High-speed 802.11ac Wi-Fi finally taking off

High-speed 802.11ac Wi-Fi finally taking off

Summary: Gigabit Wi-Fi access points are due to cross the one million device mark by year's end.


ABI Research's Jake Saunders, VP and practice director of forecasting, is reporting that while "802.11n device shipments still dominate the market, accounting for more than two thirds of total device shipments; 802.11ac access point adoption is starting to gain traction."


PC sales are in the doldrums, but ABI Research sees a different story when it comes to Wi-Fi hardware. According to this technology market research company, "Worldwide consumer Wi-Fi customer premises equipment (CPE) shipments surpassed 43.3 million at the end of 1Q 2013; a 16.8-percent increase from 4Q-2012."

In particular, ABI Research expects that 1 million of 802.11ac consumer access points will be shipped by the end of 2013. That said, part of this market surge is due to the fact that almost all high-end Wi-Fi routers now come with 802.11ac by default.

In theory, 802.11ac protocol enables speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps as well as better coverage than 802.11n. In practice, while significantly faster than 802.11n, 802.11ac can't really reach Gigabit-per-second speeds except in laboratory conditions. In the real world, its range is also likely to be more limited than the older 2.4GHz 802.11n and 802.11g technologies.

Would-be buyers of this new networking technology should also keep in mind that it can only deliver as much broadband as your slowest link. So, if you're lucky enough to have a 100Mbps Internet connection, your 802.11ac Wi-Fi can only deliver a 100Mbps connection to the Web from your Wi-Fi-equipped laptop or tablet.

ABI found that in the SOHO/Consumer Wi-Fi equipment market, TP-LINK has the top market share with 15 percent, followed by NETGEAR and D-Link with 12 percent and 11 percent respectively. In the enterprise wireless local area network (WLAN) sector, ZTE has the largest market share, accounting for 39 percent of total access point shipments while Cisco holds the second largest market share of 26 percent, and HP Networking ranks third as it overtook Aruba Networks in late 2012.

A new IEEE Wi-Fi standard 802.11ad (WiGig) which uses 60GHz band and delivers speeds up to 7 Gbps was approved in early 2013. However, you won't see these products until the end of the year.

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Topics: Networking, Broadband, Cisco, Wi-Fi

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  • Get 200 mbps

    I have :
    Router : Linksys EA6500 from Cisco
    Phone : Samsung Galaxy S4
    ISP : 200 mbps link from www.videotron.ca in Canada

    Speedtest gives 200 mbps with 802.11ac on my Galaxy S4.

  • I'd actually rather have more range than speed

    I get a pretty weak signal in some parts of the house.
    Johnny Vegas
  • I'd actually rather have more range than speed

    I get a pretty weak signal in some parts of the house.
    Johnny Vegas
  • And They All Run Linux

    What's inside a wireless router? A MIPS CPU running a Linux OS.
    • Hands down

      Linux really good on routers ;-)
  • One must ask, when is enough enough?

    OK, so what is enough speed? 100 mbps? 1000 mbps? 1300 mbps?

    For business, speed isn't the real issue, it's capacity, in other words, the ability to add more people and devices without adding new hardware. N speeds are sufficient for most business applications today, so if the AC standard increases the number of devices due to extra capacity, that's a big plus.

    In my case at home, I have an N router that I can hit with a 58 mbps connection on a bad day anywhere in the house. Considering my Internet connection is 20 mbps, and most of what I do comes over the wire, the extra 38 mbps is pretty much a waste.

    But - is 20 mbps enough? Considering I can stream two HD movies and still surf the Internet all at the same time, it seems sufficient.

    Transferring videos and other large files around the house is fairly quick, even at the 58 mbps speeds. So, the AC standard seems serious overkill in today's world.

    Sort of like the SD cards. I have 4, 8, 16, and 32 gig cards, but really don't see the need to buy a 64 gig card. After all, a 16 gig card will hold several thousand photo's or a number of movies. After all, how many movies do I really need in my pocket? Do I really need that extra capacity or am I just wasting my money so I can say I've got the biggest?

    At some point, the need for capacity maxes out for a time, perhaps wireless N was where current needs maxed out and adoption of AC will just take someone finding a new high capacity data storage requirement that forces people to upgrade to AC.

    Me thinks AC will be slow adoption.

    Just thinking
    • 4k

      That's what will require gigabit speeds.
  • It's sad that people believing in this kind of gimmicks

    The problem here is that people always gullible for Wifi gadget speeds, but they forgot that the backbone infrastructure for all of the major/minor carriers is the problem. It doesn't matter how fast your wifi, but if your connection to the Internet is still slow then, you are still slow, otherwise we would have the price different to internet speed. If the general population can't afford anything over a T1 speed, then the Gig/Tera Gig Wifi doesn't mean much.
    • There's more to WiFi than the internet

      I'm sick of hearing that WiFi speeds don't matter because such and such internet speeds blah blah blah...you're forgetting that before WiFi connects you to the internet it connects you to your LAN, which is a major oversight. I personally have two servers on my LAN with a multi-gigabit trunks to my backbone switch, which the rest of my family streams HD content from and run backups to, regularly simultaneously. It's important to note that the max speed of the protocol is the total theoretical available throughput for the entire WLAN, meaning the more devices you have connected, the more limited the bandwidth is for each. In this type of scenario the speed becomes less "gimmicky" and more essential to providing an ample wireless link locally, regardless of the 100mbps internet connection we also have.
      • Couldn't agree more!

        Sure, I've got 50+ up and 5+ down from RR but a HUGE quantity of data is bouncing around our home and office. Last count, 44 Wireless devices. I'm using AC dongles and wish I didn't have to.
        Jim Tew