Apple was the first computer manufacturer to popularize Wi-Fi, pioneering the adoption of the early 802.11b standard, then 802.11g, and raising the speed limit with 802.11n in 2007. Now AppleInsider is reporting that the company is expected to start providing support for the "Gigabit Wi-Fi" 802.11ac standard in 2012.
To provide lightning-fast wireless networking, 802.11ac uses up to four times the frequency bandwidth (up to 160 MHz), more antennas (up to eight; existing Macs use up to three), and hyper-efficient data transfers through more sophisticated modulation schemes.
The standard hasn't yet been approved by the 802.11 Working Group, but things are moving along at a fast clip. Many suppliers, including Apple component manufacturer Broadcom, have announced 802.11ac chipsets. The new equipment not only provides network speeds above 1 Gigabit per second (about three times the speed of existing 802.11n networks), but also offers improved reliability, better power efficiency, and more range.
When the changes come, they'll most likely first appear in the form of new AirPort base stations and a new Time Capsule, and then start rolling out to new Mac models and mobile devices. Where the new technology will have the biggest impact is in the user of other Apple technologies such as AirPlay, AirPlay Mirroring, and AirDrop.
Now aren't you glad you didn't run Ethernet cabling all over your house?