The latest Wi-Fi technology, called "802.11ac," offers speeds of up to 1.3 Gigabits per second. That's fast enough to transfer an entire high-definition movie to a tablet in under 4 minutes, share photo albums with friends in a matter of seconds or stream three HD videos at the same time. It's more than double the top speed of the previous standard, known as 802.11n.
Those speeds are theoretical maximums -- very few people have anything close to 1 Gigabit speeds from their home broadband connection. Average speeds are less than 1% of that. But the faster speeds mean the new Wi-Fi standard will offer a much bigger pipeline for all those videos, songs and games that a growing number of people are streaming on multiple devices simultaneously.
The Wi-Fi Alliance, a global organization that ensures the interoperability of Wi-Fi technologies, began certifying so-called "ac" devices Wednesday. It kicked off the certification program by signing off on 19 routers, access points, microchips and smartphones. The shortlist of certified devices includes the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and routers from Cisco and Netgear.
The new standard aims to solve those problems. It allows more devices to simultaneously connect to a network without a degradation in performance. It also features lower latency times for streaming music and gaming, where network hiccups and delays can ruin a user's experience. And the latest Wi-Fi standard helps deliver streaming videos more reliably, even when the network is being used by other devices.
As an added bonus, 802.11ac requires devices to have support for two bands of airwaves, which will help to reduce interference. And it requires less power consumption from smartphones, tablets and PCs when they're transmitting data.