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

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

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

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TOPICS: Apple, Wi-Fi
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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.

Topics: Apple, Wi-Fi

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11 comments
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  • Do you realize how idiotic you sound?

    "Macs to finally support 802.11ac Wi-Fi this year"
    "the standard -- still a way [sic] off final approval"
    Dave Barnes
  • Apple hype

    The limiting factor in internet connection speed is typically the connection its self. Rarely is the hardware the limiting factor.
    Tim Acheson
    • Exactly

      For 99% of the *consumer* users, 802.11ac brings *no* speed increase to them, because their actual connection to the Internet won't even tax an 802.11g connection, let alone 802.11n/11ac.

      Case in point: my home Internet connection has a top speed of 6 Mbps. That's more than sufficient for my email, surfing, Netflix *and* gaming needs. My Wireless-N router can transfer data within the house at 300 Mbps...which is great if I'm hosting a LAN party, or possibly if I were transferring *existing* files between PCs, but it doesn't mean I connect to the Internet any faster than 6 Mbps.

      Same with the 802.11ac standard: unless you have a Gigabit or faster connection to your home, this kind of router brings *no* benefit. It's merely a selling point so someone can say they have the "bleeding edge" technology.
      spdragoo@...
      • What about intranet/home network?

        @spdragoo: "unless you have a Gigabit or faster connection to your home, this kind of router brings *no* benefit"

        By your logic, there is no benefits to have a wireless connection faster than your Internet connection.

        So are you willing to transfer files between your home networked PCs or access NAS at the same speed as your slow Internet connection instead of faster speeds provided by 802.11n or 80211.ac ?
        CaptainGoodnight
        • Apparently you didn't read my post

          since you missed where I said, "...which is great if I'm hosting a LAN party, or possibly if I were transferring *existing* files between PCs".

          Realize, though, that the majority of consumers do *not* transfer files directly from 1 PC to another. Most people have maybe 1 or 2 PCs tops at home, with the rest of their devices being tablets & smartphones. Even the majority of us that are tech-savvy don't have multiple PCs set up in the house simultaneously transferring files back & forth.

          For downloading large files, at most I may have to wait a few minutes for some really large file (~ 100-300 MB). If it's going to take much longer than that, I can go work on something else while waiting for it to download. The time doesn't really bother me because I still remember when they made files small enough that you could fit multiple files onto a 3.5" floppy, and can remember times when I had to stay dialed into my IP overnight to download a Windows update. Waiting a few minutes to download an extremely large file is *nothing*, because it's still a whole lot faster than it used to be. And if it comes to transferring the file to another PC, I'll usually just stick it on a flash drive or burn it to a disc, since I'm usually transferring it to a relative's PC that's located 60+ miles away. Wireless-B/G/N/AC doesn't work that far, in case you haven't noticed.

          As for the connection speed needed to stream video...my Internet connection is more than sufficient to stream Netflix/Hulu or listen to audio files, as well as being nearly ideal for streaming low-end HD content -- and if I really needed maximum HD quality, Wireless-G is more than sufficient bandwidth to accomodate the need.

          So, no, once you've downloaded the hideously large file from the Internet, over 95% of the consumer users out there *don't* need a super-fast LAN to transfer the file to another device in their home....they just need a decent enough connection to stream it, and you don't need Wireless-AC for that.
          spdragoo@...
          • with the advent of cloud backup and NAS even for home backup over WiFi...

            ...you definitely need the 802.11ac at its fastest. Ever tried fixing the disk on a remote Time Capsule? It now takes hours over fast 802.11n-link of like-minded devices.

            Then there is media streaming of Blueray movies and the like.

            Finally, the new standard allows for both directionality in the signal and dedication of individual channels to various devices, while dedicating other multiple channels to other devices. Mobile phones will also benefit from the new standard, both in bandwidth as well as in energy consumption.

            None of this excuses Comcast and Time Warner from their sorry level of service of delivering expensive slow internet service to the consumer.
            Mareklug
      • not entirely true

        all in your statement about external traffic is absolutely true. you can have a gig pipe in your home, but if you only get speeds or volume of a fraction of that, no benefit. the benefit comes to those using their internal network for data transfers and even more importantly, multi-media. Apple tv, air-play and other streaming from an internally hosted server will gain huge benefits for performance and video / audio quality. plus, the fact that you can separate this traffic from your external via the dual band / channel technology that these routers support, makes it even better. granted we're waiting for this to take off (wireless ac), you can still use "n" for the time being as everyone ramps up.
        Dane Bodamer
    • yes...

      because Wifi is for nothing but internet connections... so local speeds to other machines on the network, or backups, or whatever don't matter... only Internet matters!
      doh123
  • It's about time

    apple is behind the times for both NFC and wifi.
    toddbottom3
  • Thoughts

    According to Wikipedia, the 802.11ac standard won't be finalized until [at leadt] the end of 2013. Sure you can buy a router that has the "draft" version but no guarantees it will work with the final release. And maybe even by then the router may die or by the time you actually get something [device] that has 802.11ac.
    Gisabun
    • Nothing wrong with a little bit of future proofing.

      Sounds similar to what Apple did with 802.11n.
      ye