Macs to finally support 802.11ac Wi-Fi this year: report

A report suggests that Apple is getting ready to give Wi-Fi on the Macs a significant speed boost by adding 802.11ac support.

There are no shortage of 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers out there , but hardware supporting the standard -- still a way off final approval -- is thin on the ground. However, if a report by The Next Web is accurate, Apple will integrate Gigabit Wi-Fi into new Macs by the end of 2013.

According to the report, the Cupertino electronics giant has reached an agreement with chipmaker Broadcom -- one of the few chipmakers that currently manufacture 802.11ac chipsets -- to develop 802.11ac chipsets for inclusion into Macs.

The report goes on to claim the Wi-Fi chip that Apple wants is not currently available, but in development. 

Checks with supply chain sources confirm that Apple has reached an agreement with Broadcom to supply an as-yet unreleased 802.11ac chipset.

The 802.11ac standard -- sometimes called 5G Wi-Fi -- offers significantly faster data transfer capacity compared to 802.11n. An 802.11n device with three antennas can hit transfer rates of 450Mbps. 802.11ac is capable of matching that speed with a single antenna. With three antennas -- and under perfect conditions -- an 802.11ac-enabled connection can hit transfer rates of 1.3Gbps.

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But speed isn't the only benefit that 802.11ac offers. It also brings with it better coverage and dramatically improved power efficiency.

Upgrading to 802.11ac will not only offer improved Internet speeds, but also speed up Apple's AirDrop sharing feature, as well as better, more reliable AirPlay connections.

There is no word as to whether Apple is planning to add 802.11ac support to iDevices, Apple TV, Time Capsule storage devices, and AirPort routers.

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