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Top speeds will double, streaming will be smoother, and batteries may last longer under a newly approved wireless standard.

The latest wireless technology more than doubles potential speeds and improves connection reliability.

It’s good enough that phone companies are testing ways to automatically push users off their networks and onto Wi-Fi connections when they are available, CNN says. That could mean better phone network performance too.

The new standard is called 802.11ac, and is good news for U.S. households, which now own an average of four wireless devices, CNN says. That’s twice as many as in 2007, when devices using the current standard, 802.11n, were first certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The ac standard supports speeds of up to 1.3 gigabits per second. “That’s fast enough to transfer an entire high-definition movie to a tablet in under four minutes,” CNN says, but realistically, almost no one will have a speed that’s even close to that.

Still, more people will be able to get a decent speed reliably, despite the greater demand we now place on our networks by streaming movies and music.

The new standard will also reduce power consumption while data is transmitting, which should mean devices using Wi-Fi connections rather than phone networks will no longer drain batteries as quickly, CNN says. It should also reduce network hiccups and make streaming smoother. If you watch YouTube videos while they’re loading, for instance, it should mean they freeze up less often.

Currently, ac-certified devices include Samsung’s Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2, plus several routers from Cisco and Netgear, CNN says. But by next year, the Wi-Fi Alliance expects a majority of devices to adopt the new standard. When Google starts flying Internet balloons everywhere, it’ll probably use 802.11ac.

Stacy Johnson

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