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Apple pushes three-times-faster Wi-Fi to new base station, MacBook Air laptops

Matt Hamblen | June 12, 2013
Analysts expect speedier 802.11ac Wi-Fi to surface in more Apple products, including the next iPhone

Still, Gold and others credited Apple with staying ahead of the innovation curve and recognizing the value of hoigh speed in-home Wi-Fi.

Support for 802.11ac was just one of a number of innovations Apple officials announced at WWDC on Monday. The moves offer insight to what it takes for a market leader like Apple to remain competitive, analysts say.

"It's harder and harder to stay ahead when you already have something successful," Gold said. "And its easier to sell hardware innovations than software."

What some customers will notice with 802.11ac is that the Wi-Fi network can be literally hundreds of times speedier than the backhaul feeding into a mall, airport, business or home. A conventional T-1 line, usually a wired copper connection, connects a business location to an Internet provider at speeds of just 1.544 Mbps, more than 500 times slower than the theoretical top 802.11ac speed.

"The choke point for Internet connections is still the backhaul, not the Wi-Fi zone inside your home," Gold said. "It's like if you are driving on the Mass Pike and 12 lanes come down to just three at the toll booth."

Unless Wi-Fi is used to support a peer-to-peer connection, with all peers using a common Wi-Fi network, 802.11ac can still face significant slow points over a backhaul link, added Phillip Redman, an analyst at Gartner.

Redman said that except for video and the largest files, many users won't easily notice the faster speed of 802.11ac compared to 802.11n, even though it is three times faster. "Most of the time, you probably won't notice any difference with 802.11ac," he said.

 

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