Faster WiFi with the Next-Gen 802.11ac

−−Introducing the Next-Gen 802.11ac Solution

Have you heard about 802.11ac WiFi, but are wondering what it’s really all about? We’re here to help. Read on to learn the basics of this fast, reliable WLAN technology.

fast wifi 802.11ac

In essence, 802.11ac is a supercharged version of 802.11n (the current WiFi standard that your smartphone and laptop probably use), offering link speeds ranging from 433 megabits-per-second (Mbps), all the way through to several gigabits per second. To achieve speeds that are dozens of times faster than 802.11n, 802.11ac works exclusively in the 5GHz band.¹

802.11ac was ratified in January 2014 as a single standard, but it will be delivered by the industry in various phases. Much of the 802.11ac standard is delivered in what is known as wave 1.

What are the differences between 802.11ac and 802.11n?

As mentioned above 802.11ac operates only in the 5GHz band and introduces enhancements to several aspects of 802.11n. These aspects may include:

  • 256QAM vs. 64QAM,
  • Up to 8 bonded channels
  • 8 Spatial Streams
  • Downstream MU-MIMO and
  • Standardized transmit beamforming vs non-standardized in 11n

If you’re interested in upgrading to 802.11ac, you’ll be happy to know that it is backwards compatible, meaning that your existing client devices will be able to connect to 802.11ac access points and will benefit from standardized Airtime fairness in 11ac access points.

Furthermore, popular upmarket laptops and smartphones have supported 802.11ac since 2013. Such devices include Samsung and HTC smartphones and the Apple iPhone 6.

How fast is 802.11ac?

As Jamie Lendino of Extreme Tech aptly noted, “There are two answers – the theoretical max speed that can be achieved in the lab, and the practical maximum speed that you’ll most likely receive at home in the real world, surrounded by lots of signal-attenuating obstacles.”

The theoretical max speed of 802.11ac is eight 160MHz 256-QAM channels, each of which are capable of 866.7Mbps — a grand total of 6,933Mbps, or just shy of 7Gbps.² However, speed can be impacted by a wide range of factors, so it’s best to get technical advice to determine what actual performance speed will be in your operations.

In terms of security, both 802.11n and 802.11ac support the same security conventions defined by 802.11i specification. Zebra WiNG 5 access points support dynamic WEP to secure legacy devices in particular markets.

ADSI works with many companies to implement and enhance their wireless networks in their warehouse and other areas of operations. We also sell and implement Zebra WLAN solutions and mobile computing equipment. In addition to helping you choose the right network solution for your specific operations, we can help you determine if your company’s existing devices are compatible with a 802.11ac WiFi solution.

The Zebra WLAN access point that we sell will provide 802.11ac data rates, even for 2.4GHz clients. In addition, each Zebra access point includes a dedicated 2.4GHz radio for compatibility with 802.11b/g/n devices.

Finally, if you’re wondering if the Zebra 802.11ac WLAN is suitable for backbone deployment, wonder no further. The high bit rate and 80MHz or 160MHz channel set lends itself to backhaul applications using a narrow beam antenna. In addition, MESH networks with a single channel benefit from the increased bit rate. However, 802.11ac provides significantly more wireless capacity for client devices, allowing more clients to connect.

Questions? Our network specialists are here to help. For more information, contact us today.




¹ Jamie Lendino, “What is 802.11ac WiFi, and how much faster than 802.11n is it?”, April 20, 2015.

² James Lendino.

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