If you have worked with IT long enough, you get less and less excited about new versions of hardware standards. It’s always the same story. The amazing new thing is SO much faster than the predecessor. I got a new computer, and it opens Word in a split second. But it still takes me the same time to write a letter. So why get excited?
When I first heard about 802.11ac, I was not exactly jumping out of my chair. But as I started to dig in deeper, I found some interesting features. Maybe 802.11ac really is a huge leap for WiFi. The more I learn, the more I believe it is. You can stream HD video while the kids are playing games over the network and stream music throughout the house while uploading your photos to your social media site. I predict more and more home entertainment devices will support WiFi with this new standard, and you will be able to eliminate the hassle of having wires all over your house that connect the devices.
The new 802.11ac is much faster than 802.11n. In fact, 802.11ac is the first WiFi standard to break the Gigabit barrier. And they did throw in some very useful features too when they defined the standard. So this looks like a lot more than just the usual, expected speed upgrade. This might even be interesting. You can draw an analogy on this technology evolution, especially the data throughput, to a freeway. The best way to describe the increase in throughput is to double the number of lanes on the freeway, and at the same time make the cars drive closer together.
As much as I dislike the word future-proof, it seems to be the appropriate term to use it here. The next time you buy a DVD/Blu-ray player, it’s very likely to have WiFi built-in. The TV is the same; you can now get them with built-in Skype, HD video streaming etc. Devices in your home are getting WiFi-enabled. If you don’t already have it, you will soon get a home packed with WiFi-enabled devices—imagine that! Think about how you hook up your entertainment system today. Every sound source, every video source etc. has its own cable with its own type of plug—HDMI cable for the DVD-player, COAX cable for the TV, composite cable for your camera, mini-jack cable for the MP3-player etc. With 802.11ac there is a wireless standard which has the speed, capacity, range and reliability to cover all of these types of sources wirelessly—at the same time.
Of course, 802.11ac’s strengths as a data connection for laptops, computers and tablets shouldn’t be disregarded. Obviously, the gigabit speed opens up new doors. WiFi used to be the last link of the network chain, like an extension of the wired network. But because 802.11ac promises gigabit speed, why not build business networks based on WiFi instead of wires? It would be easy to service and maintain, easy to add new work spaces and employees can move freely without compromising the network speed. With gigabit speed, and 8 times as many channels as 802.11n, WiFi can be considered an infrastructure component, not just an infrastructure extension.
Here are some interesting reads on 802.11ac: