Okay, so there's a good chance that the developing 802.11ac Gigabit wireless standard will receive its official seal of approval long before 2048, but by 2015? Given that it took 802.11n a full seven years to move on from Draft N status, we aren't holding our collective breath. Regardless, there's obviously a need for a far faster interface than what we're using now, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is obviously doing everything it can to keep on keeping on. According to a loose study by In-Stat, Planet Earth will go from zero 802.11ac devices in 2010 to one billion by 2015, with Vice President of Research Frank Dickson noting that a draft of 802.11ac should be cleared at some point in 2011. As for backwards compatibility? Looks like you'll just have to wait and see.
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Zero to a Billion; 802.11ac-Enabled Device Shipments to Soar by 2015, Says In-Stat

SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- (Marketwire) -- 02/08/11 -- The continued quest for connectivity in a multitude of devices has now been joined by an additional requirement, an insatiable appetite for speed. 802.11ac is a new Wi-Fi technology standard developed to provide Gigabit speeds. In-Stat (www.in-stat.com), forecasts that the impact of this new standard will be equally as fast, as it will push shipments of 802.11ac-enabled devices from 0 in 2011 to nearly 1 billion by 2015.

"The goal of 802.11ac is to provide data speeds much faster than 802.11n, with speeds of around 1Gbps," says Frank Dickson, Vice President of Research. "The timing for 802.11ac approval is to have a draft standard created by 2011 and have the first 802.11ac products out by the end of 2012. The technology behind 802.11ac has not been finalized. However, it will likely involve bonding four or even eight channels together and some tweaks to the modulation scheme."

Some of the research findings include:

* Mobile devices with Wi-Fi will still dominate shipments. In 2015, shipments of mobile phones with embedded Wi-Fi are projected to approach 800 million.
* By 2015, In-Stat projects that 100% of mobile hotspot shipments will be 802.11ac-enabled.
* E-readers Wi-Fi attach rates will increase from 3% in 2009 to 90% by 2015.
* In 2012, Wi-Fi automotive shipments will reach nearly 20 million.

Recent In-Stat research, Wireless LAN Market Estimates and Forecast by Device and by Technology 2009-2015 (#IN1105001WS) covers the worldwide market for WLAN by device and by technology. The research includes:

* Forecasts of WLAN chipset units by market application segment and by 802.11b/g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac
* Segmentation for computing equipment, including Internet tablets, netbooks, and notebooks
* Segmentation for networking equipment, including access points, external adapters, gateways, and routers
* Segmentation for stationary consumer electronics (CE), including audio receivers, Blu-ray players, digital media adapters, digital picture frames, digital televisions, DVD players, gaming consoles, networked-attached storage, personal video recorders, and set-top boxes
* Segmentation for PC peripherals, including ink jet and laser printers
* Segmentation for portable CE, including digital cameras, handheld games, personal digital assistants (PDAs), portable media players (PMPs), and portable video camcorders
* Segmentation for mobile handsets, mobile hotspots, and automotive applications
* Segmentation for medical/industrial applications