Consumer network equipment maker, Buffalo has beaten its rivals to the punch by launching the first commercially available 802.11ac capable wireless router and wireless media bridge in the US.
Both the router and the bridge are backwards compatible with existing 802.11n devices, but most importantly, use the latest 802.11ac wireless standard, giving them the theoretical means of zapping data over the ether at a positively brisk 2.3Gbps.
Buffalo's being first to market with 802.11ac capable gear was a closely run thing as rival Netgear had also announced its first router would be arriving in May. Although the 802.11ac standard has yet to be ratified (The IEEE is expected to ratify the 802.11ac standard early 2013), a growing number of 802.11ac compatible USB dongles and devices with compatible chipsets are expected over the next 12 months, and some existing 802.11n routers are also expected to get a firmware upgrade to 802.11ac.
Where earlier wireless routers struggled to stream HD media, 802.11ac devices are expected to have little to no issues given their maximum theoretical 1.3Gbps data throughput. Having checked out Buffalo's prototype 802.11ac router at CES, its real world performance mightn't have been the quoted 1.3Gbps but it was able to belt out data at a still impressive 803Mbps. As tweaks to Buffalo's prototype router design are most likely to have happened, there's a strong possibility that this real world performance figure would have already been improved on.
The new 802.11ac standard transmits data over 5Ghz spectrum (which means it'll play nice with many cordless phones), and uses what Buffalo call beam-forming technology to extend its range. The router is called the Buffalo AirStation WZR-D1800H whilst the media bridge is called the WLI-H4-D1300. Both are available online in the US market for US$179.99.