The huge data rate increase will enable wireless in these unlicensed bands to speedily transfer vastly larger video, photos and data files, or to transfer the same amount of data in a fraction of the time compared to 11n and the still older 11g connections. And "advances in technology inherent in 802.11ac should result in improved range, reliability, coverage, and battery life over .11n," according to Network World wireless blogger Craig Mathias.
"I'm expecting very rapid uptake of 802.11ac once products are available," Mathias writes. "I don't expect much of a price increase over 802.11n ..."
First products are just months away.
Chipmaker Broadcom last week announced that samples of its new family of 11ac chips are in the hands of a range of customers, including carriers. The company offers chips that support one, two and three data streams, with data rates respectively of 433Mbps, 867Mbps and 1.3Gbps. The press release quotes executives from nearly a dozen equipment manufacturers and other vendors, from Asus to ZTE.
Several vendors, such as Buffalo Technology, will be running 11ac "technology demonstrations" using the Broadcom chips at CES, and some of them will be announcing products for release later in 2012, perhaps as early as mid-year. The Wi-Fi Alliance is expected to make an 11ac announcement, likely dealing with the organization's planned certification of products implementing the new very high-throughput Wi-Fi standards.
Buffalo Technology has said it will show a technology demonstration of a 5GHz product late Monday night, Jan. 9, Las Vegas time, but declined to go into details beforehand. The product uses Broadcom's new family of 802.11ac chips.
(Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek revealed details of a powerful new system-on-a-chip that's designed to handle processing and other chores for new gigabit Wi-Fi access points and routers using 802.11ac radio chips, including MediaTek's own.)