In the CES demonstrations, the AirStation WZR-1750H with 11ac chips from Broadcom was delivering throughput of about 450Mbps, which is the maximum data rate for today's single-radio 3x3 802.11n configurations with 40MHz channels (11n throughput would be much less than that). Buffalo says the final product, due out in the latter half of this year, will surpass that throughput mark.
MORE FROM CES: Gigabit Wi-Fi takes center stage
The 11ac AirStation will incorporate a three-data-stream 11ac radio, which runs only in the 5GHz band and uses much wider channels than 11n radios. The IEEE is expected to finalize 802.11ac in 2013, but the Wi-Fi Alliance will begin certifying interoperability for these new products later this year, based on the near-final version of the standard. The router also will pack a second radio using 802.11n, also with three data streams but in the 2.4GHz band, for an additional 450Mbps data rate.
A combination of technologies, several of them building on features introduced in the 11n standard, account for the jump in the data rate. [see "CES: Gigabit Wi-Fi takes center stage"]. These include: multiple data streams (as found in 11n), the wide 80MHz channels, a denser modulation scheme, and beam-forming, which in effect focuses the energy more precisely to a given client. 11ac will deliver and sustain higher data rates for a given distance compared to 11n, and with beam-forming (which is only an option in 11n), should sustain signal quality as range increases.
Buffalo's 11ac radio will support three data streams and three transmit and three receive antennas. The company also plans to release a client adapter, presumably a plug-in, for PCs and other devices. Buffalo didn't go into more detail. Both the router and adapter will ship in the latter half of this year.
Finally, the company will also release this year an 11ac "media bridge," which will let Ethernet devices such as PCs, TV sets and media streaming devices connect to an 11ac network via four Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Buffalo, headquartered in Japan but with U.S. offices in Austin, Texas, didn't release pricing information.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: email@example.com Blog RSS feed: http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/2989/feed
Read more about anti-malware in Network World's Anti-malware section.