Both Broadcom and Quantenna are working on chips to dramatically increase 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but in the true sense of the term, there's simply no such thing as "future proofing." Take for example the draft 802.11ac standard. You can go out and buy the fastest consumer router avaiable today (a tossup between the Asus RT-AC66U/AC68U and Netgear R7000) and by this time next year, we'll likely have a new speed king. In fact, the efforts of two competing companies -- Broadcom and Quantenna -- all but ensure it. Both companies recently announced new chipsets that will make today's routers look pokey by comparison.
Downloading content from a mile high is going to get a whole lot faster thanks to Gogo, which is working on increasing peak speeds more than seven-fold. Using low-profile, high efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas, Gogo expects in-flight Wi-Fi service to deliver peak speeds of more than 70Mbps by the middle of next year. That's pretty impressive, considering Gogo rolled out technology to increase peak speeds to 9.8Mbps a year ago.
Another high performance router option in the 802.11ac space
If you've been putting off upgrading your home network, now is a good time to finally upgrade your hardware, starting with your router. Wireless-AC is here (still in Draft form, but we've run into very few quirks with the routers we've tested to date) and it can make a world of difference in your home network, even if you own a Wireless-N router. You have a growing number of options to choose from, including Trendnet's new TEW-818DRU dual-band router, which is the company's new flagship consumer model.
The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) scored a big win by adding its first major PC OEM to its ranks. That OEM is Dell, which joins an A4WP alliance that's over 80 members strong. Quite a few heavy hitters are part of the group, including Broadcomm, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, Fujitsu, HTC, LG, Panasonic, SanDisk, and more. The group's goal is to standardize a wireless power transfer protocol using near-field magnetic resonance technology.
Cable companies and tech firms like Microsoft share a common goal
A coalition of cable companies and well known technology firms has been formed to address the "Wi-Fi spectrum crunch" and to lobby Washington to free up unlicensed spectrum. The coaltion is called WifiForward and it includes cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable (which Comcast is trying to acquire), and Charter Communications, along with technology firms like Microsoft, Google, and Broadcom.
Wireless carriers are currently engaged in a high stakes game of one-upmanship as they each try to add more subscribers by offering increasingly tantalizing offers. Sprint's strategy was literally called "One Up," the name it gave to an early upgrade program it introduced just four months ago. One Up customers could purchase an eligible smartphone with no down payment (depending on the device) and spread out the full retail cost over 24 monthly installment payments. In exchange, One Up customers could upgrade their handset every 12 months and start the process anew. Now the program is no more.
The transition to Wireless-AC networks is happening at a pretty brisk pace. We just recently wrapped up a roundup of several 802.11ac routers (you'll find it in the upcoming March issue of Maximum PC), and as CES kicks into full swing, even more AC routers are being announced. Buffalo just added three to the growing pile of options, including the AirStation Extreme AC 1900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router WXR-1900DHP, AirStation 1200 Dual Band Wireless Router WHR-1166D, and the AirStation AC433 Wireless Travel Router WMR-433.
Belkin has big plans for its Linksys acquisition, and it includes positioning the brand as an enthusiast name. More than just lip service, Linksys announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it's bringing back one of the best selling routers of all time, the WRT54G, and giving it a makeover for the modern day Internet. Now known as the WRT1900AC, this dual-band wireless router wields a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM-based processor inside its familiar blue and black stackable chassis.
All is fair in love and war, and even though AT&T once tried courting T-Mobile to the tune of $39 billion before regulators shot down the deal, these one-time wireless BFFs are back to being rivals. In case you thought AT&T might go soft on T-Mobile, the former isn't pulling any punches on the latter, having today announced it will pay T-Mobile subscribers up to $450 per line if they switch.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston denied Asus' request to dismiss a lawsuit brought on by Netgear accusing the company of reporting misleading information related to the signal strength of its wireless routers, which if true would be in violation of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Asus' motion to dismiss was scheduled for a hearing, but Judge Illston denied the motion last Thursday.