Apple rumored to adopt gigabit WiFi standard this year

Apple is expected to implement IEEE 802.11ac, the upcoming WiFi standard that can achieve data throughput three times faster than 802.11n, in AirPort base stations, Time Capsule, the oft-rumored Apple TV, notebooks and possibly its mobile devices this year, according to AppleInsider.

IEEE 802.11ac, which operates exclusively on the 5GHz spectrum, is being called "Gigabit WiFi" due to the extreme speeds it can reach by using a combination of technologies including wider channel bandwidths (from 80 to 160MHz compared to 40MHz maximum in 802.11n), more efficient data transfers through sophisticated modulation, and up to eight antennas. Existing standards support up to four antennas, while Apple's Mac computers use up to three.

While 802.11ac is currently still in development and is not set to be fully ratified by IEEE and the WiFi Alliance until the end of 2012, the new WiFi standard is already supported by Broadcom chipsets. Broadcom announced 802.11ac chips at CES this year and is a major supplier of the WiFi chips used in most Apple products. The new chips are backwards compatible with 802.11n and older WiFi standards.

AppleInsider also notes that Apple previously launched hardware supporting the 802.11n standard in early 2007, almost a full three years before the standard was formally ratified in October 2009, so the act of pushing new technology standards is definitely not new to Apple.

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