Roughly a decade ago, consumers finally realized they were truly addicted to the Internet.
If you spent a few days offline, without checking e-mail or favorite websites, then withdrawal symptoms began to occur. More recently, we've become dependent on a new fix: "WiFi." As we roam towns and cities, or simply like to surf the Web from the comfort of our own bed, a wireless Internet connection has become a necessity -- especially when our employers want us to remain in constant contact.
Trouble is, we've all had experiences with unstable WiFi connections. It's no fun to watch an online video, only to see it continually pause as the data buffer rebuilds. Considering how many consumers are "cutting the cord" from cable companies to watch their favorite shows and movies online, slow WiFi connections just won't cut it.
Thankfully, help is on the way. A wide range of technology companies are finalizing the standards to deliver what's known as WiFi 802.11ac. You don't need to know what those numbers and letters mean. You only need to know that it's fast -- really fast.
Not only is this technology faster, it can carry a signal over farther distances, and the chips used to transmit data consume less power than previous iterations of WiFi.
Although consumers will begin to adopt this new version of WiFi during the coming 12-18 months, investors will begin handicapping the best ways to play this trend right away. That's because the companies that make the chips, routers, software and other gear are starting to see orders flow in. By the time we hit the fourth-quarter earnings season in late January, expect to hear a lot more about WiFi 802.11ac rollouts and their effect on 2013 and 2014 growth rates.