, etc, that all of the same speeds and ability to benefit. The problem with any system is that it is only ever as fast as the slowest component. So if you have a 2Mb internet connection then it will make no difference having a 1.3Gb speed from the laptop to the internet because it will all grind to a halt at that point.
Just with the 802.11n standard it will take time for this to truly get going, Apple have hired somebody with expertise in 802.11ac for testing purposes which hopefully means we will see new devices having the capability later this year, and safe to say that all the other manufacturers will be doing something similar. So hopefully in 2014 we’ll all be enjoying lightening fast speeds.