On Wednesday, the Wi-Fi Alliance, a global organization that ensures the interoperability of WiFi technologies, started certifying pre-standard 802.11ac, a technology that allows data transfers of up to 1.3 Gbps which is almost double compared to the standard WiFi 802.11n. This will broadcast the HD movie in less than 4 minutes, to transfer photo albums in seconds to your friends or play three simultaneous HD-movie streaming on mobile gadgets. In addition, the new standard will broadcast streaming movies in UltraHD (4K). However, a second wave of 802.11ac, which the group isn’t certifying yet, is expected to offer even higher speeds.
It is reported that the new standard will be a logical development of the WiFi technology and must meet increasing demand for wireless data, highlighted by the consortium.
Capacity is key for mobile operators, especially in crowded locations with many heavy users of mobile data. Carriers are picking up some additional frequencies through expensive auctions of private spectrum, but WiFi networks running on free, unlicensed spectrum are a key element of their strategies. In busy places with heavy mobile users, such as airport lounges, the 2.4GHz band is starting to fall short, according to Yankee Group analyst Ken Rehbehn.
Transmission speed 1.3 Gbps will not technical limit. As Quantenna, a California-based company has recently shown that the speed can reach up to 1.7 Gbps, if transmit information on four channels.
The standard 802.11ac offers to use channels 80 MHz and 160 MHz to 5 GHz. It is planned that most of the devices with 802.11ac will be dual-band – with the support of the 2.4 GHz band, which uses standard 802.11n.
In the Wi-Fi Alliance plans that the first devices with a certificate of 802.11ac will be available in the near future. According to the expectations of ABI Research, by the end of next year, the supply of chipsets supporting both 802.11n and 801.22ac passed for 1,500,000,000 shares.
“The certification program ensures that users can purchase the latest device and not worry if it will work with a device of two years or even 10 years ago,” said Kevin Robinson, senior marketing manager for the Wi-Fi Alliance in an interview.
The Wi-Fi Alliance predicts that many of the new routers made with 802.11ac will operate on both the 5GHz and 2.4 GHz bands. That way, 802.11n traffic will be able to run over both bands, while 802.11ac traffic runs over 5GHz. According to Robinson the 2.4 GHz will remain sufficient for carrying data for many apps and uses, such as Web browsing. Migrating to 5GHz allows wider spectrum channels with higher data throughputs, yielding higher performance. An advantage of 5 GHz is that various channel widths are supported — 20 MHz, 40 MHz and 80 MHz– while 2.4GHz allows only three 20 MHz channels.
Wireless carriers are keeping a very close eye on the new WiFi standard. Cell phone companies are increasingly looking to deploy WiFi hotspots to offload traffic from their congested networks. The new standard offers speeds that are on-par with 4G.
“The ratification of the 802.11ac standard will significantly improve the usefulness of WiFi to carriers,” said Mike McCormack, analyst at Nomura Equity Research.
Carriers have begun testing out technology that automatically switches users from 3G and 4G networks to WiFi. As the number of “ac” mobile devices grow, McCormack said consumers may all soon be connecting to Wi-Fi networks without even knowing it.