When 11n launched back in 2006, there was overwhelming hype for the new standard. Anticipation for the technical benefits of 802.11n caused a race to be the first, and that meant taking some short-cuts. As a result, this rush to market diminished interoperability and performance in the first products to hit the market. It also meant a step-back in integration. Remember the first 11n clients were dongles that you had to stick in the side of your laptop? We think consumers want the performance of a new standard, along with advances in integration and power consumption.
With this new standard speeding around the corner (a billion 11ac Wi-Fi devices by 2015), will we see history repeat itself? Perhaps there may be some companies who blast out of the gates just to be able to say: “We’re first!” But that’s old thinking. The new 11ac standard requires a different process this time around.
For the 11ac launch, Qualcomm Atheros is taking a more mature approach. Certainly we played our part in the industry hubbub that surrounded the launch of 11n, but it seems the vibe is different this time around. With the development of 11ac (in which we’re playing a large role), there is a spirit of collaboration that didn’t exist with the launch of 11n. The process is more open and transparent, which allows many voices to be heard, making 11ac a much better, cleaner and implementable standard than 11n.
Bringing Forth a New Paradigm for 11ac
For 11ac, Qualcomm Atheros is focusing on the needs of our customers by delivering a full ecosystem of products so end consumers can derive the real benefits of 11ac with end-to-end connections.
Instead of developing a single, multipurpose device that isn’t optimized for any single platform, we’re developing and delivering multiple different solutions that enable the unique characteristics of the broad range of Wi-Fi devices that customers demand. These solutions include single-antenna clients for mobile devices, dual-antenna products ready for PCs and TVs, and three antenna devices optimized for high-end clients and APs. The ultimate goal: to transmit data and media content more effectively and make Gigabit Wi-Fi prevalent across many different products and platforms.
Qualcomm Atheros plans to deliver millions of mobile (smartphone and tablet) devices with 11ac into the marketplace. Our implementation of 11ac will solve the difficult problems of power consumption, size, and cost of the new standard, right from the start. No short-cuts this time. This also means Retail AP/Router and Enterprise AP customers will be able to rest easy knowing there will be plenty of devices that can talk the new protocol with their new APs.
With 11ac, the industry will be faced with the same challenges that we encountered with 11n – integration, power consumption, interoperability, and the race to be first. Will some make the mistakes of the past? Probably. But at Qualcomm Atheros, we’re moving the bar forward in terms of performance with wider bandwidth 11ac, and giving customers the tangible benefits they want – certified interoperability, integration, seamless connectivity, power consumption, and more.