[Photo Credit: The Verge]
802.11ac has become the new wireless Internet standard by which consumers interact with their electronic devices and the web. So far in human history, 802.11a/b/g/n has become the norm for consumers who use the web on a daily basis. As has been pointed out in recent days, however, 802.11a/b/g/n features overlap in the communication channels of numerous devices – for example, your microwave and your smartphone. 802.11ac has one purpose in mind: to provide faster Internet (1.35Gbps vs. 4.5Mbps) as well as prevent network interruptions by placing Internet access on a channel that is not interrupted by other electronic devices. Apple looks to place 802.11ac WiFi (also known as 5-Gigabit WiFi) into its new 2013 MacBook Pro lineup and has placed a job ad in its job entries for an “iOS Wi-Fi Software Engineer” who must be familiar with 802.11ac.
I am pleased to report, however, that technology is already one step ahead of Apple and the rest of the tech manufacturers. This week, 802.11ad (you read it right: 802.11AD) has been approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as the new wireless Internet standard for devices of the future. 802.11ad is not a replacement to 802.11ac, however. The new 802.11ad standard is only meant to increase Internet speeds between devices in a single room, or what Adi Robertson of The Verge describes as “speeds over short distances” (http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/14/3875308/wigig-gets-official-standards-for-short-range-high-speed-wireless). 802.11ac wireless is used between devices regardless of where each is located in a home, school, or business setting.
If 802.11ad will not replace 802.11a/b/g/n or 802.11ac, then how will it coexist with these wireless standards? Chipmaker Qualcomm has partnered up with Wilocity, a gigabit chipmaker, to produce a chip that combines both 802.11ac and 802.11ad into a tri-band wireless networking card. The production of this card was announced on January 8, 2013 at International CES and will come in two forms: a next-generation form factor (NGFF) and a half-mini card (HMC). Vivek Gupta, Qualcomm Atheros’s Vice President of Computing, said the following in his announcement at International CES:
“We are pleased to offer the next generation tri-band solution that brings the industry’s first combination of Qualcomm VIVE 802.11ac and the newly ratified 802.11ad capabilities together on one card. This latest solution opens the door for consumer electronics manufacturers to integrate the technology on platforms ranging from HDTVs and gaming consoles to notebooks. As a result, end users can now enjoy the speed, improved reliability and range of 802.11ac with the multi-gigabit, in-room input/output and the networking achieved through 802.11ad” (Vivek Gupta, Qualcomm and Wilocity Cram 802.11ac and 802.11ad into single tri-band design).
As can be seen from Gupta’s response, 802.11ad is meant to complement 802.11ac; while the focus has been on making wireless speeds faster, there has not been as much of an emphasis on improving wireless speeds between devices. Using wireless for a number of devices at once can slow down wireless speeds altogether; with this said, Wilocity and Qualcomm aim to improve wireless connections of all kinds, whether short or long.
You may not be able to imagine 5-Gigabits per second as your next Internet speed. The tech world, however, is far ahead. Some day, in the not-so-distant future, 7Gbps (gigabits per second) Internet will make its way into your home.