It's one thing for customers to surf the Web or make Skype calls using your store's Wi-Fi connection—your current in-store Internet connection can handle that. But it won't take many customers watching multi-gigabit videos from the Internet before you'll either see lots of unhappy customers or need a much bigger pipe to keep them satisfied. Fortunately, the new standards aren't expected to be finalized until the end of 2012. What impact would high-resolution real-time video calls with consumers and customer service have? What if during an answer, the rep could play demo videos? What if the customer could stream video of the product he/she is asking about?
Gigabit Wi-Fi is coming to customers' mobile devices, chipmakers say, and the new 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards (yes, they've used up a whole alphabet and started over) will run at about 7 gigabits per second—around 20 times the speed of current Wi-Fi. That's fast enough to watch high-definition video on a phone or tablet, which is great for stores that want to pitch glossy commercials at customers but not so great for retailers that offer Wi-Fi as a customer convenience.