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802.11ac Wi-Fi standard to experience strong growth

Jack Loo | June 28, 2013
New standards 802.11ac and 802.11ad can cause interesting design choices: ABI Research

ABI Research has predicted that new Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac will gain significant adoption by mobile devices.

Over 3.5 billion Wi-Fi chipsets with 802.11ac will ship in 2018, according to ABI Research.

The Wi-Fi Alliance is just about to start certification of products using the protocol, yet its shipments have started and are already on track to distribute hundreds of millions this year. Apple is introducing the standard in its new products for the second half of the year.

802.11ac finally pushes Wi-Fi more towards the 5 GHz spectrum which is cleaner and allows for the much larger channel sizes for greater speeds and capacity.

"The push towards 11ac adoption overpowers the minor additional cost of dual-band 802.11n/802.11ac chipsets that will be used in smartphones," said research director Philip Solis from ABI Research.

Meanwhile, another new Wi-FI standard 802.11ad will move from larger to smaller products, starting from peripherals and larger non-handset mobile devices and shift to smaller and thinner devices over time, said ABI Research.

Over 1.5 billion chipsets with 802.11ad will ship in 2018. 802.11ad pushes Wi-Fi into higher-speed, lower-power personal area networking that will be used simultaneously with other Wi-Fi protocols.

"As the complexity of Wi-Fi increases, heading towards tri-band 802.11n/802.11ac/802.11ad chipsets, interesting design tradeoffs can be made to optimise cost, size, and functionality," said Solis. "Choices can be made around the support of 80 MHz or 160 MHz channel and MIMO configurations based on whether or not 802.11ad is included. Smaller antennae arrays can also be used to save space."


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