802.11ac – Coming Soon to a Wireless Network Near You


Another wireless network standard is on the rise with introductory technology to support it – the 802.11ac or otherwise known as 5G Wi-Fi. We’ve all used and enjoyed Wireless B, Wireless G, and Wireless N. Although some people in the world may not have had enough of an opportunity to really enjoy wireless n.

While there are some sections of the world where people have just begun enjoying the benefits of the recent 802.11n (or wireless n), the next step up in wireless technology is already looming in the air. The usual questions that come along include concerns about the price of the equipment, compatibility, speed, and overall functionality and performance of the latest standard or will it be a fluke.


A Fluke?

Master Yoda (Jedi Master from Star Wars movies) would say “a fluke it is not, you see” and we would be obliged to concur with the old wise and powerful green one. Before 802.11ac is introduced to the populations of the world, it has already been tested and benchmarked for performance comparison etc.

What we know is that it is far from being a fluke and it is absolutely cool. One technology expert commentator even dubbed the “ac” at the end as “air conditioning” just to show how “cool” this new WiFi standard really is.

What Improvements Should We Expect?

Well, the answer to the above question is the same answer we have heard from technology experts when some new wireless technology has been invented or discovered – faster speed and more possibilities.

Seriously speaking, when the 802.11n technology was introduced, everyone who had a need for faster wireless networking technology had quite a moment of elation. In short, expect to be elated once again as we step things up several notches forward.

No doubt, Wireless N is still the currently most popular WiFi standard. Well, 802.11ac will require time to grow on people just like any other new technology on the horizon. The fun generally begins after the word has gone out and people (critics included) have had time to crash test this new technology. But what we have for now is already jaw dropping.

802.11ac is backwards compatible to 802.11n. This means that if you have the current Wireless N client and you buy a brand spanking new router that supports this new WiFi standard, then you don’t need to purchase a new client hardware or software program. The new router can and will work well for you. Simply put, you don’t need to buy a new iPad or iPhone when you get that new router.

However, if you have a computer or laptop and you want it to run at 5G WiFi speed (three times faster than Wireless N) then you need to get a new expansion card that goes into your desktop’s PCIe or Mini PCI. Of course, those who don’t want to bother opening up their computers or those who primarily work with laptops, notebooks, etc. can get the latest USB adapters that support 5G WiFi.

802.11ac is the first WiFi standard to ever go beyond 1 gigabit transmission speed. It can actually go as fast as 1.3Gbps. It is also tested to be consistently faster than any WiFi standard that has been introduced.

The Letdowns and Hang-Ups

Just like any new technology, 5G Wi-Fi still has a few bugs that need to be figured out. The first and most obvious obstacle is the fact that there aren’t that many router brands and models that support this new WiFi standard. Well, that will be easy to work on – which pretty much means that we’ll just have to wait for manufacturers to catch up.

A huge chunk of good news is that word has come that Apple will be one of the many industry leaders that will support this latest wireless technology. Expect the next Apple products to be 802.11ac capable. Industry leaders expect the adaptation to 5G WiFi to be a lot faster compared to Wireless N.

The other drawback, for now at least, is the price. Again, this isn’t really that big an issue since even the first routers that support 802.11ac are only a tad more expensive than today’s top of the line Wireless N products. Expect prices to go down as competing brands come up with their own products, which basically translate to better times ahead for consumers.