O'Grady's PowerPage » wireless

Apple posts job openings for 802.11ac engineers

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Date: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013, 08:37
Category: Hardware, News, wireless

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Apple’s looking to bring the 802.11ac protocol to the Mac this year.

Now it just needs the people to do it.

Per AppleBitch, a new job listing by the company advertises a position for engineers experienced with Gigabit Wi-Fi.

The mention of 802.11ac comes from a new job posting listed by the company on Sunday, first highlighted by AppleBitch. The role of “System Test Engineer” will be based at Apple’s corporate Campus in Cupertino, Calif., and focuses on Wi-Fi connectivity.

In the job listing, Apple notes that the position requires “technical knowledge” of the Wi-Fi standard in all forms, including the next-generation 802.11ac. The ideal candidate will include “experience on consumer-facing hardware/software products.”

The new job posting comes only days after a rumor surfaced claiming that Apple plans to add Gigabit Wi-Fi to its 2013 Mac lineup. The so-called “5G Wi-Fi” standard offers up to 1.3Gbps data transfers with a three-antenna design.

Current Macs and other Apple devices feature 802.11n networking, the current industry standard for Wi-Fi. That allows transfers of up to 450Mbps with three antennas — a feat that 802.11ac can accomplish with just one antenna.

Apple is rumored to have struck a deal with Broadcom to potentially debut 802.11ac in this year’s Macs. The Broadcom chips reportedly remain in development and are not yet available to use.

Apple has a history of being on the cutting edge with Wi-Fi — it was among the first to bring Wi-Fi to the masses in 1999, while Apple secretly included support for the “Draft-N” specification in some of its devices in 2006 before the 802.11n standard was officially ratified.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple inks deal with Broadcom, will bring 802.11ac functionality to 2013 Macs

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, 09:30
Category: Hardware, Rumor, wireless

This could lead to something nifty.

Per The Next Web, Apple has reportedly struck a deal with Broadcom that will place superfast 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips in its 2013 Mac lineup.

Sources familiar with the deal indicated that the forthcoming industry standard for Wi-Fi will appear in Apple’s lineup this year. The so-called “5G Wi-Fi” offers up to 1.3Gbps data with a three-antenna design.

Apple has reportedly shown interest in the past of being an early adopter of 801.11ac technology, but the “Gigabit Wi-Fi” technology has yet to appear in any Macs. The new standard achieves much faster wireless networking speeds than 802.11n, which featured in current Macs, by using more frequency bandwidth, more efficient data transfers, and more antennas.

Apple’s current Macs use up to three antennas to achieve 802.11n speeds of up to 450Mbps. But the 802.11ac standard starts at 450Mbps with just one antenna, while a triple-antenna design boosts wireless speeds to 1.3Gbps.

While Apple has reportedly struck a deal with Broadcom, the chips the company will use are not yet available and remain in development.

“We have been told that if work goes according to schedule, they should be part of the new line of Mac computers,” author Matt Brian wrote on Wednesday. “There is no word on whether Apple will introduce similar chipsets in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Time Capsule or other products.”

Presumably Apple’s networking products would receive the necessary upgrade to provide 802.11ac connectivity to the rumored 2013 Macs. That would include the AirPort Extreme Base Station router and AirPort Express portable Wi-Fi base station and AirPlay streaming device.

Apple was among the first companies to bring Wi-Fi to the masses in 1999 when company co-founder Steve Jobs debuted a wireless iBook notebook onstage as his trademark “one more thing” at the July Macworld Expo.

The company also snuck in support for the 802.11n wireless standard in some of its devices in 2006. Support for the “draft n” specification was later added to devices through an available software update. The 802.11n standard was formally ratified in October of 2009 — nearly three years after Apple began rolling it out.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

RIM Co-CEOs step down, take lower positions on board

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 23rd, 2012, 06:08
Category: News, wireless

Sometimes you just need to make a chance.

In a surprise step, RIM confirmed late Sunday that its two CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis would resign from their top positions. Per the Wall Street Journal, the two would stay on as board members and shareholders for the BlackBerry designer, but would hand over direct leadership to one person, current COO Thorsten Heins. Board member Barbara Stymiest would be promoted to an independent board chairman.

There would be “continuity” from the earlier strategy, Heins said, but it was “not going to be a standstill” that preserves the existing order. He was confident that BlackBerry 10 would lure customers and developers to RIM, but hinted that licensing the OS on a “case-by-case basis” might be an option if the software is successful.

A new board member, Fairfax Financial Holdings CEO Prem Watsa, was coming in to further shake up the board.

Balsillie and Lazaridis cast their partial exits as voluntary, but also in the wake of an imminent panel decision that suggested the board changes. Balsillie claimed that the jump would have good timing now that BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 and the first BlackBerry 10 phone were both on schedule.

While portrayed as voluntary, the shift would come after what many consider RIM’s worst relative year of performance on record. The company bled market share for the core BlackBerry smartphone line virtually every quarter, and its belief that the BlackBerry PlayBook would take on Apple quickly fizzled as it had to ship fewer and fewer tablets and cut the price of the PlayBook by as much as 60 percent just clear stock. The company repeatedly gave overly optimistic guidance for most of 2011 and was regularly confident in imminent turnarounds that didn’t materialize.

The co-CEO structure was widely criticized, both for being very unusual in the industry but also for a self-reinforcing structure that made it harder to challenge their opinions. Their joint leadership of the board of directors also made it doubtful that other board members would significantly challenge their authority. Many credit the late responses to the iPhone and Android to a disbelief they could be outdesigned and a reluctance to respond directly.

Heins, meanwhile, came to RIM in 2007 from the CTO role at Siemens. While some of RIM’s troubles came under his watch, he has shown signs of improvement by cutting down the lag between announcement and shipping for BlackBerry phones from months to weeks.

Feel free to hurl your two cents in on this via the comments.

Apple working to adopt 802.11ac 5G Gigabit WiFi standard in 2012

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 23rd, 2012, 05:33
Category: News, wireless

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You know, 802.11n’s been speedy, but it’s also been around for a while.

It might be time to move on to something new.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is expected to rapidly deploy support for the new 802.11ac specification this year, adding so called “Gigabit WiFi” to new AirPort base stations, Time Capsule, Apple TV, notebooks and potentially its mobile devices.

The new 802.11ac standard achieves much faster wireless networking speeds than the existing 802.11n specification (in use on the latest Mac, AirPort and iOS devices) by using 2 to 4 times the frequency bandwidth (from 80 to 160MHz), more efficient data transfers through sophisticated modulation, and more antennas (up to 8; existing standards support up to 4, while Apple’s Macs currently use up to 3).

While not yet finalized as an official standard by the 802.11 Working Group, progress on the new 802.11.ac standard is occurring faster than previous efforts in wireless networking have.

Multiple suppliers have already issued chipsets supporting 802.11ac for consumer grade applications. Key Apple component maker Broadcom announced chips supporting the standard earlier this month at CES.

In addition to reaching networking speeds above 1 Gigabit (about three times as fast as 802.11n networks can manage), 802.11ac promises better networking range, improved reliability, and more power efficient chips, thanks to parallel advances in reducing chip size and enhancing power management.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Intel demonstrates Near-Field Communications on upcoming Ivy Bridge notebook architecture

Posted by:
Date: Monday, January 9th, 2012, 10:49
Category: Accessory, Hardware, wireless

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This could prove spiffy.

Per Engadget and its CES coverage, Intel executive Mooly Eden has just confirmed that the company’s forthcoming Ivy Bridge chips will support Near-Field Communications (NFC), as demoed in a transaction involving a laptop and PayPass-enabled MasterCard.

NFC technology has yet to be truly demoed as incorporated into notebooks and it’ll be interesting to see which companies and developers pick up on this as well as whether this will find its way into upcoming Apple notebooks.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

How-To: Repair dropped Wi-Fi connections in Mac OS X

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 1st, 2011, 11:04
Category: How-To, wireless

You’ve gotten used to your Wi-Fi signal.

You rely on it.

You sometimes ponder writing a love note to your wireless router if it’s been reliable this month.

And still, there are times where your Wi-Fi signal breaks down and goes through the floor. Fear not, for the mighty Topher Kessler has written a killer guide to repairing Wi-Fi signal problems both via the Mac OS X end as well as the router end over on CNET.

And you should take a gander.

Apple releases Bases Station, Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 11th, 2011, 05:07
Category: News, Software, Time Capsule, wireless

Early Friday, Apple released AirPort Base Station and Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6 for its AirPort Express, 802.11n AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule models.

The update, a 4.6 megabyte download, provides fixes for the following:
- An issue with performance on overlapping wireless networks.

- An issue with AirPlay audio streaming.

- An issue with configuring multiple entries for DNS servers.

To install the update, use the following steps:
- Open AirPort Utility (in your /Applications/Utilities folder). If there are no other important issues displayed, the base station in need of an update will be selected and the version information will be displayed).

- Click “Update Firmware”.

- Follow the prompts.

The update takes about two minutes to install and reboot the device from there and requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.

If you’ve tried the firmware update and noticed any major changes, please let us know in the comments.

Amazon listing points to next-gen AirPort Express router in the works

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011, 17:47
Category: News, Rumor, wireless

Sometimes Amazon reveals a bit more than Apple would like it to.

Per AppleInsider, Apple will soon begin shipping a new version of its AirPort Express portable 802.11n base station, capping a recent series of refreshes to the company’s line of WiFi routers ahead of this fall’s iCloud launch.

Although Apple’s online store still reflects availability of “AirPort Express Base Station with 802.11n and AirTunes,” authorized resellers like DataVision report that the same model (MB321LL/A) is discontinued, while Amazon estimates it will have new stock sometime in the next “2 to 5 weeks.”

Additionally, a person familiar with the matter says Apple is wrapping up the release of AirPort Utility 5.6, makes reference to a second-generation 802.11n AirPort Express in its developer notes:
“Adds support for the AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation) base station”

The current version of Airport Utility, 5.5.3, was released in June, resolving an issue that caused the tool to unexpectedly quit during setup.

The update would round out tune-ups across Apple’s AirPort device family. In June, the company quietly updated both its Time Capsule and Airport Extreme base stations. Though no specific changes were detailed in product specifications, FCC filings revealed that the new devices had received a power boost of as much as 2.8 times the original signal.

Subsequent tests revealed dramatic performance and reliability improvements to the base stations, especially when accessed from more remote locations. A teardown of the AirPort Extreme also showed that Apple has switched from Marvell WLAN cards to the Broadcom BCM4331.

But, given that FCC filings for a new Airport Express have yet to turn up, it remains unknown whether the diminutive base station will also see a signal boost when it is updated.

Apple released the first generation of 802.11n-capable AirPort Express routers in March 2008, billing the device as the world’s smallest 802.11n-based mobile base station.

As Apple has been hard at work prepping its iCloud service, rumors have swirled that the company may transition its AirPort base stations to use iOS, with some reports speculating that software updates could be delivered wirelessly via an AirPort router.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases, 2TB, 3TB capacity Time Capsule units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 06:02
Category: News, Time Capsule, wireless

Apple on Tuesday quietly released new models of Time Capsule, its combination backup drive and wireless base station.The new Time Capsules are available in 2TB and 3TB capacities—previously, Time Capsule had topped out at 2TB.

Per Macworld, the new Time Capsules still use the 802.11n Wi-Fi networking standard, with dual-band operation available for 802.11b/g devices like the iPhone and iPod touch. Other than the boosted hard drive capacities, it doesn’t appear the new Time Capsules boast any new features.

The 2TB Time Capsule retails for US$299 while the 3TB model sells for US$499; those prices are unchanged from the previous 1TB and 2TB offerings, respectively.

If you’ve tried the new Time Capsule units and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Recently discovered FCC filing points towards upcoming AirPort Extreme device

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 04:11
Category: News, wireless

Sometimes it’s the FCC filings that give it away.

Per Engadget, A new filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has revealed an updated AirPort Extreme wireless base station from Apple is forthcoming.

The new hardware was outed this week by an FCC filing, made by Apple on June 16, which shows a 3×3 802.11n access point, dubbed model A1408.

The label includes mention of AirPort IDs in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz range, as well as an Ethernet ID. The hardware carries an FCC ID of BCGA1408.

The documents do not reveal what may have changed in the new hardware model, but it’s likely the new hardware is set for imminent release given the timing of the FCC filing.

Last week, Apple updated its AirPort Utility, and the software contains references to a new fourth-generation Time Capsule and fifth-generation AirPort Extreme. No mention of a new Time Capsule was made in the latest FCC filings, but given that stock of the hardware has run dry along with AirPort base stations, it’s a likely candidate for a refresh as well.

Various rumors have claimed that Apple may shift its base stations to run iOS. This transition could allow for more robust features, like print and media streaming services, integration with iCloud, and cached wireless software updates.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.