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Wi-Fi Alliance gives blessing to speedy, exciting 802.11ac products

The Wi-Fi Alliance — the organisation responsible for certifying networking products — has announced it will start certifying 802.11ac products with its Wi-Fi Certified 11ac programme.

802.11ac is generating a lot of enthusiasm in the wireless networking industry due to its higher data rates, greater capacity, and reduced latency over 802.11n.

"Consumers have an insatiable appetite for rich, connected experiences," said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance. "Wi-Fi Certified ac advances the ability of Wi-Fi to satisfy that appetite by increasing capacity and improving performance, thus paving the way for new products and services that provide a great user experience."

802.11ac operates at the 5GHz band. Most Wi-Fi-certified products are likely to be dual-band, offering operation at either 2.4 or 5GHz. ABI Research predicts that shipment of dual-band Wi-Fi chipsets will exceed 1.5 billion by the end of next year. Dual-band networks are a significant improvement over single-band because with dual-band a network gets double capacity. This is because devices can use the less crowded 5-GHz band for high-performance applications, and the 2.4-GHz band for basic needs.

"Progression within the Wi-Fi industry has been driven primarily by applications in the mobile and connected home space," said Phil Solis, ABI Research analyst. "The latest generation of the technology, Wi-Fi Certified ac, preserves interoperability, which has been the foundation for the technology's success, and will enable product manufacturers to continue to explore new avenues for wireless connectivity."

Major networking vendors seek Wi-Fi Alliance certification to place on their products' packaging and marketing. A Wi-Fi Alliance certification indicates to consumers that a product meets all the requirements of the 802.11x standard they are built upon and that the Wi-Fi Alliance has tested the product. The certification also provides a widely recognised designation of interoperability and quality. Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 15,000 products.

Products that have recently been 11ac certified include chipsets from Broadcom and Realtek, as well as products from Cisco and Samsung. Wi-Fi-certified ac mobile devices, tablets, laptops, consumer electronics products, and networking gear will be available in the second half of this year.