Wi-Fi Alliance® launched its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ ac certification program. Building on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products deliver whole-home coverage at two or even three times the speed of older Wi-Fi products and handle demanding applications such as Ultra HD and 4K video, multimedia, and rapid file transfer with ease, according to Wi-Fi Alliance in a press release.

“Consumers have an insatiable appetite for rich, connected experiences," said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of 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.”

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products arrive at a time when Wi-Fi use has exploded and adoption of demanding applications is on the rise, according to Wi-Fi Alliance. Recent polling conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Wi-Fi Alliance reflects a number of relevant trends:

  • The number of Wi-Fi devices in U.S. households has doubled over the past five years.
  • There is an average of four devices now connected to the home Wi-Fi network during peak usage times.
  • Sixty percent of U.S. respondents indicated they are using Wi-Fi for multimedia applications more now than they were three years ago.
  • Among young people (18-24 years of age), Wi-Fi is more essential than traditional forms of entertainment — 69 percent of respondents in that age group said that a Wi-Fi outage would be more disruptive than a television outage in their home.

The certification program is based on technology defined in the IEEE 802.11ac standard. According to Wi-Fi Alliance this results in:

  • Higher data rates – Networks based on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac can deliver data rates up to more than double those of a typical Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n network. For users, this means a network can support simultaneously streaming multiple HD-quality videos to multiple devices.
  • Greater capacity – More devices can be simultaneously connected to a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac network without reducing performance.
  • Reduced latency – Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products can deliver a higher-quality user experience with applications such as gaming or streaming music, where even the slightest delay can have a detrimental impact.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac operates in 5 GHz, where devices can make use of increased bandwidth to achieve a higher data rate. Most Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products are also expected to be dual-band, operating in both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, and to support Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n in the 2.4 GHz frequency band. Adoption of dual-band products has been on the rise in recent years, and is expected to increase with the introduction of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac. Dual-band networks double capacity, because devices can use the less crowded 5 GHz band for high performance applications, and the 2.4 GHz band for basic needs.

Wi-Fi has continued to evolve to meet users’ data and usage demands and to improve access to content, without sacrificing core competencies like interoperability and security. ABI Research predicts that shipments of dual-band Wi-Fi chipsets – including both Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac - will exceed 1.5 billion by the end of 2014.

“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.”

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac mobile devices, tablets, laptops, consumer electronics products and networking gear will be available in the second half of this year. Enterprise environments and industrial applications will follow the consumer product adoption and will also benefit from higher performance for data intensive applications.

The first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products which form the test suite for the certification program are:

  • Broadcom BCM4360 5G WiFi Single Chip MAC/PHY/Radio for Clients and Routers
  • Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260
  • Marvell Avastar 88W8897 AP Reference Design
  • Marvell Avastar 88W8897 STA Reference Design
  • Mediatek Dual Band 802.11ac Reference Access Point
  • Mediatek Dual Band 802.11ac Reference STA
  • Qualcomm® VIVE™ 802.11ac 3-stream Dual-band, Dual-concurrent Router
  • Qualcomm® VIVE™ 802.11ac 3-stream, PCIe Client
  • Realtek RTL8197D+RTL8188AR+RTL8192CE AP/Router
  • Realtek RTL8812AE HMC card

The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED program was launched in March 2000. It provides a designation of interoperability and quality, and it helps to ensure that Wi-Fi-enabled products deliver the best user experience. Wi-Fi Alliance has certified more than 15,000 products.

More information, including a list of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products, white papers, FAQ, and more is available at www.wi-ficertifiedac.com .