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The Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has started work on WiFi the next generation. While that news in itself might not exactly rock your socks off, the small matter of a big speed increase might. Word is that WiFi TNG could be fast, very fast indeed. Anyone fancy some 1 gigabit per second wireless networking?

Of course, there are a couple of caveats for the average consumer that need to be thrown in the mix here: firstly any WiFi standard upgrade is at least a year or two away yet, and secondly just because your WiFi network will support gigabit speeds that doesn't mean the Internet connection feeding it will run any faster.

So why the excitement? Seriously speedy wireless network could herald the death of Ethernet, simple as that. Assuming the thing can be engineered to be both robust enough as well as quick enough, that is. Certainly 1 Gbps is fast enough as raw encoding rates go, but what about the reliability factor?

From what I can gather it could be a case of perm any one from three, with the three in question being speed, distance and robustness. So the technology can be tweaked to provide better range at the expense of throughput and reliability, or better reliability at the expense of throughput and range for example. However, providing a massive boost to all three would appear to be something of a fantasy right now.

That said, I applaud the IEEE for the work it is doing on 802.11ac and wish it all the best in getting that 1Gbps wireless that we all want, if not actually need. That said, I don't think that the reliable, rangy and speedy Gigabit Ethernet is going to be added to the endangered networks list any time soon.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by Chris Potter
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WiFi will likely never be able to completely replace wired Ethernet due to latency. Depending on the situation, latency is often more important than throughput.

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I'm not sure wired connections of any type will ever be completely replaced. There are just too many specialized throughput and latency requirements to do away with ultra-high speed interconnects. For the vast majority of network connectivity requirements, however, 802.11n was the first shot at replacing general purpose wired connectivity. If you assume that the corporate world is the primary driver of adoption or replacement, and the general use of the network in these environments is e-mail, web, voip, and some media, then 802.11n (and ultimately 802.11ac) will certainly prove to be the wholesale replacement for wired Ethernet.

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This can almost be considered as fact. This is true because not only is wireless networking convenient and all that is needed for general use purposes, it is convenient once more because of cost issues, too. Think of how many miles of wired ethernet has to go throughout just one business building. Wireless replaces all of this, thus saving thousands of dollars of cost. Wired etherned is definitely here to stay, yet wireless connection is the most convenient and cost-effective solution of businesses for the future.

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