802.11ac is the next biggest thing to happen in the wireless connectivity world. This protocol promises speeds that triple the latest protocol 802.11n. 1.3Gbps is amazing; in fact it’s too amazing. The word is that 802.11ac protocol will be released mid 2013, but the world is already anxious to see how things will really work out.
The first thing you need to know about this new protocol is that it is still in the works. The protocol is still in the draft stages and we are yet to see if hardware can keep up. A lot of wireless device manufacturers are already boasting that they are soon to come out with 802.11ac devices, but until the protocol has been finalized.
The next thing you should know is that 802.11ac has amazing wireless connectivity speeds of up to 1.3Mbps, but this is a lot faster than what current home internet connection speeds are. Even if you do have an 802.11ac router and 802.11ac devices, it is likely that you won’t notice the full advantages of having 802.11ac until you can get an internet connection speed that matches.
802.11ac works on 5 GHz. Most wireless devices still use the 2.4 GHz frequency, including cordless phones and baby monitors. Not too many devices use the 5 GHz band so there will be less interference. Another reason why there should be less interference is because 5 GHz travels shorter than 2.4 GHz. If you have a next door neighbour that also uses 802.11ac and there is just a wall separating your homes, then you might get some interference.
802.11ac uses “beamforming” technology. An 802.11ac router will be able to roughly judge the location of the device that requires data transmission and will increase the signal on the antenna that transmits to that device. This means improved wireless signal quality.
An important detail about 802.11ac is that it is backwards compatible. This means that earlier protocols, .11n, .11g, and .11 b will still be able to work.
The most important detail you need to be aware of is that even though 802.11ac promises wireless connection speeds of over 1Gbps, it is unlikely that it will reach this speed. There will still be some factors that will slow down your connection speed. Factors like interference, overhead chatter, distance, and obstacles will reduce your connection speed so don’t expect to reach the speeds that the labels say.
802.11ac is a great protocol and it will greatly improve our wireless home network, even though it is unlikely that the advertised speed of 1.3Gbps will be reached. If the network speed can reach half of this, it will still be an amazing speed, considering that most internet connection speeds are still significantly slower.
Hardware manufacturers are already boasting that they already have products that are 802.11ac capable, but until the protocol has been finalized, we won’t know if these products will really work or not. It will still be quite some time before we realize the full advantages of 802.11ac protocol.
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