2013: The year Gigabit Wi-Fi arrives

2013: The year Gigabit Wi-Fi arrives

Summary: No more idle chit-chat, Gigabit Wi-Fi, thanks to 802.11ac, is on its way to your home and corporate networks.

Cisco EA6700
The Cisco/Linksys EA6700 may look like just another router but it boasts speeds of up to 1.3Gbps.

Las Vegas – Last year, Broadcom started shipping 802.11ac chipsets, which could reach 1.3Gbps speeds. Shipping routers and systems that could support 802.11ac, however, remained scarce. In 2013, that will all change. The day of Gigabit Wi-Fi is here.

That's because 802.11ac is finally seeing broad adoption. At CES Cisco/Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear are all releasing new 802.11ac compatible routers. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who''s anyone in networking who isn't already shipping, or are about to ship, 802.11ac gear.

In addition, Broadcom is finally facing some serious competition on the Wi-Fi chipset front. Qualcomm. At CES Qualcomm is demoing its Atheros' StreamBoost 802.11ac chipset. D-Link has already agreed to ship routers with this silicon under the hood. Competition breeds both lower prices and more devices. 

When it comes to Wi-Fi, standards politics can be as important as the technology in success. While 802.11ac still isn't a finished standard, it's much closer than it used to be. What's more important though is that the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, (WiGig), have announced that they'll consolidate WiGig's certification and development under Wi-Fi Alliance.

Wi-Gig had been working on 802.11ad, the generation beyond 802.11ac. It will eventually bring speeds of up to 7Gbps to your Wi-Fi network. This consolation should smooth the path from today's 802.11n 300Mbps networks to 802.11ac and ad's gigabit and up speeds.

All of which is well and good, but you need computers, devices and tablets that can also work with 802.11ac. Sure, some people will buy 802.11ac adapters, but most people won't take the trouble. Fortunately for Gigabit Wi-Fi, the computer and device vendors are getting on the 802.11ac bandwagon. Most noticeably, it appears that Apple will be support 802.11ac in 2013. Other vendors will surely follow.

For all the sexiness of high speed, what may be more important about 802.11ac for businesses is, as Craig Mathias, principal of the Farpoint Group said, properly deployed, 802.11ac will bring higher " overall reliability and ... capacity. (PDF, registration required) This means meeting the diverse needs of a large and increasing number of users with a similarly growing number of devices per user (driven in large measure by today’s broadening shift to BYOD [Bring Your Own Device]) and with a robust mix of application
demands, and not simply provisioning the maximum possible point-to-point throughput."

Speed may be great, but for many stressed out network administrators being able to deliver more reliable and robust Wi-Fi to their users could be the best news they'll get this year. For them, 802.11ac can't come soon enough. 

Related Stories:

Topics: Wi-Fi, Broadband, Tech Industry, CES, Networking, IT Priorities, Hardware, Data Management, Cisco, Bring Your Own Device

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  • Yawn again -

    Gigibit wireless. Yippee.

    Gigibit wired never really took hold. Wireless N is well entrenched in the consumer market, most businesses have already installed wireless on the N platform as well.

    Good old inertia will hold gigabit down to new installations and where high speed is really needed.

    I've heard the "Better Reliability" argument too many times. Besides replacing the in place N technology is way too expensive. Performance enhancements just aren't enough to warrent the change.

    This might be one of those technologies that is skipped in the short run. Some performance improvement, but N can do 600 megabit, and Gigabit just isn't that much better.

    I see skipping and waiting until the next great improvement comes in, like maybe 2 or 5 gigabit. Single gigabit just doesnt' make that much difference.
    • Gigabit Never Really Took Off? WHAT!?

      What nifty drugs are you on! Is Coca-Cola an old drink that never really took off? Automobiles, bah those things will never take off! What nonsense, any business on a wired network is using Gigabit (which is pretty much everyone), very few businesses can use only a wireless setup. Especially, military related companies or medical companies overly concerned with security. We haven't seen desktops and notebooks with 10/100 only ports in years and most people are used to the high speed of Gigabit, whether they realize it or not, no one would ever go back! And Gigabit wireless is exactly what most of us have been waiting for, this means I can finally unplug the Gigabit wires on my Home network that I have had since the year 2000! It isn't just the highest speed rating, it is the way it is used and each new standard uses it more efficiently, so if the old one achieved 20% speed at 100 feet with 3 walls in between, the new one may achieve 40% speed with 5 walls in between. If you don't know what you are talking about, don't make stupid comments, please!
      • The bottleneck is still the ISP

        This would be great if we can get this type of speed with the ISP. The average consumer, I think, will have no use for this because they get their content from the web.
        • Workplace v. Homeplace

          I was thinking the same thing until it dawned on me that Steven was mostly focused on the workplace. I upgraded my home network from an N150 router to an N600 recently, and am very pleased with the results. Toyed with the "ac" option, but decided it was too much bucks for the bang at this time. If I were running a business, I'd have a different attitude.
    • Gigabit wired will never catch on!

      What a laugh...!
  • Theoretical speeds don't interest me

    I can get 20Mbps if my laptop is right next to my router but that drops to about 2Mbps when I move back to my office and even that can't be sustained reliably.

    So I don't care if this can give speeds of "up to 1Gpbs", I only care if this will give me better than 2Mbps when I'm 30' away, there are 2 walls between me and the router, and everyone in my neighborhood is downloading stuff at exactly the same time on their WiFi connections.
    • Modulation and coding rate

      WI-FI and other wireless devices such as mobiles, adjust the coding rate and modulation to suit the radio conditions, what you need bear in mind is the WI-FI device could be dropping back to BPSK or whatever instead of using 64QAM which by memory is the top level. This will apply for any new technology coming out. 8X8 MIMO 160 MHz can achieve up to 6.9Gbps. under perfect condition. UE will unlikely be able to receive the full 8 as they use MU-MIMO that can isolate the streams out for a device. Each stream is up to about 860Mbps. So if your device is 2X2 that give a theoretical 1700Mbps. Normal use if not at edge of coverage usually get about 1/3 of advertised speeds. But as someone has said the 5GHz band does not penetrate anywhere near the same level as 2.4GHz.

      There should be a table in Wikipedia that has all the codding rates, modulation, carrier sizes.
    • Oh Toddy!

      I'm nearly speechless! This is the first rational post I've ever seen from you!! Is this your New Year's resolution - stop Apple bashing and twisting the facts? Congratulations on our growth as a human.

      With that said, I'm not sure of your meaning when you say "everyone in my neighborhood is downloading stuff at exactly the same time on their WiFi connections". Is that public WiFi?
  • Bigger Pipes

    The real change will come when the pipes outside the home and outside the workplace grow bigger. Right now there is insufficient demand for super highways in the digital world. If I can stream movies that look great on my widescreen TV and 22 inch monitor with the current broadband dimensions then there isn't sufficient push for broader spectrum. Universities and medical centers are already moving to a faster plane.
  • Gigabit rules!

    That first comment was pretty funny actually... 'Gigibit' network, didn't know there was such a thing. :D Anyway, I've had wired gigabit switches in place for over 2 years now on my home/business network, and there is a world of difference for large file transfers and overall response time for the network, between machines that have gigabit LAN onboard. I can definitely see a benefit in gigabit wireless, although it's going to be tough to get that kind of speed through multiple walls and obstructions. As you get in the much-higher-than-microwave range, it becomes more of a line of sight communication because the wavelength is so tiny. As we well know, even running 2.1 - 2.4 GHZ. and carrying a 100 MHZ. data rate with home-grade equipment, is 'iffy' at best. It will be even worse with 5 - 6 GHZ. and a 1000 mhz. data rate, to stay connected and keep a fast, reliable transfer rate. It may take some serious snake oil to make these things do what they say they will do. I'm sure their ratings are under optimal conditions in a total vacuum. ;)
  • Huh?

    It's not the year of the cloud? :-)