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Super-fast WiFi arrives, occupies 5GHz band

The first trickle of 802.11ac products are now hitting the market with many more expected. Vendors such as Meru Networks, which is selling what it claims is the industry's fastest 802.11ac enterprise Access Point, are now in full marketing mode, as is Amped Wireless, which specialises in high-power, long-range wireless and has launched what it claims is the first long-range ac adapter for computers.

But in many ways the WiFi daddy is Apple. Typically Apple's gone all stylish with 802.11ac to produce what looks like a high-rise version of the previous 802.11n Time Capsule to make its 802.11ac debut with both a high-speed WiFi router and a two terabyte storage to match.

Apple has always been a big WiFi fan mostly, it's thought, because Jobs held telcos in low esteem and was always looking for another way. In fact he is alleged to have planned, at least for a brief period, to do what became the iPhone as a WiFi-only device,

And what of 802.11ac. It's going to provide a huge boost to WiFi. This version - a few years in the planning now. (see - Growing WLAN demand sets stage for 802.11ac shipments) takes WiFi up to the 5 Gigahertz zone where it makes use of much faster link speeds - from 433 Mbit/s up to a gigabit/s and beyond.

As well as being able to play with multiple channels of high-frequency spectrum, the technology also exploits beam-forming to concentrate its fire in a particular direction freeing up the ether to carry traffic from adjacent WiFi nodes without interference.

So at short range especially, 802.11ac is likely to keep WiFi ahead of the game.

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