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High-Speed Wi-Fi? Not So Fast

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The Wi-Fi symbol.

Most end-users will need to wait for broadband speeds to increase before they can take advantage of the newest version of Wi-Fi, which promises speeds three times as fast as the previous version.


The next-generation Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, will hit the market this year offering speeds three times as fast as those of its predecessor, but most people will have to wait for broadband speeds to increase before they have access to the increased throughput.

The new standard can handle more than a billion bits of data per second, enabling users to download an entire season of a TV series in under one minute. However, the average U.S. fixed Internet connection maxes out at about 32 Mbps, which is 40 times slower than new 802.11ac devices offer, according to Akamai Technologies.

Although telecoms are working to boost bandwidth for major customers, their efforts have been slow. Nonetheless, users will notice increased speeds with the next-generation Wi-Fi, which uses a less-encumbered section of radio spectrum, thereby eliminating interference from many electronic devices that now share the airwaves.

This spring, before the standard is even complete, companies are releasing routers, smartphones, and laptops that support 802.11ac, creating uncertainty around the new equipment because the rules that govern the devices' communication could change. Analysts say the earliest adopters of the new standards will be office buildings and convention centers.

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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