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Latest 802.11ac Wireless Networking Standard to Boost Wi-Fi Speed

802-11ac wifi

Most wireless router users come up with complaints that their router is slow, they have to wait long to download a website or their video pauses too often. The demand of customers is for a wireless technology that is faster and provides better service even when accessed from the farthest distance. Still now, the leading WLAN standard in the market i.e. 802.11n can deliver up to 450 Mbps (2.4 to 5 GHz) per band. It improved the data rates and link efficiencies from its wireless predecessors B and G. However, consumers and businesses demand for enhanced capabilities which are addressed by the introduction of 802.11ac.

What is 802.11ac?

802.11ac is a new Wi-Fi protocol that is engineered to deliver 500 Mbps per band. The vendors claimed that they can offer routers that will support up to 1.3Gbps. The router uses MIMO (multiple antennas for reception and broadcast) which offer greater data quantity without the need for enhanced bandwidth or power for transmission.

With this new protocol, you can send up to eight spatial streams which is much higher than the maximum four stream of 802.11n. Therefore, there is no doubt that it will improve signal reliability and data transfer speed than the “n” protocol. It is also good for streaming HD videos, speedy data transfer and gaming.

Why is such a router needed?

As population becomes more oriented to mobile usage; operators are faced with two crucial challenges:

  1. Mobile applications demand for more bandwidth: Video streaming and voice applications have increased the demand for ubiquitous bandwidth.
  2. Individuals have several wireless devices: The average mobile user ratio is on the rise. Moreover, usage of tablets, Smartphones and laptops create congestion in wireless networks.

Therefore, there is increased demand for Speed, Quality and Reliability from an advanced Wi-Fi solution. Specifically, 802.11ac emerged in such a scenario and is expected to meet the functional challenges of wireless communication. The wide frequency bands enable 802.11ac to process double capacity of traffic. Multiple antennas increase the quality of reception and the reach.

A summary of new features that you may find in the 802.11ac, in addition to that of 802.11n are:

  • Up to 60 MHz channel width
  • Single-link throughput of 500Mbps
  • 400 nanosecond short guard interval
  • Multi-station WLAN with the throughput of 1Gbps or more
  • Space time block coding
  • Low density parity check code
  • Transmit beamforming
  • Capacity of up to eight spatial streams

It is true, that the wireless routers have higher data throughputs than their predecessors. The technology that is used in 802.11ac is similar to that of a WLAN. You can therefore expect an unwired office that is on par with the gigabyte wired system yet with a much better layout and connection flexibility.

Wait! Are you going to purchase the wireless router? Before you do so, you must first know the following.

Are 802.11ac routers available in the market?

Although the features of the 802.11ac router sounds great, you must remember that IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering) has not yet ratified the standard. They will likely come up with more improvements in the future.

However, the fact that it is still yet to achieve ratification does not appear to prevent the 11ac routers from reaching the market. Top tier vendors were already shipping the products from the end of last year. Even some smaller vendors already have the routers in the market. Despite being available in the market, it is hard to find appropriate drivers and adapter to make the computer work with it right now. Another eminent problem that you are likely to face with the available 802.11ac router is finding a hot spot e.g. when you visit a library or coffee shop as these places do not yet have supporting routers. Therefore, do not run out and buy 802.11ac in a hurry.

However, if you insist and invest your money in the newly formed router; you have to buy a bunch of adapters along with it and make the wireless devices ready so as to achieve great performances in your home network. That does not mean you have to throw out all your old wireless kits. The router meant for 802.11ac will be backward compatible with the existing Wi-Fi kit.

The 802.11ac standard will however not work in a smartphone or tablet as these devices are not supported either. There is nothing to worry. While the price tag attached to the 802.11ac routers just doesn’t make any sense to most consumers, it is expected that the IEEE will come up with revised versions that will be cheaper than  existing models that are available in the market today.

Written By

Steven Scheck is the Principal of Inspire WiFi, the nationwide leader of multifamily wifi and healthcare wifi. When he isn't bringing Wi-Fi to the masses, he enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife and 4 kids and occasionally gets in a round of golf. He is also very involved in philanthropic causes in Miami and nationally.

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