During the opening WWDC 2013 keynote, Apple announced a refresh of its AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule with support for 802.11ac. The two include 3x3:3 802.11ac with support for a PHY rate of up to 1300 Mbps and of course simultaneous 3x3:3 802.11n on 2.4 GHz (ac applies to 5 GHz only of course). From the outside, the new AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule look like a taller version of the AirPort Express which was released in 2012. The reason of course is to accommodate the 6 antennas inside, 3 for 2.4 GHz and 3 for 5 GHz for optimal orthogonality for 802.11ac's new beamforming. 

It's unclear at this point what chipset is inside the new hardware, but from the feature support and I/O it's pretty safe to guess Broadcom. On the back are a USB 2.0 port for printers or attached storage, three gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, gigabit WAN, and power. There's no optical toslink or analog audio out on the back of the new hardware, that only gets included on the AirPort Express. I searched around Moscone for the new hardware but was told it wasn't out being shown off, however availability in Apple stores June 12, at $199 for the AirPort Extreme, $299 for a 2TB Time Capsule, and $399 for a 3TB Time Capsule. 

I'm curious whether the new AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule are the same hardware inside, with a vacant SATA slot lurking inside.

At time of announcement Apple also noted inclusion of 802.11ac in the new MacBook Air and Mac Pro.

Source: Apple

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  • fteoath64 - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Disappointed that Apple did not widen this product to include a range of offerings that is very much wanted by home users and small businesses. What I meant was a 8-port GigE model with 4 USB ports for shared disks. Another with a 3-disk bay unit like a small NAS/TM box that does RAID0 and jobd configs. The present use of single drive USB disk to backup the TM and provide online sharing is getting very messy and restrictive. Few would want to plonk $600 for a 4Bay NAS so sticking with 3-4 two teradrives for cycling backups.
    Yes, a small media audio airplay would be useful, plus iCloud cache. That will do tablet users a lot of good in places where the broadband is not real high bandwidth or people using the occasional Mifi device. Such areas are "sure wins" with rather high margins. These things are simple to make as well, so waiting for a new TM seems like Apple roll-out planning is not good at all!.
  • SIRKGM14vg - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    SignalPST - You describe the AppleTV, which does that exactly, play video over HDMI. If really what you are doing in your second statement is using it for presentation, you can simply connect the two together using ad-hoc networking; or even just a network cable. Simply create a network on your Macbook and then connect your AppleTV to it.
  • Bkord123 - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    I have a general question. Will this upgrade make my wireless home Internet any faster or will it only speed up data transfers like Time Machine backups?
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    802.11ac will speed up networking to any devices that support it. Your older hardware with 802.11n/g won't see any significant performance change.
  • SIRKGM14vg - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    Couple of things to clarify on "speed up". I'm not a huge fan of wireless, simply because of how it's used, and how many issues it creates. If Ethernet is not possible you need to consider three things for home. Coverage, number of devices and content.

    To answer your question, yes. You will see a significant increase and data transfer speeds for network traffic to and from the Airport Extreme. Your AE then becomes the gateway to the internet. However, your internet speeds will not change.

    To describe it in detail, your Internet connection from your ISP, will transfer (Tx) traffic at whichever speed you currently pay for. Your internet speed will always be limited in that factor. But if you have coverage issues, too many devices or using heavy bandwidth content (streaming, gaming, etc.), you may experience degraded wireless throughput or speed.
  • ngautam - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    I have a 2 year old macbook pro and mac air and a 5 year old AEBS.
    Just switched to Uverse.
    Will i see significant improvement over 802.11n compared to my 5 year old AEBS?
    I have been waiting for this upgrade for a long time? please say YES, you techies.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Your 2 year old MBP only supports 802.11n, sorry.

    If you replace it with a new one that does ac your internal network will be much faster. But unless your wifi signal is extremely poor now it's still faster than Uverse; so you won't see any speedup over the internet.
  • scbond - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Worth pointing out that the MBP and MBA support 802.11n?! To experience the 802.11ac speeds you're hoping for you'd need 802.11ac communicating with other 802.11ac devices, which won't happen for another year at the soonest. Until then, these AirPort Extreme Base Stations will just be like over-priced 802.11n devices...which was already the case before anyway.
  • heffeque - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    Just wanted to say that the new MBA and MP already have wifi-ac on them.
  • name99 - Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - link

    What strikes me as disappointing here is the USB2 port.
    The USB performance on these devices has ALWAYS been so crappy, and Apple seems determined to maintain that tradition. I was hoping to upgrade from my four year or so old Extreme, but with lousy USB it seems to make more sense to wait for the next rev which, finally maybe, will have USB3.

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