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7Gbps Capable Home WiFi Standard 802.11ac-2013 on the Way by 2015

Thursday, Jan 23rd, 2014 (8:28 am) - Score 1,710
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The latest generation of Gigabit (1.3Gbps) capable WiFi wireless home networking standard (WLAN), better known as 802.11ac, has only just begun to hit store shelves in its final form and now the next iteration (IEEE 802.11ac-2013) has been approved that will push your local network speeds up to 7Gbps (Gigabits per second).

The first 802.11ac standard built on 802.11n before it by offering better modulation, wider channels (80MHz) and multi-user MIMO technologies. Similarly 802.11ac-2013 will aim to make even better use of the 5GHz frequency band by adding channel bandwidths of 160MHz with both contiguous and non-contiguous 160MHz channels for flexible channel assignment.

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The usual array of better modulation (256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation), improved beamforming (helps your wifi signal to more directly target another client device) and an increase in the maximum number of spatial streams to 8 will also help to boost the new standards performance.

On top of all that 802.11ac-2013 will also use Smart Antenna and Multi-User Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MU MIMO) technology to make yet more efficient use of its radio spectrum, which should in turn deliver better capacity and reduced latency by supporting up to four simultaneous user transmissions. In other words, it allows multiple transmitters to send separate signals and multiple receivers to receive separate signals simultaneously, all while in the same band.

Bruce Kraemer, Chair of the IEEE 802.11 Working Group, said:

As wireless networks become more widely deployed, users are able to transition applications from fixed links to the convenience, freedom and versatility of wireless links. These transitions create an evolutionary demand to enhance the capacity of wireless networks in order to support the increasing number of users, as well as new classes of applications with higher bandwidth requirements.

Moreover, as WLAN usage of shared spectrum grows, the wireless access mechanisms need to be improved to achieve higher multi-user throughput. IEEE 802.11ac is intended to meet these evolving needs for higher data rates and to help enable new generations of data-intensive wireless applications.”

As ever the usual consumer rule of wifi performance applies, which says that you should only ever expect half or less than half of the advertised speeds from the first draft hardware (possibly due to hit later this year and during 2015). Never the less a slice of 7Gbps could still equate to more than a single Gigabit, which would easily be enough to cope with the top speeds that some fibre optic ISPs like Hyperoptic and B4RN are able to deliver using the latest 1Gbps (1000Mbps) FTTH/P services.

It’s worth remembering that the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE) are also working on an update to 802.11ad (WiGig), which aims to compliment wifi by providing short-range wireless networking speeds of up to 7Gbps (Gigabits per second) or potentially 25Gbps in the future via the unlicensed 60GHz radio spectrum band (typically 57-66GHz).

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This would be more secure and help to improve machine-to-machine connections (e.g. wireless flash drives for storage) but so far it’s the 802.11ac and now 802.11ac-2013 standard that has gained most of the commercial interest.

But whatever happens you’ll probably have to wait a few years for the ISPs to catch up because the big providers tend to prefer shipping budget model kit with their packages, which are usually a little further behind the curve.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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