Modern wireless technologies
We are now almost two decades into the third millennium, and more than 25 years away from the moment when wireless networks were invented. And yet, for some strange reason, we can't say that we've seen too much progress in this area since 2013, when the 802.11ac standard has been introduced. Here's a graphic which shows the way in which data transfer speed has evolved along the years. Source: Data Alliance.
© Center for Analysis and Forecasting
All Rights Reserved.
It is true that we also went through several wireless security protocols, starting with WEP, WPA, WPA2, and each one of them had at least a few patches, but let's be frank for a moment and admit that besides a minor speed increase, the Wi-Fi world wasn't rocked by anything revolutionary since 2013.
A significant Wi-Fi data transfer speed increase is highly desirable, because things have significantly changed since the moment that wireless networks have been invented.
First, people have purchased wireless able devices in larger and larger numbers. It is estimated that people living in the average US home own seven or eight Wi-Fi devices, and standard routers haven't been built with that idea in mind. So, one of the key problems that need to be addressed apart from getting higher data transfer speeds, is an overall network capacity increase.
Then, we are using much more data today. We have gotten used to streaming HD movies and playing high-end online games, rather than downloading them and running them locally.
Fortunately, researchers are doing something about it. The new 802.11ax standard is supposed to fix at least a part of this problem, increasing network capacities by 400%. As a bonus, data transfer speeds will be increased from 433 Mbps to 600 Mbps. However, the first chips that will make use of this new standard will only be released in a few years.
What about security? Researchers have recently discovered a flaw in the WPA2 protocol, which has affected pretty much any operating system. It is true that the main targets were Android and Linux so far, but no operating system was 100% safe.
By making use of this vulnerability, the attackers are able to read data that was sent using the less secure HTTP protocol. A WPA2 patch is (reportedly) on the way, but things may not be that easy. Wireless hardware manufacturers may prefer to use this opportunity to sell more of their new, already patched products, rather than fix the existing ones.
Wi-Fi Alliance, the non-profit organization that certifies Wi-Fi products, plans to release WPA3 in the near future, with the goal of fixing all these newly discovered security issues. The new data encryption protocol is supposed to help even devices that use weak passwords stay secure. It's amazing how many people continue to use weak passwords like "1234" and "abc" for their wireless networks, even though most of them understand that a weak password can cause serious problems.
Often, people use simple passwords because they are afraid that they'll forget them. There are so many password manager applications, though, and most of them will even run on mobile devices! So, if you're still using a password like "monkey" for your Wi-Fi network, WPA3 may help a bit. However, it is much wiser to change it, replacing it with a much more complex pass right now.
According to Wi-Fi Alliance, WPA3 should also make it easy to connect simple IoT devices, which don't have their own displays, to wireless networks. Hopefully, the system will be as easy to use as WPS, and (unlike it) won't introduce other security problems. Finally, WPA3 will use 192-bit security to encrypt your data, a level of protection that's similar with the one used by governments.
It's all good news, it seems, but just like with 802.11ax, we'll have to wait for a few years until we see the new standard in place. My guess is that it'll be impossible to use WPA3 on older hardware, but fortunately wireless equipment will continue to be relatively inexpensive, making it easy for most of us to upgrade our devices.
Apple will soon release a "breakthrough wireless speaker", which is supposed to provide an incredible listening experience.
It works in conjunction with an Apple Music subscription, and uses your voice to search and find the desired music tracks, read the news, get the weather details, and more.
I like this idea a lot, but I wonder whether the 7-inch tall speaker will have enough bass to please every person. I assume that due to its seven tweeters, high frequency reproduction isn't going to be a problem. More info.