What is Wireless AC (802.11ac)?
If you have been shopping for a wireless router lately then you’ve probably seen something labeled as “Wireless AC,” or “802.11ac,” but what does this actually mean? And how can it benefit your home network?
802.11ac is the newest standard of Wi-Fi and it can provide outstanding throughput for a dramatic increase in your home Wi-FI network. Below I’ll explain to you exactly why this new standard is great, and how it can benefit you.
What Is Special About It?
The 802.11ac standard was approved in early 2014, but it took a while for routers to be manufactured and start populating the shelves, and it’s right around a year later that we are starting to see it become the norm. More and more routers are 802.11ac compatible, and we are even seeing laptops and desktops come with compatibility as well. So, being a relatively new standard it’s going to be around for a while.
The standard uses the 5GHz band of wireless radio, just like 802.11a and sometimes 802.11n, which means that your wireless network won’t get interference from devices such as cordless phones, microwaves, and even some baby monitors.
802.11ac is capable of speeds in the range of 54 megabytes per second (433 Mbps) to 162.5 megabytes per second (1.3 Gbps).
These speeds, with compatible devices, will dramatically increase your wireless devices’ internet experience, whether it’s streaming or transferring files.
Even though 802.11n is great for home networks, and 802.11ac is essentially an updated version of that, it still introduces a lot of cool technology.
802.11ac has an incredible amount of bandwidth when compared to 802.11n, this means that it will be able to support more devices simultaneously at the same speed compared to previous standards.
802.11ac utilizes a new technology called “beamforming” which helps with range and data speeds! Other wireless standards just broadcast a signal in all directions hoping to hit the target device. With the new Beamforming technology, 802.11ac only sends the signal in the direction of your device, using more power to focus the signal rather than broadcasting in all directions.
This means that you’re going to get faster speeds at greater distances, and through walls, compared to other wireless standards.
In a test with a Linksys router, a device received 30.2 Megabytes per second when 2 meters away, and 22.7 Megabytes per second while 13 meters away and through two solid walls [Source].
That’s tremendous, especially for the home user who would like to use their mobile devices in rooms further away from the router, without a noticeable drop in performance.
Why You Should Switch?
While many home users are completely satisfied with their home Wi-Fi network, 802.11ac will just future-proof your home.
Aside from being future-proof, you’ll also be able to support more devices connected at the same time, and at greater distances, without noticing a drop in your wireless network’s performances.
Techs here agree that the only disadvantages to switching to 802.11ac are the price of current compatible routers, and that your devices must be 802.11ac compatible to experience all the glory of 802.11ac.
But, it is important to note that devices that are 802.11n or g will still work with your new 802.11ac router and that the price of current routers are dropping.