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January 31, 2012 - Dave Hecei

The current wireless networking standard in all Macs and Apple iOS devices is 802.11n. Over the years, we have gone through the alphabet with WiFi protocols. It started with ‘b’ then ‘a’ and a jump to ‘g’ and now ‘n’. While b was pretty slow in today’s standards (11Mbs), the latest n can run up to 450Mbs – theoretically. A new Gigabit WiFi standard is coming soon, and Apple wants to be there at the start.

Apple has plenty to gain by adopting a super-fast WiFi network. Back in 1999 when Apple introduced the first Airport devices, people wanted to access the Internet wirelessly. High-speed Internet was just starting and you were lucky if you were getting over 0.5Mbs.

Today, the Internet is only a part of a wireless network. With gaming machines, tablet computers, media set top boxes, video is becoming a large part of wireless traffic. Web pages, email, and even music won’t tax a wireless connection. Video, on the other hand, can choke it if there isn’t enough throughput. Another benefit would be for those who have Apple’s Time Capsule, a network based backup solution for Macs.

There is a new standard and it was show at this years CES (Consumer Electronics Show). One standard being shown, and a likely candidate for the next generation of Airport devices, is This new standard uses higher frequencies and multiple antennas to get a top end just over 1Gbps.

Having this much speed in a wireless connection is just what Apple needs to put inside their Apple TV 2 device, or should I say the next one – the Apple TV 3. Of course to get the most out of this new WiFi standard, you will need a new WiFi router and adapters for all your computers. The next versions of the Apple TV, iPhone, Touch, iPad, and MacBooks will likely have the new chips built in.

Just like the other WiFi standards, the new gigabit protocol should be backwards compatible with n, g, and b. There has been not announcement from Apple, but the chips should be ready by April, which is when the new processors should be available from Intel. Looks like spring will bring Ivy Bridge and Gigabit WiFi this year.


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