Stock-outs of Apple's AirPort Extreme could hint at new 802.11ac model

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Availability of the AirPort Extreme base station has run out at some major third-party resellers, potentially signaling that an updated model with support for 802.11ac could be en route.

As of Monday, the online stores of both Amazon and Best Buy were out of stock of Apple's AirPort Extreme Wireless Base Station. Limited availability of the AirPort Extreme comes as Apple is gearing up for a major holiday shopping season, where the company is expected to introduce numerous new products.

Limited availability of Apple hardware is often a sign that the company is phasing out current models in anticipation of the debut of updated hardware. The AirPort Extreme was last given a minor spec bump in June of 2011, when it gained a 2.8 times power boost for stronger Wi-Fi connections.

AppleInsider first reported in January that Apple could begin deploying support for the new 802.11ac specification this year, adding so-called "Gigabit Wi-Fi" to new AirPort base stations.

AirPort Extreme


The 802.11ac standard is the latest revision of Wi-Fi, but it has not yet been formally adopted, and isn't expected to be ratified until early next year. The lack of finalization and 802.11ac-compatible devices on the market has not, however, stopped some companies from publicly releasing the first 802.11ac routers this year.

Client devices compatible with the 802.11ac standard are expected to be available by the end of this year, with widespread adoption picking up in 2013. But Apple has a history of being ahead of the curve with the release of new wireless standards.

In January of 2007, Apple announced that its new AirPort base stations and Apple TV set-top box included support for draft 802.11n specifications that had not yet been finalized. The company also secretly included support for "draft-n" in its previously released Core 2 Duo Macs.



Apple's support for 802.11n came nearly three years ahead of the formal ratification of the Wi-Fi standard in October of 2009.

While still officially under development, 802.11ac promises initial speeds of around a gigabit, which is significantly faster than the 450-megabit speeds that can be achieved with the current standard, 802.11n. The new Wi-Fi standard will also keep network performance at high levels when multiple devices are connected to the same router.
«134

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 75
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Limited availability of the AirPort Extreme comes as Apple is gearing up for a major fall, where the company is expected to introduce numerous new products.


    Really? Perhaps Fall quarter?

  • Reply 2 of 75
    Does this mean the iPhone 5 might get it too?
  • Reply 3 of 75
    Wireless hula hoop! I want one.
  • Reply 4 of 75
    time to get the last gen refurb
  • Reply 5 of 75
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post



    Does this mean the iPhone 5 might get it too?


    Well, if all rumors are correct and we get an iPad Mini and rMBP 13" plus refreshes of iPod models including Wifi added to the nano...then this would be a very good time to upgrade to 802.11ac.  Purportedly as fast as CAT5 connections over Wifi.  Would be just what the iPads/iPods/iPhones and MB's need for that extra something over everyone else...not that they need any more help.


     


    Sucks for me since I just upgraded to the AP Ext. a few months ago.


     


    Addition: I'm kind of surprised they didn't adopt it in the July Macbook refresh.  That would be my only queue that we won't see 802.11ac until next year's refresh.

  • Reply 6 of 75
    Or they might just ditch it. Airport Express now looks pretty similar to Aiport Extreme, so they might just go along with one of them.
  • Reply 7 of 75
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member
    I was wondering when they were going to announce 802.11ac. Linksys and others have announced routers, but I'm not sure how well they are selling. Obviously the final specs have not been finalized, but I'm sure if they announce something ahead of time, they either know what the final specs are or can alter it with Firmware if need be.

    Either way, 802.11ac is MUCH needed.
  • Reply 8 of 75

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Hands Sandon View Post



    Does this mean the iPhone 5 might get it too?


     



    I would highly doubt it.  For one, it's not needed, 802.11n is plenty fast for a phone especially when it's still faster than the fastest LTE networks today.  Also, the iPhone never got the fastest wifi connectivity in the past for its time.  e.g. The iPhone 3GS still only had 802.11g when 802.11n had been in use for years, but not ratified (finally) for a few more months after the 3GS introduction.  802.11ac hasn't been ratified yet, so I don't think it would be used in an iPhone till then and until most networks are already using the new standard for compatibility reasons and not necessarily speed.  (Though backward compatibility has been pretty good since 802.11g anyway.)  


     


    The iPhone is going to use the least power hungry Wifi radios, and right now I'm sure it's the current 802.11n (2.4 GHz only) radio.

  • Reply 9 of 75
    hodarhodar Posts: 338member


    Ok ... overkill.  802.11n gives you dual band and 450 Mbps goodness - with great range.  Now, if you are sitting on a SSD RAID and feel the need to stream dozens of 1080p video to a couple dozen HDTV sets in your house - then perhaps this is for you.  Face it, whether you are a fan of DSL or cable - neither of these deliver half the bandwidth that 802.11ac utilizes.  Even the much vaunted Google Fiber, which may have 1 Gbps on the local network - will have bandwith much lower than this.  I'm luck to see 16 Mbps on my cable - and my hard drives are incapable of supporting more than quick bursts of speeds anywhere close to what the 802.11n standard gives.


     


    Until we see ISP's offering bandwidths 10-50x faster than they are currently delivering - this is a standard that just doesn't make any sense.


     


    That said ... I still want one.

  • Reply 10 of 75
    There is only one thing I need from the AE, more than 3 ethernet ports! But I am sure, Apple, in its quest to make everything smaller/thinner without regard to the needs of the people that are actually using it, will probably drop all wired ports.

    Rant over...cool 802.11ac.

    -kpluck

    P.S. on a completely unrelated note, my god does the site redesign suck.
  • Reply 11 of 75
    hodarhodar Posts: 338member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by drblank View Post



    ... 802.11ac is MUCH needed.


    For what?  Perhaps commercial use, but the Apple routers are not designed for heavy industrial/commercial use (ie. Hospitals, factories, businesses).  Your best ISP is still stuck at speeds that make 802.11n seem about a decade ahead of their time.


     


    Now, if you have a bunch of SSD's in a RAID configuration (you will not see sustained Gigabit datarates with non-SSD drives) and feel the need to stream more than 6 streams of 1080p video, simultaneously - then 802.11ac should work well.  But, if you only have a a few streams of 1080p video you have to watch simulatneously - the 802.11n should work just fine.

  • Reply 12 of 75


    I wonder if they will also tweak the "new iPad" (so-called iPad 3), to include this after a certain manufacturing date.


     


    Typically, when everyone is at home -- we have 3-6 iPads going most afternoons and evenings -- so this would be a real boon for households with many iDevices.


     


    In another thread I speculated that one of the reasons for the "new iPad" name was to allow tweaking of device capabilities between major releases.


     



    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


    I have been thinking about this a bit since the new iPad was announced as "the new iPad" instead of the "iPad 3".


     


    Apple, obviously, made an overt effort to remove the generational number from the iPad... similar to the way Apple names other products -- it's an iMac 27" not an iMac 27" 2 (or 2012), and a MacBook Air...


     


    Why would they do that?  


     


    I can think of several reasons:



    • delink the device from a presumed [annual] release cycle


    • allow [more] configuration/bundlng options within the device 


    • delink the device from major technology availability


    • allow intermediate upgrades


    • allow more flexibility in manufacturing, distribution and pricing


    • be more aggressive competitively


     


    You can probably think of a few other reasons.


     


    It will be interesting if the Wednesday announcement includes the "the new iPhone"  or the "iPhone 5" (6, or whatever).


     


     




     


    This, faster WiFi, would also differentiate the iPad(s) from the latest Amazon, Google and MS (whatever, whenever) announcements.

  • Reply 13 of 75


    Ugh, now I have to find someone to whom I can sell our as-yet-unused current-gen model… Knew I shouldn't have bought it until we got the house rewired. 

  • Reply 14 of 75
    When none of their Macs support it? With the iPhone & iPad not being able to utilize it? I reckon if their new iMac refresh had the hardware it could be possible.

    I'd rather they did a PoE Express. I'd buy 4 at launch.
  • Reply 15 of 75


    Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

    When none of their Macs support it?


     


    Yes. How do you think standards get adopted? And we don't know if they don't support it; Apple might be able to "turn on" 802.11ac on the newest models like they did with N.

  • Reply 16 of 75

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Hodar View Post


    Ok ... overkill.  802.11n gives you dual band and 450 Mbps goodness - with great range.  Now, if you are sitting on a SSD RAID and feel the need to stream dozens of 1080p video to a couple dozen HDTV sets in your house - then perhaps this is for you.  Face it, whether you are a fan of DSL or cable - neither of these deliver half the bandwidth that 802.11ac utilizes.  Even the much vaunted Google Fiber, which may have 1 Gbps on the local network - will have bandwith much lower than this.  I'm luck to see 16 Mbps on my cable - and my hard drives are incapable of supporting more than quick bursts of speeds anywhere close to what the 802.11n standard gives.


     


    Until we see ISP's offering bandwidths 10-50x faster than they are currently delivering - this is a standard that just doesn't make any sense.


     


    That said ... I still want one.



     


    Our household video library of 1,000 videos resides on a Promise Pegasus 12 TB RAID attached to the latest iMac 27" with Thunderbolt.  This can be feeding up to 7 iPads (more likely 3 or 4) at any given time.  We also have NetFlix and Hulu Streaming from the Internet.  I think this would be a boon for the next 5 years. 


     


    If the new iMacs, Airports and iPads have this -- we will probably upgrade.

  • Reply 17 of 75
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    kpluck wrote: »
    ...on a completely unrelated note, my god does the site redesign suck.

    I agree.

    AI needs more ads on the front page. They may not realise it but they appear to have left a complete section in the middle that actually has useful information and content (apart from the fact that some of the text appears to be in a hard-to-read one 'Retina-pixel' wide font only). ;-)

    And they really don't seem to like iOS devices, do they?
  • Reply 18 of 75
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Ugh, now I have to find someone to whom I can sell our as-yet-unused current-gen model… Knew I shouldn't have bought it until we got the house rewired. 

    eBay is your friend.

    A greedy little fee-charging friend, but a friend nonetheless. ;-)
  • Reply 19 of 75


    The 6th Generation AE (Airport Extreme) will support the new 5th Generation 5G WiFi based on the new 802.11AC standard; which is expected to remain in draft until next year.  Broadcom already has a chip to utilize this called BCM4335.  My prediction is that the first Apple product to utilize this will be the iPad IV in March 2013.

  • Reply 20 of 75
    Yes. How do you think standards get adopted? And we don't know if they don't support it; Apple might be able to "turn on" 802.11ac on the newest models like they did with N.

    Maybe.

    Not this way.

    Teardowns would have revealed the ac chipsets. Broadcom debuted the mobile versions in late july. Teardown info I read on the 2012 MBs still had a BC n solution. I looked for it when debating on a Retina 15" purchase and figured I'd hold off till the subtle refresh in Q1. And isn't the wifi on the iPad being fronted by an SD I/O interface? That won't approach n speeds.
Sign In or Register to comment.