Just when you thought you were finally getting used to 802.11n Wi-Fi, those rascals at the IEEE are at it again, this time adding another letter to the now almost ubiquitous Wi-Fi certification symbols. This time, however, one letter simply won’t suffice. 802.11ac, slated to be the next release version of the Wi-Fi standard hopes use advanced simultaneous transmission technology to increase data rates to 1Gbps.
According to Cnet, research firm In-Stat expects a draft release of the standard sometime in 2011; the first consumer devices shipping with the increased rates will be released by the end of 2012, and In-Stat expects a billion 802.11ac enabled devices to be in production by 2015. That one billion number isn’t so hard to imagine when you consider the amount of Wi-Fi enabled cell phones, tablets, book readers, cars and even kitchen appliances are being built with Wi-Fi capability.
While the 1Gbps data rate makes the techie inside all of us salivate, that nice round ‘G’ enticing us like Pavlov’s bell, keep in mind that your DSL internet connection is very likely not operating on that kind of bandwidth, and upgrading from an 802.11n device may not provide that huge speed boost you’re dreaming of. Even on your internal network, not all Wi-Fi devices are capable of 1Gbps throughput, and many are still maxing out at 100Mbps. As the new technology starts to hit the market, consider your own network situation, and don’t pay for something that will be heavily underutilized (unless you just like having more letters in your wireless certification symbols).